Fugitive hid for decades by settling in quiet town

(iStock)
(iStock)

Reidsville — A man on the run for 40 years after a deadly attack in Florida evaded capture in a mundane manner, according to authorities and friends - he got married, settled in a quiet town and ran a wallpaper store.

People say the man they knew as James Manion and his wife were cordial but quiet, blending into the community of about 14 000 near the Virginia border. Manion made sure his dog Prancer regularly went to the doggy parlour.

He voted Republican in several elections and he was seen working in his tree-shaded yard.

Aggravated battery

"I couldn't say enough nice things about both of them. There was never an inkling of anything amiss," said Preston Trigg, who grew up in Reidsville and kept in touch with the couple after he helped sell them his mother's house in 2002.

But the life of James Manion was part of a long deception dating back to a violent 1977 crime in Florida, according to the FBI.

Authorities say the fugitive - whose real name is William Claybourne Taylor - was the triggerman in an attempt to assassinate the then-mayor of the city of Williston. The mayor was wounded, but another government official died in the attack.

Taylor is scheduled to have a court hearing in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Thursday, a week after his capture. Authorities say he disappeared in 1980 after he was indicted on charges of murder and aggravated battery.

By several accounts, Taylor and his wife, Sheryl Manion, were well-liked in the North Carolina town where they'd lived for more than a decade. There were signs, however, that the couple was having financial problems after the wallpaper store went out of business several years ago.

Credit account

Neil Hendrix, who lives several doors down from the couple, said he saw them about once a month at a local sports pub. He said the husband, who was quiet, worked there briefly as a cook.

"There wasn't nothing out of the ordinary about him," Hendrix said. "He was just a nice guy. I would have never suspected, but you never know."

Another neighbour, 86-year-old Alberta Morris, said she occasionally saw Taylor doing yard work, but never talked to him.

Bank of America last year took Sheryl Manion to court over nearly $10 000 she owed on a delinquent credit account, according to court filings. A Rockingham County court entered a default judgment after she failed to answer the complaint.
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Would you choose to continue working from home after the coronavirus lockdown if given the option?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, it's much better for me
40% - 7140 votes
No ways! I can't wait to get back to the office
12% - 2097 votes
A mixture of both would suit me best
48% - 8596 votes
Vote
USD/ZAR
14.59
(+0.1)
GBP/ZAR
20.04
(+0.0)
EUR/ZAR
17.36
(-0.0)
AUD/ZAR
11.11
(-0.0)
JPY/ZAR
0.13
(+0.3)
Gold
1,728.98
(-0.2)
Silver
24.97
(+0.6)
Platinum
1,173.00
(-0.1)
Brent Crude
63.28
(+0.5)
Palladium
2,700.70
(+0.8)
All Share
66,667
(+0.4)
Top 40
60,969
(+0.5)
Financial 15
12,192
(+0.4)
Industrial 25
87,092
(+0.6)
Resource 10
67,424
(+0.4)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo