TV program ends luck of Ill. fugitive

December 02, 1990|By Rafael Alvarez Reporter David Michael Ettlin contributed to this article.

On Friday afternoon, people in Aberdeen knew Joseph DeBartolo as the guy who cut their meats at Michael's Food Rite for the past year and a half, lived in a trailer park, and regularly beat the competition in a dart league at the Eagle's Nest.

"Everybody liked him," said a woman who works at the bar.

By Friday night they knew the 51-year-old as William J. Moore, a fugitive from Naperville, Ill., who choked a woman with a telephone cord and tried to beat her to death for a promised $25,000 before faking his own death in a bogus bridge-jump and running away to Maryland.

Moore -- convicted in absentia of a 1985 contract-murder scheme in which he promised one of his Naperville delicatessen customers that he could make the man's wife "disappear" -- was one of the featured fugitives on Friday night's broadcast of the television show "America's Most Wanted."

Within moments of the Fox Network's airing of the show, phones were ringing on the program's call-in line and at several Maryland police stations, and Aberdeen officers showed up at Michael's Food Rite to ask a lot of questions.

"Wouldn't anybody be surprised?" said Michael Johann, owner of the local food store chain, who hired Moore in August 1989. "You have someone working for you for more than a year and you find out he's on the . . . wanted list. It doesn't happen often."

Mr. Johann said that when he called markets in the Chicago area in August of last year for references on a meat-cutter named Joseph DeBartolo, everything checked out fine.

"It came back that he was a good meat-cutter, so we hired him," said Mr. Johann, who noted that Moore often told stories to his co-workers about growing up in Aberdeen. "Until last night he was Joseph DeBartolo. Right now we've got the word out on the street that we're looking for a new meat-cutter."

After tips started coming in to local police stations Friday night, the convict was arrested about 1 a.m. yesterday at the trailer park on Paul Martin Drive where he lived with his girlfriend, police said.

Harford County sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement officers surrounded the trailer. When Moore came out, he denied being the fugitive. But when police suggested he come to the station for a fingerprint check, he admitted being William Moore and was arrested.

Moore and an accomplice, Donald Charles Scherzer, were allegedly hired by Lloyd E. Hamman to kill his wife of 29 years, Carol Hamman, on Friday, Oct. 4, 1985. According to court testimony, the husband was worried about the financial settlement in their pending divorce.

In an interview yesterday, Mrs. Hamman said she was staying alone at a girlfriend's house when Moore first approached her the day before the attack. He pretended interest in the house, which was for sale, and Mrs. Hamman took him through it.

The next evening, as Mrs. Hamman was watching "Wheel of Fortune" on television, the doorbell rang. It was Moore again, she said, accompanied by Scherzer and claiming they were business partners moving to the area, and that their families would be living together.

Mrs. Hamman said she was leading both men through the house, had stepped out of the master bedroom and was about to turn on a light in the guest bathroom, when "they got

me from behind. I just seen all these things flashing in front of my face. Then I hit the floor."

The men were dragging her into the bedroom, Mrs. Hamman said, when she regained consciousness. "I could feel somebody yanking at my fingers. I said, 'Please don't, you're hurting me.' And that's when they hit me again."

Mrs. Hamman said she awakened again as the men were trying to strangle her, and credits her survival to a little voice she heard inside her head.

"To this day, I can feel the cord getting tighter and tighter and tighter. And then a little voice -- I can still hear it -- it said, 'Hold your breath.'"

The men left her for dead, and Mrs. Hamman -- after wrapping her bleeding head in a towel -- tried to call for help. The bedroom telephone did not work, because the attackers had taken the cord to choke her, so she made her way to another telephone in the kitchen and called a friend.

Although Lloyd Hamman had gone to Indiana that weekend, the police suspected he was involved. According to Mrs. Hamman, her husband flunked a lie-detector test and then agreed to cooperate with the authorities by wearing concealed equipment and taping his accomplices' confessions.

Hamman and Scherzer are serving prison terms in Illinois.

Moore, who was free on bail, faked a suicide jump off a Kankakee River bridge just before his trial was to begin and fled Illinois.

The 126th fugitive captured as a result of "America's Most Wanted" show since the show first aired in 1988, Moore was being held without bail last night at the Harford County Detention Center pending extradition proceedings.

"I was just amazed," Mrs. Hamman, now 53, said of Moore's capture within hours of the broadcast. "I was ecstatic to hear what happened. I just thought someday that they would get him."

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