A Jamaican-born man suspected of killing his girlfriend in front of her three young children in Massachusetts nearly a decade ago is the newest member of the U.S. Marshals Service “15 Most Wanted” list.
Antonio George James has been on the run since the freezing February night in 1996 when Terri Yvonne-Cherie Thomas was stabbed to death in the bedroom of her Springfield, Mass., apartment.
Ms. Thomas, 25, worked as a youth probation officer and had three boys, a 6-year-old and 4-year-old twins, who authorities say were in the room when their mother was killed.
Police records show James had a history of disputes with Ms. Thomas, including one that involved a 911 call hours before her death.
The marshals added James to their list last week to put new federal muscle behind a case that for years has embodied the limitations local police face when pursuing a suspect likely to have fled their jurisdiction long ago.
“In Springfield, this was the biggest case in their community,” said Geoff Shank, the U.S. marshal in charge of fugitive investigations for the Northeast.
“He could be anywhere,” added Dan W. Spellacy, the supervisory deputy U.S. marshal for Western Massachusetts. “We’re putting out an all-out effort to find him.”
James, 30, who previously was listed on the Springfield and the Massachusetts State Police most wanted lists, had a history of criminal activity in the early 1990s when he used such aliases as Paul Bogle and James Antonio.
He used “Paul Bogle” when he was arrested in 1993 on suspicion of dealing crack cocaine in Springfield. After cutting a deal with authorities, he served a three-year probation term for possession.
“He [also] had a long history of domestic violence,” Deputy U.S. Marshal Michael C. Nelson said. On at least two occasions before Ms. Thomas was slain, police were called to her apartment to break up fights between her and James.
On Feb. 15, 1996, police got a 911 call from Ms. Thomas in which she told them James refused to leave. Officers responded and escorted him to his car parked on a nearby street, but did not arrest him.
According to the Massachusetts State Police, James broke back into the apartment through a second-story bedroom window hours after the 911 call.
The marshals believe Ms. Thomas was asleep with her children when James appeared in the bedroom holding a knife and that after a brief fight he stabbed her.
Authorities said the action woke Ms. Thomas’ eldest boy, whom James then told to keep quiet. The twins are said to have slept through the murder.
“The thing that makes this really sad and kind of makes it stick out in an almost unforgettable fashion is that he brutally stabs his girlfriend in the chest and then she dies right there in bed in front of her children,” Marshal Shank said.
The marshals “most wanted” poster lists James as a black man, 5-feet-9 and 160 pounds. He’s “considered armed and dangerous.”