City man charged in 1976 jailbreak Man assumed new ID after Va. prison escape, police say.

March 01, 1991|By Frank D. Roylance and William B. Talbott | Frank D. Roylance and William B. Talbott,Evening Sun Staff

Fourteen years of freedom ended with a pre-dawn knock on the door today as police took into custody a West Baltimore man wanted for a 1976 escape from a Richmond, Va., prison.

Police said Paul Gresham Jr., 41, of the 1100 block of Braddish Ave. in Walbrook, had married, lived and worked in Baltimore under assumed names for three years before his arrest at 5:30 a.m.

His wife was unaware of his real name or his background, police said. She reportedly expressed astonishment and disbelief today when police told her of his past.

Investigators said Gresham escaped from the Department of Corrections in Richmond on June 28, 1976, after being convicted in 1970 on charges of assault, robbery and kidnapping.

Police said Gresham and a second man were found guilty of grabbing a man in West Point, Va., 30 miles east of Richmond. They held him in his auto overnight and forced him to withdraw money from a bank the next day.

Gresham also was convicted of attempted murder in an escape attempt in 1970, in which a deputy sheriff was shot in Virginia.

After his escape in 1976, Gresham was arrested in New York in 1978 on charges of rape and extortion. But he was released on bail and disappeared before New York authorities learned he was wanted for escape in Virginia.

He had married and lived in Baltimore for more than three years under the name Richard Harris, police said. He also was working for a moving company under the name Reginald Jones.

Sgt. Robert Sharp and Detective Paul Wingate, of the city police escape and apprehension unit, led the arrest today. They had been watching Gresham's house for two days with the FBI.

Police said they would check wanted files in the Baltimore region for anyone matching Gresham's description who may be sought for crimes in the area.

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