- Associated Press - Monday, September 14, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - A 46-year-old man who lived under an assumed name for much of the past 16 years has been arrested in the 1999 killing of a woman in Chicago.

Jerome Lawrence was in custody Monday after a Cook County judge denied him bail Sunday. He was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree murder after an acquaintance saw him in Chicago and called police.

He is accused of striking Marjorie Collette, 65, and smothering her with a pillow in her Chicago home in May 1999 before slitting her dog’s throat and stealing a bag of electronics and a safe, prosecutors said.

Lawrence was arrested and jailed in Marion, Arkansas, but he escaped when Chicago investigators left him in an interview room for hours, the Chicago Tribune reported, (https://trib.in/1K9vjNj ). He apparently crawled through the ceiling and walked out of the jail.

Prosecutors said he was able to evade arrest in the killing for years by living under a new name.

“Just weeks later … he was apprehended in Florida after an unsuccessful carjacking,” assistant state’s attorney Joseph DiBella said. “The defendant refused to give his name, he was processed as a John Doe and eventually began using the name Joseph Mayhar. For the next decade, the defendant was in and out of Florida Corrections, and Florida never discovered that he had a nationwide manhunt for him out of Cook County.”

Lawrence’s record included six felony charges in Cook County and four felony charges in Florida. Those ten charges include burglary, robbery and arson.

Another man, John Cameron, 67, pleaded guilty to a murder charge and was sentenced to 24 years in prison in connection with the case. He is due to be released from the Dixon Correctional Center in 2026.

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