The reactions ranged from surprise to shock when neighbors learned that a man who has lived with his in-laws for the past month is suspected of being on Florida's 10 Most Wanted list.
Willie Norris Griffith, 34, who also has gone by the names Ron Ray Griffith and Ronnie Norris, was arrested at a home near 5600 South and Highland Drive, said to be the house of his father-in-law. The arrest was made Friday evening by U.S. Marshals, Utah Public Safety officers and an officer from Florida's Department of Law Enforcement.Florida state law enforcement spokesman Tal Whiddon said Griffith has been living in Utah for a number of years under an assumed name.
Griffith was arrested in 1975 after an Orlando, Fla., cab driver was killed in an attempted robbery. Griffith was serving a 25-year-to-life sentence for first-degree murder at the Union Correctional Institute when he and two other inmates gained access to switches to the perimeter lights, then scaled the perimeter fence under the cover of darkness.
One inmate was apprehended by guards. Griffith remained free until his arrest Friday. The other escapee is still at large.
Neighbors said Griffith and his wife had relocated to Price from California and then moved with their two children to the wife's parents' home in Holladay about one month ago after Griffith was laid off from his job. He may have been working in the Salt Lake area selling water softeners since leaving Price.
"The kid that was picked up is a real fine person," a neighbor said of Griffith. None of the neighbors wanted to be identified out of consideration to the family.
Whiddon said no one at the home where Griffith and his family were living was aware he was a fugitive.