Real Name: John Henry Mooney
Aliases: John Mooney
Wanted For: Murder, Escape
Missing Since: 1980
Details: John Mooney was an Athens, Georgia restaurateur who owned a restaurant named "Somebody's Pizza", and had a business rival named Ted K. "TK" Harty, who owned "TK Harty's". Both restaurants were leased out from a remodeled train station, and both catered to the student crowds in Athens. The two had great animosity towards each other. When Mooney was behind on rent, he decided to go over to TK's restuarant and get customers from there. While handing out fliers, TK confronted him and made him leave. In 1977, the original lease on the train station expired, and TK took over the entire complex. He had Mooney evicted, and just a few days later, on August 30, 1977, TK Harty was shot to death at his desk in his home.
Four hours later, John Mooney was brought in for questioning. When asked why he was there, Mooney said that it was probably about the shooting of TK Harty. The investigator asked how Mooney learned of this, as this information had not been released to the public. Mooney became nervous and asked to speak with his lawyer. Authorities did not have enough evidence to arrest him, so he was released.
One month later, a restaurant owner who knew both Harty and Mooney contacted the police with a bizarre story. The witness claimed that an Atlantic electrician named Elmo Florence had told him that he was willing to kill people for money. Florence also told the witness that he had been paid to kill TK Harty. The witness at first thought he was joking, and asked him how he had gotten into TK's home. Florence told him that he had broken out the glass on a window, entered the home, swept up the glass, and then waited for TK. When TK arrived, he hid until TK entered his study, which is where he was shot and killed. Florence described, in detail, the layout of the Harty home, along with the room where the murder took place. He also told the witness what type of gun was used and where the bullet entered and exited TK's head.
After hearing all of this information, the witness was certain that Florence was telling the truth, so he called the police. Going through the witness statement, authorities found more than twenty details that Florence accurately described about the murder that were not released to the public. Florence was arrested and charged with the murder of TK Harty. Florence had told the witness that John Mooney had hired him to kill TK. However, when authorities went to arrest Mooney, they learned that he had fled the country.
Two weeks later, however, authorities received a tip that Mooney was back in the area, staying with a friend at an apartment complex. He was soon arrested in the parking lot of this apartment complex. When authorities went through his belongings, they found several incriminating notes that he had written to himself. In one of the notes, Mooney wrote: "See Elmo - Offer to him if worse comes to worse to take the whole rap and say robbery was the motive. We have agreement for me to take care of his wife and family,"
Florence's trial lasted only one week; he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison at a maximum security prison in Georgia. Mooney was also convicted and sentenced to life in prison at a maximum security prison. However, three months later, he was moved to a minimum security prison. After six months of observation, prison officials gave him the job of kitchen clerk. He was given access to areas that were not available to most prisoners.
On March 16, 1980, after serving just nineteen months of his sentence, Mooney engineered his escape. He hid in a garbage can which was taken outside of the prison gate by other prisoners. When the guard locked the gate, he exited the can and went to a nearby van, where an accomplice was waiting for him. He discarded his prison wardrobe and then left the facility. Two hours went by before officials noticed that he was missing. He has not been seen for over nine years.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the April 5, 1989 episode. This case was also featured on City Confidential.
Results: Captured. Within minutes of the second airing of the case on July 26, 1989, two viewers in Scottsdale, Arizona, contacted the authorities, stating that Mooney was living there under the alias Robert J. Kelly. On August 8, Mooney was arrested at his home. He had been living in Arizona since 1982 and was enrolled at Arizona State University. He had worked at several accounting jobs in the past. He had also been married for six years and had a one-year-old child.
Mooney was returned to prison and is currently serving a life sentence. Elmo Florence was released on parole in 2007 at age 76. In recent years, Florence claimed that he was only supposed to scare TK into signing a lease allowing Mooney to stay in business but accidentally shot TK when startled. However, at his 2007 parole hearing, he admitted that he purposefully killed TK Harty.
Interestingly, a man named Lavar Bates, who was a co-worker of Mooney's and interviewed in the update, was recognized by a viewer as her long-lost father. Lavar spoke on the phone with his daughter on the night of the update and they were soon reunited.