Police search for Pa. escapee near state line

Md., Del. authorities help in hunt for killer

August 08, 1999|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Maryland State Police are searching for an escaped four-time murderer who was spotted Friday in a wooded area near Cecil County's border with Pennsylvania.

Norman Johnston, 48, escaped Monday from a central Pennsylvania prison where he was serving a life sentence for the 1980 murders of four Pennsylvania teen-agers. The film "At Close Range," starring Sean Penn, was based on the killings.

On Friday evening, Johnston was spotted talking on a pay phone in Nottingham, Pa., but he eluded authorities by fleeing into the 600-acre Nottingham Park, two miles from the Maryland border.

Pennsylvania state and local police launched an exhaustive search for Johnston in Nottingham Park, but called off the manhunt yesterday afternoon after coming up empty-handed. Troopers from Maryland and Delaware assisted in the search.

"We are considering Mr. Johnston to be armed and extremely dangerous," Pennsylvania State Police Lt. David M. Presto said yesterday. "We're not sure if he's still in the area and where he may be."

However, police said it was likely that he has left the area in a silver, four-door 1990 Buick LeSabre. Police said it was stolen Friday night near the park.

The car was recovered yesterday in a housing complex several hundred yards from the Maryland border, police said.

Johnston is white with a fair complexion, weighing 180 pounds, with a medium build, brown hair and brown eyes, authorities said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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