An address in Portugal was one of several leads they wanted to check, but Schroeder said there was nothing special about it.
"It was another box to get checked, so to speak," he said.
That changed last week when details started falling into place with the help of Portuguese authorities.
By the weekend, U.S. authorities were on a plane to Portugal. On Monday, Portuguese police staking out Wright's home found him there.
William May, the pilot of the Detroit-Miami flight hijacked in 1972, said Wright was the group's leader.
"It's been 40 years," May said. "I'm surprised there was even any interest in finding him still."
Alan Clendenning in Madrid, Jamey Keaton in Paris, Wayne Parry in Howell, N.J., Samantha Henry in Newark, N.J., Geoff Mulvihill in Trenton, N.J., Tom Breen in Raleigh, N.C., and Karen Zraick, Rhonda Shafner, Barbara Sambriski and Judith Ausuebel in New York contributed to this report.
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