Continuing its series on fugitives who aren’t pursued by authorities across state lines, USA Today says that for many, that “is a license to commit new crimes.” The newspaper found that with no one chasing them, unwanted fugitives went on to rape, kidnap, rob banks and kill, often as close as in the state next door. In one brutal Philadelphia killing, the suspect was a fugitive whom the police in Philadelphia repeatedly allowed to go free because he had left their state.
Another Philadelphia fugitive killed his 1-month-old daughter by hurling her tiny body into the wall of a Trenton, N.J., apartment. Another savagely beat and kicked a 79-year-old New Jersey man during a Father’s Day robbery, leaving him to die on a hallway floor. Had they been looking, the police would have had no trouble locating the criminals. They all were arrested in other states before they killed, a process that would ordinarily alert authorities in Philadelphia to come and get them. But in each case, because they had left Pennsylvania, police and prosecutors had decided in advance to take a less costly course and let them get away. Few refuse to extradite fugitives as explicitly and as often as Philadelphia, the hub of a metropolis that spans four states, where officials have chosen not to pursue more than 20,000 people once they cross the state border, just a mile and a half from the city’s courthouse.