William J. Moore returned to the Aberdeen area where he grew up, hoping to start a new life and elude the dark past he thought he'd left behind in Illinois.
But it didn't work out that way.
On Nov. 30, Fox Broadcasting Co.'s "America's Most Wanted" crime show described Moore's disappearance after he beat and attempted to strangle a Naperville, Ill., woman in October 1985.
Tips from Harford residents who knew Moore flooded police within 10 minutes of the broadcast. Soon police were knocking on the door of the trailer home where he had set up a new life in his old hometown.
Now being held in the county Detention Center pending extradition, Moore confirmed that he attended the Aberdeen High School between 1954 and 1956, although he did not graduate from the school.
In an interview, Moore said that he fled Illinois five years ago -- not because of his guilt, but to save himself from wrongful prosecution.
"I didn't do what they said," Moore said. "I ran because I had to run. .
. . I'm not a criminal. I've never been in trouble."
Moore described himself as an "average Joe," but refused to discuss his life unless he was paid by this newspaper for his story. That request was denied.
"If you want an exclusive story, do something for me," Moore said. "My side of the story is going to help you sell newspapers. . . . Now, I have to look to see what's in it for me."
Investigators have not determined when he returned to Harford County.
Moore, 51, lived in Harford County under the name Joseph DeBartolo, working as a butcher in an Aberdeen grocery store. He lived in an Edgewood mobile home park with his girlfriend and spent his spare time playing darts at a local bar.
That changed on Dec. 1, when Moore was arrested by a team of local police officers after "America's Most Wanted" revealed that he had been convicted in absentia for attacking a woman on Oct. 14, 1985.
After Moore and two accomplices were arrested, Moore jumped bail, faked his suicide and disappeared, an Illinois prosecutor said.
Following tips generated by the show, police officers from the county Sheriff's Department and the Aberdeen Police Department, state police at Benson and FBI agents from Baltimore went to Moore's home in the 1800 block of Steven Drive.
Moore came out of his mobile home but denied his identity when questioned by the officers, police said. He later admitted that he was Moore when the officers told him he would be fingerprinted.
During a hearing in Harford District Court Monday, Moore told court officials they had the wrong man. A second hearing has not yet been scheduled, but Illinois law enforcement officials say they will produce fingerprints and other documents showing that Moore is the man wanted for the attempted murder.
In the mid-1980s, Moore owned a meat market in Naperville, an upper middle-class suburb of Chicago in DuPage County, said DuPage Assistant State's Attorney Robert Huiner.
At the market, Moore became friends with Lloyd Hamman, a regular customer. Hamman complained that he was worried about losing money in a pending divorce, Huiner said.
Moore and Hamman then developed a "murder for hire" plot to kill Hamman's estranged wife, Carol, Huiner said. Moore, who lived in Chicago at the time, agreed to kill the woman for a $25,000 fee.
Moore and an accomplice, Donald Scherzer, then went armed with guns to the woman's house on Oct. 14, 1985, Huiner said. Concerned that gunshots would be heard by neighbors, Moore and Scherzer beat Hamman with their weapons and then choked her with a telephone cord, leaving her for dead.
Hamman recovered and a police investigation followed, Huiner said. Lloyd Hamman turned state's evidence and identified Moore and Scherzer as his accomplices.
Moore and Scherzer were arrested and charged with the attack, but Moore posted bail and then staged his suicide, Huiner said.
Moore's motorcycle was found on a bridge over the Kankakee River in Illinois and his helmet was in the river, Huiner said. Because of the shallowness of the river, authorities did not believe Moore had died and began a search for him.
Moore's accomplices, Hamman and Scherzer, were convicted of attempted murder. Moore was convicted in absentia of attempted murder, conspiracy and armed violence and sentenced to 30 years in prison.