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One of FBI's Most Wanted Possibly in L.A. Area

Crime: Authorities say the Louisianian killed his wife and another woman. A man reported seeing him at a gas station.

October 25, 2000|JOSH MEYER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Was that Jesse James Caston, one of the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives, getting gas last month at a Westminster service station?

FBI officials said Tuesday that it might have been, based on a solid eyewitness sighting and other information--including his new work boots.

And so the bureau issued a public appeal for help in catching Caston, circulating photos and information about the former construction worker so those who might have come across him will drop a dime--or at least stay out of his way.

They're also offering a $50,000 reward for information leading "directly to" his arrest.

"We don't want people to take any action whatsoever," said Special Agent Matthew McLaughlin, a bureau spokesman. "We just want them to make a phone call."

Caston, 35, may not be the most notorious person on the much-publicized list of federal fugitives. That dubious honor falls to international terrorist Osama Bin Laden, Irish mafia chieftain James "Whitey" Bulger or Eric Rudolph, who is wanted in connection with the Atlanta Olympics bombing in 1996.

But Caston, believed armed, is considered to be among the most dangerous.

The tall, muscular and hot-tempered Louisiana native is wanted on suspicion of killing his wife, Angela, and a woman friend April 1. Authorities say he then ambushed and shot two police officers who had stopped him, wounding one of them.

He is also suspected of abducting a man in Louisiana three days later and forcing him to drive him to Texas.

On April 14, the FBI obtained a federal arrest warrant, charging him with unlawful flight to escape prosecution.

Caston is white, weighs about 210 pounds, is 5 feet 11 to 6 feet 1 inches tall, has blue eyes and a burn scar on his right hand.

He also has a "J" tattooed on his right forearm and the name Angela--for his late wife--tattooed in script on the left side of his chest.

A witness, not identified by the FBI, said he believes he crossed paths with Caston on Aug. 18, when both were buying gas at a station at 14472 Brookhurst Ave. in Westminster.

The witness said he thought the man was a construction worker. He drove a pickup with a cement pumper hooked to the back. The man's work boots were new and shiny.

The next night, the man saw Caston on "America's Most Wanted." Caston, it was revealed on the show, fled home without work boots. And he had a deep Southern drawl.

Remembering the man at the gas station, the witness called the FBI. "We showed him the photos and he said, 'That's the guy,' " McLaughlin said. The agent also said Caston had family ties in this area.

It has been 50 years since the FBI created the Most Wanted List. Then-Director J. Edgar Hoover did it in response to a reporter's question about the names and descriptions of the "toughest guys" the bureau was pursuing.

Authorities cautioned people against confronting Caston--or any other fugitive.

"We don't want people to be deceived that this guy could be some nice, quiet, affable guy," McLaughlin said.

"There are often many sides to a person's character, and if you don't see them, you would never know that they have that capacity for violence."

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