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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Leonard Moses: Fifty Years a Fugitive

     On April 6, 1968 in the wake of Martin Luther King's assassination a riot broke out in Homewood, Pennsylvania, a community in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. During that civil unrest 16-year-old Leonard Rayne Moses and two of his friends threw molotov cocktails into 72-year-old Mary Amplo's house in Homewood. With third-degree burns over 55 percent of her body she was rushed to a nearby hospital where, three months later, she died of pneumonia. 

     In July 1969, Leonard Moses went on trial in Pittsburgh for Mary Amplo's death. The jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. The judge sentenced Moses to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

     In July 1970 the authorities granted Leonard Moses permission to attend his mother's funeral at the Nazarene Baptist Church in Homewood. At some point during the service the 18-year-old managed to escape from two Allegheny County sheriff's deputies. Normally escapees of this nature are quickly apprehended and returned to prison. But in this case, Leonard Moses avoided capture.

     In January 1999, Leonard Moses, under the name Paul Dickson, became a licensed traveling pharmacist for the CVS pharmacy chain in Michigan. Twenty years later in January 2020 while living in Grand Blanc, Michigan, a suburb of Flint, a CVS loss prevention officer in St. Clair, Shores, Michigan, caught Moses, aka Dickson, taking 80 hydrocodene pills from the pharmacy. A Genesee County prosecutor charged Dickson/Moses with theft. Following his arrest Dickson/Moses made bail and returned to his home in Grand Blanc.

     In October 2020 the fingerprints of a man the local authorities believed to be Paul Dickson were entered into a national fingerprint databank. The submission of these prints resulted in a match to the fingerprints of a Leonard Moses taken in connection with the Mary Amplo firebombing in April 1968. 

     FBI agents on November 12, 2020 arrested the escaped prisoner at his home in Grand Blanc, Michigan. The 67-year-old fugitive was booked into the Genesee County Jail before his extradition back to Pennsylvania where he would be sent back to prison for the murder of Mary Amplo. 

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