9-month search led to slaying suspect

April 30, 1994|By Peter Hermann and Michael Goldberg

To his upstairs neighbor, he was known as William Matthews, a middle-aged, soft-spoken man with a pleasant demeanor who lived alone on the first floor of a West Baltimore rowhouse where he had lived for a year.

Boston detectives, however, knew him as William E. Foskey, charged in the shotgun killing of a Roxbury man four days before Christmas in 1967.

On Wednesday, more than 26 years after James Wright, 31, a father of three, was slain, members of the Joint Violent Crimes Fugitive Task Force burst into an Edmondson Avenue rowhouse and carted away Mr. Foskey, 58. The task force is made up of federal and local law enforcement officers.

Police said it took nine months of intensive work to trace the suspect to Baltimore. They were aided by a computer data base and information provided by acquaintances of Mr. Foskey.

Mr. Foskey lived in Michigan for 10 years before moving to Baltimore, police said. He was being held in the Baltimore City Detention Center yesterday after waiving an extradition hearing and was waiting for Boston police to take him to Massachusetts.

"The work [local police] did was excellent," said Lt. Tim Murray, a member of the Boston Police Department's Cold Case Squad. "They are a great bunch of cops."

Some residents of the 1300 block of Edmondson Ave. said they '' did not know Mr. Foskey by his real name or by his alias.

His upstairs neighbor, who did not want his name used, described Mr. Foskey as a "nice guy. I don't know what he did for a living, but he was a pretty nice guy. He was just a pleasant person."

Boston police said Mr. Foskey left Massachusetts within days of the 1967 slaying, just after they obtained an arrest warrant charging him with murder.

Lieutenant Murray and Lt. Stephen Murphy of the Boston police traced the man to Michigan, where he lived under a variety of names, they said, including Willy Williams, and had an extensive criminal record with state authorities.

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