John Whiting, the Maricopa County fugitive arrested Tuesday after he was on the run for nearly 30 years, was pretty busy in the three decades he was being sought by authorities. During his time as a fugitive, Whiting was charged with 14 crimes and convicted eight times without anyone connecting the dots that he was a wanted man.
The crimes of which Whiting, 51, was convicted during this time weren't small potatoes, either. They include driving with a blood-alcohol content of .167 and suggesting a sexual encounter with a 12-year-old.
In 2007, police said he pointed a gun at three juveniles and asked who wanted to go first. He was arrested for aggravated menacing but was convicted of a lesser charge and fined, according to court records dug up by the Newark Advocate,.
Whiting, who was living in Ohio under the alias "Gregory Pierce," originally was convicted of manslaughter for beating his landlord to death after an argument in 1978. He served a year in jail and was sentenced to five years' probation for his role in the death. While on probation for about six months, Whiting left Maricopa County and has been considered a fugitive since September 16, 1980.
While on the run, Whiting was fingerprinted each time he was arrested. Those fingerprints were entered into an FBI database, but nobody in law enforcement made the connection between "Pierce" and the outstanding warrant for Whiting.
Thomas Henman, a supervisory deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service in Phoenix, told the Advocate he was looking into how authorities never made the connection, saying "we're curious, obviously."
We're curious, too.
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Because Whiting was originally convicted during the Carter Administration -- when computer technology and criminal databases weren't nearly as advanced as they are today -- we called the Maricopa County Probation Department to find out whether his 1978 fingerprints ever made their way to the federal database.
The department tells us it's looking into Whiting's case -- and into inmate tracking procedures as they were in 1978 -- and will get back to us.