Want to know if they’re Wanted?

Ruth, a frequent visitor to our website, wrote to us with an interesting dilemma. She’d recently hired a handyman to fix a few things at her place in Nevada, and was considering him for a much larger job. The man asked to be paid up front, in cash. While the initial work met with Ruth’s satisfaction, her gut told her that she shouldn’t place too much trust in this new handyman.

Ruth knew that the man had recently moved from Arizona and she did a criminal background check on him in that state. The search returned no results. Still, Ruth was suspicious. She’d seen the man snooping around in the bedrooms and his story about his time in Arizona felt shaky to her.

I suggested that she perform a criminal wants & warrants search on the man’s name in Nevada and also in his home state of Arizona. While he may not have convictions on his record, he could have active warrants. That could explain why he moved out of state.

I showed Ruth how to reach our Criminal Wants & Warrants page, which lists several nationwide links, like the one for the FBI Most Wanted and Department of Justice Most Wanted. There is even one for NCIS Most Wanted Fugitives. The real fugitives, not the ones that Mark Harmon tracks down on television.

Also on that directory page are the state categories for wants & warrants databases. Ruth visited the Nevada Wants & Warrants page, but there are only links for the “most wanted” fugitives in that state. Smaller profile fugitives are not listed.

Ruth then tried the Arizona Wants & Warrants page and went to the link for Maricopa County, AZ. They have a handy active warrant search page that allows you to search for warrants by name, or simply click on alphabetical letters to display all active warrants by last name. The letter M has 5249 active warrants alone!

Ruth was not surprised to find that her handyman did have an active warrant. She even used the “tip tool” feature on the Maricopa County database to send in details about the handyman, including his present whereabouts. As it turned out, he never showed up the following week for the big job. Perhaps he was picked up by local authorities and shipped back to Arizona to face the music? I told Ruth to check the active warrant site again in a week or so and see if his name had been removed.

Ruth is now looking for a more qualified handyman. If you can recommend one, let us know.

Time Off for Bad Behavior

Public records are like historical facts. Each one is part of the story of someone’s life. As we often discover when we research public records, some of those stories are quite outlandish. For example, take a look at the FBI Most Wanted List from their Cincinnati, Ohio field office, found on this criminal wants and warrants directory. The saga of Lester Edward Eubanks reads like a character back-story in an Elmore Leonard novel:

“Lester Eubanks is wanted for escaping from jail. On May 25, 1966, Eubanks was convicted of murdering a teenage girl during an attempted rape in Mansfield, Ohio. Eubanks shot the victim twice. He then returned to the victim’s location and smashed her skull with a brick. At the time of the offense, Eubanks was on bail for another attempted rape.”

That’s absolutely horrible, but that isn’t the outlandish part. Eubanks is still at large, and as described above, he’s wanted for escaping from jail. The truth is, Eubanks didn’t exactly escape from jail. He escaped from a mall during a Christmas shopping spree. Here is the rest of the story, quoted verbatim from the FBI site:

“On December 7, 1973, Eubanks walked away from an honor assignment from the Ohio Correctional Center in Columbus, Ohio. Reportedly, Eubanks was taken to a shopping center in the south end of Columbus and dropped off to go Christmas shopping by prison officials. Eubanks failed to return to his scheduled pick-up point and was reported by prison officials as a “walkaway.” Eubanks had been sentenced to death in the electric chair, and after three unsuccessful appeals, his death sentence was commuted to life in prison. This was due to a 1972 Supreme Court decision that ruled the death penalty unconstitutional.”

So first Eubanks catches a break when the death penalty is abolished in Ohio (Note: Ohio has since reinstated the death penalty, as evidenced by this list of current death row inmates). Eubanks then asks the warden if he can buy some Christmas gifts for his family. He catches another break when the prison officials “drop him off” at a shopping center and instruct him to return an hour later for his ride back to prison.

It is hard to believe that prison officials were so gullible.

The FBI bulletin about Eubanks sprinkles in other interesting facts about the fugitive. He was a former Air Force medic (possibly in the Vietnam War?), and held menial jobs after that. He holds a degree in martial arts and a black belt in karate, and is described as a practicing Baptist. The FBI site also indicates that Eubanks was living in California in the early 1990’s. So apparently witnesses spotted him two decades after his initial escape. A federal arrest warrant was put out for him in 1996 and there is currently a $10,000 reward for information leading to Eubanks’ capture.

So if you see Mr. Eubanks, at your local shopping mall or elsewhere, do NOT try to apprehend him. Report the sighting to the FBI.