Md. fugitive is back, ready to surrender

Burglar escaped in 1979, made new life in Ariz.

September 29, 2001|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

James A. Zajonc, the convicted burglar who escaped from a Maryland prison in 1979 and built a new life in Arizona, said last night that he is back in Baltimore and plans to surrender to authorities no later than Monday.

Zajonc, who did not disclose his location, said in a telephone interview that he arrived in the state late yesterday after a cross-country auto trip.

The 46-year-old fugitive, whom Maryland declined to extradite in 1994, was ordered by an Arizona judge to return to Maryland by yesterday to surrender to authorities.

After Zajonc was arrested in May on a marijuana possession charge that carries no jail time in Arizona, Gov. Parris N. Glendening decided to renew Maryland's effort to bring him back to face justice.

Zajonc, who lived a mostly quiet existence in Arizona under the assumed identity of Paul Robinson, said last night that he had not yet made contact with his Maryland lawyer but would follow his instructions on when to give himself up.

In an interview last night, the attorney, M. Gordon Tayback, said he had spoken with his client and expected him to surrender to authorities today.

The Maryland State Police have had an open warrant on Zajonc, who prefers to be called Paul, since he escaped from a work detail at the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup halfway through a nine-year term for burglary.

He acknowledged committing dozens of break-ins in Baltimore, Baltimore County and Ocean City.

Unless he receives some form of clemency, Zajonc could be forced to serve out the remainder of his term and face additional time for escaping.

Zajonc, who has a wife and 7-year-old son in southeastern Arizona, said driving back to Maryland was "just the hardest thing I've ever done in my life."

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