SAN DIEGO — A Michigan officer's decision to look through old files on fugitives led investigators to a woman who escaped from a Michigan prison 37 years ago and was living in San Diego, authorities said Wednesday.
Judy Lynn Hayman, 60, will be returned to Michigan to complete her sentence for attempted larceny.
"We can't just write it off," said Russ Marlan, spokesman for the Michigan Corrections Department. "We don't have the ability to say, 'It's been a long time. You're free to go.'"
It will be up to the state Parole Board to determine how long Hayman will be imprisoned. She had served eight months of an 18- to 24-month sentence for attempting to steal clothes from a Detroit-area store. She could face additional time for escaping.
Hayman's capture wasn't the result of an intense search. It happened mostly because of winter weather and an officer's decision to blow the dust off old files.
Lt. Charles Levens of the Michigan Corrections Department pursues parole violators but recent severe weather had kept him in the office and off icy roads. He requested the fingerprint cards for all old escapees and sent them to the FBI.
Hayman's fingerprints matched those of a woman who had been arrested in San Diego.
San Diego police on Monday went to an apartment in the city's Hillcrest neighborhood, where a woman matching Hayman's description answered the door. She identified herself as Jamie Lewis and produced government documents with the name, San Diego police Lt. Kevin Mayer said.
Officers, however, remained suspicious because of inconsistencies in her story and her resemblance to an old Michigan mug shot they were holding.
"Her eyes gave her away," Mayer said. "The eyes in the picture matched the eyes of this woman."
The officers took her to a police station, where she eventually acknowledged being Hayman, Mayer said.
Hayman is being held in a San Diego County jail awaiting extradition to Michigan, where she escaped from the Ypsilanti prison in 1977, Mayer said. He did not know if she had retained an attorney, and no court date had been set.
It wasn't immediately clear how long Hayman had been living in San Diego. Her 32-year-old son was visiting when police arrived, and officers said he appeared stunned by their questions.
"This seemed very much a surprise to him," Mayer said.
Neighbors said Hayman lived in the complex for several years and mostly kept to herself.
Maria Lopez told the U-T San Diego newspaper that Hayman did not appear to have a job. She said people came by the house to do her laundry, and she had frequent visits from her son.
Hayman's case is similar to that of Marie Walsh, who also escaped from a Michigan prison when she was known as Susan LeFevre.
Walsh had served 14 months of a 10-year prison sentence for a heroin deal when she fled in 1976. She was found living under an alias in San Diego in 2008.
Walsh spent 13 more months in prison then returned to San Diego, where she resumed her life with her husband of more than 20 years. She wrote a book called "A Tale of Two Lives" about her ordeal.
White reported from Detroit.