WASHINGTON -- John Dillinger's not the only fugitive to find movie theaters bad news.
Cornelius "Thump" Smith, 23, wanted on a charge of first-degree murder, surrendered to District of Columbia police yesterday after his name and mug shot appeared on neighborhood movie screens as part of an FBI pilot project designed to use local theaters to help fight crime.
"He saw a story about it on the TV news and decided he had to turn himself in," said Cindy McCraw, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Washington field office.
Smith was one of three Washington-area fugitives chosen by the FBI for a program in which photographs of fugitives are run during the advertising and information slide montages that theaters show before the feature film.
The program began Friday on 64 screens in Washington and a few in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs.
"We thought it would be effective," said Rex Tomb, the FBI's director of fugitive publicity. "You've got a real captive audience. We'd no idea it would work so quickly."
According to FBI spokeswoman Lisa Becker, Smith's quick arrest caught the New Jersey company that prepares the slide presentation, Cinema Advertising Inc., by surprise, but the last-minute change of cast is being accommodated.
She said Smith's place is being taken by fugitive Shahzaman Syed, aka Syed Ali, 21, wanted on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.
Smith's co-stars -- Maurice Stewart, 30, wanted on a charge of first-degree murder; and David Burno, 33, wanted on a charge of armed robbery -- will continue to appear on the screens, she said.
Michael Kilian is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune.