Reward rises to US$2m for militant escaped killer

Woman militant placed on FBI's 'most wanted' list 40 years after she murdered state trooper

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 May, 2013, 1:40am

A Black Liberation Army militant who fled prison for Cuba after being convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 has been added to the FBI's "most wanted" terrorist list and the reward for helping to catch her doubled to US$2 million.

The FBI is still offering US$1 million for information leading to the arrest of Joanne Chesimard.

But now New Jersey is adding another US$1 million, state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said yesterday on the 40th anniversary of the killing.

Chesimard, born in New York, was a member of the Black Liberation Army, a revolutionary activist organisation, when she killed Trooper Werner Foerster in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike on May 2, 1973.

She was found guilty of first-degree murder in 1977 and sentenced to life in prison.

But she escaped two years later from a lock-up in Clinton, New Jersey, and lived underground before being located in Cuba in 1984.

She may still be living on the island, the FBI said.

The murder took place after Foerster and another trooper stopped Chesimard and two accomplices for a motor vehicle violation, said the FBI. Chesimard, who was wanted for her involvement in felonies including bank robbery, opened fire on the troopers "seemingly without provocation", the FBI said.

One was wounded and Foerster was fatally shot "execution-style at point-blank range".

One of her companions was killed in the shootout and another fled with Chesimard. Both were caught and the accomplice is still in prison.

The FBI describes her as having scars on her chest, left shoulder, abdomen and left knee. She has used birthdays in 1947 and 1952 and may wear African tribal clothing, the FBI said.

The imprisoned accomplice, Sundiata Acoli, lost a bid for parole in August 2004 after 30 years in prison.

The parole board said he should stay in jail because his account of the gun battle contradicted evidence at his 1974 trial.

Acoli, who was born Clark Edward Squire, is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Cumberland, Maryland.