PRESS RELEASE ON
Reward Increased to $1 Million on
Escaped, Convicted Killer, Joanne Chesimard
Chesimard also included on domestic terrorist list
West Trenton - Long-time fugitive
Joanne Chesimard will be looking over her shoulder a lot more in Cuba
now that the reward for her capture has been increased to $1,000,000.
Attorney General Peter Harvey, Colonel Rick Fuentes and others today
announced that the U.S. Attorney General authorized the federal bounty
to be increased from $50,000 on April 28, 2005.
Chesimard was a member of the Black Liberation Army on May 2, 1973,
(32 years ago today) when she and two accomplices began a shootout
with two state troopers. Trooper Werner Foerster was severely wounded
and then executed on the roadside by Chesimard.
One of the armed attackers, James Coston, was killed in the exchange
of gunfire. Chesimard and the car's driver, Clark Squire, were
arrested after an intensive manhunt. They were charged, tried and
sentenced for murder. Squire remains in jail, but in 1978, Chesimard
escaped with help from the B.L.A. She later fled to Cuba.
Now known as, Assata Shakur, the 57-year-old Chesimard is living free
in Cuba under the protection of Fidel Castro. The State Police has
gathered intelligence about her ever since her escape from jail.
Diplomatic efforts have so far failed to bring the convicted murderer
One year ago, Attorney General Peter Harvey, Colonel Rick Fuentes,
State Police Lt. Kevin Tormey and officials from the Newark Division
of the FBI met with FBI Director Robert Mueller. They relayed the
details of the case along with the status of the fugitive
investigation and requested the $1 million reward. The lengthy
justification and approval process at the U.S. Department of Justice
culminated with the authorization of the money by Attorney General
Gonzales last week.
"Trooper Foerster gave his life bravely in the line of duty,
protecting the people of this State and dedicating himself to the
highest principles of the New Jersey State Police," said Attorney
General Harvey. "He was brutally murdered 2 years and 10 months into
his service as a Trooper. This reward will help bring his killer to
The reward money will be given for information leading to the capture
of Joanne Chesimard and her safe return to New Jersey to continue her
prison sentence for the murder of Trooper Foerster. Since 1979, she
has been classified as a federal fugitive and the subject of an
Unlawful Flight to Avoid Confinement warrant.
"This money sends the message that the passage of time does not
diminish the intent and energy of the State Police and FBI to bring
this convicted killer to justice," said Colonel Rick Fuentes. "We
believe that this increased reward, and the placing of her name on
terrorism lists will bring opportunities for the capture and return of
Fuentes said that wanted flyers in both English and Spanish announcing
the reward have been prepared and will be distributed across the U.S.,
the Caribbean, South America, Central America and Europe. Earlier this
year, Lt. Colonel Juan Mattos took advantage of an invitation to go to
the Dominican Republic to brief police officials from Latin-American
countries on the fugitive investigation.
"Our police, just like our soldiers, put their lives on the line every
day so the rest of us can be safe," Acting Governor Richard J. Codey
said. "Trooper Werner Foerster was a hero. His killer must be found
and brought to justice. I welcome anyone to come forward if they have
information that can lead to an arrest."
U.S. Attorney Lee Solomon, ASAC Peter Ruiz and ASAC Richard Kelly of
the F.B.I. Newark Office, New Jersey Department of Corrections
Commissioner Devon Brown and other law enforcement representatives
were at today's event to lend their critical support to this fugitive
investigation. Also in attendance was retired State Police Lt. Rich
Ryan, who undertook the initial fugitive investigation in 1979.
Clark Squire, a.k.a. Sundiata Acoli, remains in jail serving a life
sentence for his involvement in the murder of Trooper Foerster. The
State Police continue to offer input each time he comes up for a