US Fugitive Spent Decades in Portuguese Village

George Wright became handyman Jorge Santos
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2011 1:51 AM CDT
A woman who said she was Maria Do Rosario Valente, the wife of George Wright, is seen outside the house where neighbors said Wright lived in Almocagema.   (AP Photo/ Francisco Seco)
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(Newser) – George Wright, murderer, hijacker, and American fugitive, was known as Jorge Santos, easygoing immigrant from Guinea-Bissau during the decades he hid in a Portuguese village. The 68-year-old, who was recaptured earlier this week, married a local woman and raised two children, now in their early 20s, after settling down in a seaside town west of Lisbon, the AP reports. Wright worked as a handyman, a bouncer, and a chef in the village, where he lived in a well-kept house near a beach.

The local mayor says the only indication he ever had that Wright had an American background was in 1997 when he offered to set up a youth basketball team, the New York Times reports., Investigators managed to track down Wright after 41 years via a fingerprint on his Portuguese ID card. The daughter of the gas station owner Wright killed in a 1962 robbery says she felt "like a burden had been lifted" when she learned of his arrest. Her father, she says, was a driver in the Army during World War II and won a Bronze Star after getting his troops out under heavy fire in Italy.

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