Morris Johnson

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Morris Lynn Johnson
MorrisLynnJohnson.jpg
FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
Description
Born1936/1937 (age 76–77)
Status
AddedMay 25, 1976
CaughtJune 26, 1976
Number342
Captured
 
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Morris Lynn Johnson
MorrisLynnJohnson.jpg
FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
Description
Born1936/1937 (age 76–77)
Status
AddedMay 25, 1976
CaughtJune 26, 1976
Number342
Captured

Morris Lynn Johnson is a Kentucky-born career criminal whose arrest record included armed robbery, escape and rescue, bank robbery (with assault) and assaulting a police officer. He would briefly be listed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list in 1976.[1]

Robbery Inc.[edit]

According to Indianapolis media accounts, Johnson was the leader of one of the most notorious band of bank bandits since the days of John Dillinger by age 24 (1962). Also, it was alleged that by 1963 Johnsons gang, dubbed "Robbery Inc." by Indianapolis police, had grown to around 100 members, and were believed to be responsible for nearly 3,400 crimes between the years 1958 and 1963. Close associates of Johnson have claimed these assessments to be overblown, however.

Conviction[edit]

On April 10, 1963 a jury in Federal court at New Albany convicted Johnson of robbing the Merchants National Bank and Trust Co. branch at 3119 English Ave. in Indianapolis of $8,890 in November 1962. Johnson drew an 18 year sentence for this crime and subsequently confessed to nearly 300 other major crimes.

Escape[edit]

On November 10, 1966 Johnson escaped from the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, GA with another inmate by piecing together a rickety ladder made of scraps and thereby scaling a 30 foot wall. Only other one other inmate escaped this prison previous to this, nearly 40 years prior. One day shy of two months later Morris and another man robbed the American Fletcher National Bank branch at 2122 East 10th Street for $10,375. They were caught the same day. Johnson pled guilty and was sentenced to another 5 years in prison, plus an additional 3 years for the escape, plus the remainder of his original 15 year sentence.

Parole[edit]

In December 1973 Morris was paroled from McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary. 18 months later, Johnson was arrested in Louisville, KY and charged with robbing a bank at Atlanta (March 1974) and burglarizing a bank at Marietta, GA (April 1974) in which he dug a 135 foot tunnel to enter the bank. Sent back to Atlanta Penitentiary For 15 years.

Second escape[edit]

On October 25, 1975 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning Johnson and Solomon K. Allen Jr. scaled the wall to escape the Federal Prison in Atlanta. This was Johnson’s second escape from this prison and these escapes were the only two in a 50 year period.

Wife's arrest[edit]

On April 30, 1976 Johnson’s wife Laurie Kay Johnson, 34, and Franklin Rance, 39, a longtime associate were arrested when agents raided an apartment in Long Beach, Miss., in an attempt to capture Morris. Johnson and another man reportedly fled the apartment, exchanging shots with FBI agents and local police.

Third escape[edit]

A year following his escape, Johnson was added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list on May 25, 1976. In less than a month, acting on an anonymous tip, federal agents captured him in New Orleans on June 26. Soon thereafter, Johnson escaped from custody in Selma, Alabama on November 6. An accomplice sent hacksaw blades in the mail; the package was not checked because it contained a return address. Morris and five other prisoners sawed through the bars and fashioned a makeshift rope out of bed sheets to climb down to another part of the jail. On the ground level, they used an electrical cord to activate a device that controlled one door, and they broke a bar on another door to reach the outside. Morris was originally taken to this jail to testify in another trial. Johnson arrived at 2 p.m. that Saturday and escaped at 10 p.m. that same day; he had previously promised to send a message greeting his pursuers and, at Christmas, the judge and prosecutor in his court case as well as one of the FBI agents involved in his arrest received a card from Johnson which stated "I do my thing and you do your thing. If we should ever meet again, it's beautiful."

Star Man award[edit]

In 1976 Morris Johnson was nominated for the 1976 Indianapolis Star Man of the Year honor and was cited for “his initiative, intelligence and perseverance in dealing with the problems of prison security in our nation.”

Recapture[edit]

Morris was recaptured on May 11, 1977 in Burnsville, Minnesota and is currently incarcerated at the Federal Prison in Forrest City, Arkansas.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Google News: Beaver County Times - May 26, 1976

Further reading[edit]