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Killer Who Fled Prison Hospital Held After Heist

Crime: Vacaville inmate is arrested in San Diego after allegedly robbing a restaurant. He escaped three weeks ago.

May 04, 1997|From Times Wire Services

SAN DIEGO — A convicted killer who escaped from Vacaville prison last month was arrested Saturday morning after he allegedly robbed a diner with a sawed-off shotgun, police said.

David Anderson, 36, was taken into custody at Rudford's restaurant about 1 a.m., according to San Diego police spokesman Bill Jacobson.

Anderson, who was alone, did not resist arrest. Jacobson said the unidentified amount of money he had taken from the cash register was recovered.

Jeff Kasha, owner of Rudford's, said employees told him Anderson appeared to be "casing" the diner before he demanded the money.

"He was out there with the pay phone for about 10 minutes. He was scoping out the place," Kasha said. "Then he came in, brandished the weapon and said, 'Gimme the money!' "

Kasha said a waitress ran into the kitchen and called 911.

"She told the operator, 'We're being robbed right now!' And 45 seconds later they showed up and arrested him one block away. Those cops were incredible."

Anderson, who has two teardrop tattoos under his right eye, was described by police as a white man with red hair and blue eyes. He is 5 feet 10 and weighs about 150 pounds.

Kasha said one of his employees saw Anderson's facial tattoos.

The family-owned diner was half full at the time of the robbery, according to Kasha. No one was hurt.

Anderson, who is HIV-positive, escaped from the California Medical Facility in Vacaville on April 10 after cutting the bars in his cell and slipping past an unmanned guard tower.

He was serving a term of 16 years to life in prison for murder, robbery, grand theft and possession of stolen property. He had been at the medical facility since 1993.

On Thursday, authorities released the contents of a letter he sent to one of his former jailers in which he described visits to the beach and amusement parks.

Postmarked from Santa Clarita, Anderson wrote that he had "played with some precious little kids" since his escape two weeks ago from Vacaville.

He also said that he was sorry for the murder for which he was convicted and vowed not to become violent if stopped by police.

A $1-million warrant had been issued for Anderson's arrest. The nationwide search was joined by the FBI.

Jacobson said Anderson was being held Saturday morning at the San Diego County Jail.

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