James Manion: Fugitive Caught After 40 Years Of Evading Capture, What Was His Crime?

James Manion, a fugitive from authorities for 40 years, has finally been apprehended in the North Carolina town of Reidsville. The small town only had a population of approximately 14,000 people, where Manion blended in with the locals and was a model citizen, and where he ran a now-defunct business selling wallpaper. Under the name of Smart’n Up Wallcoverings, James, and his wife, Shirley Manion, went out of business in 2010. Documents show that the wallpaper business was registered to Shirley Manion.

James Manion, otherwise known as William Claybourne Taylor, has been on the run from the FBI since 1977. That year, in the town of Florida, Manion pulled the trigger of his gun in the hopes of assassinating the mayor of Williston, Florida. Manion’s attack failed to kill the mayor, who was only wounded in the assassination attempt, but killed another member of the Government of Williston. With the fugitive hunt now over, William Taylor, also known as James Manion, will be extradited to Florida, where he will stand trial for his 1977 crimes of on charges of murder and aggravated battery. He has decided that he will not attempt to block the extradition process.

When news of Manion’s arrest and past were revealed to the community, many were shocked. One of Reidsville’s long time residents, Preston Trigg, stated that he knew James and Shirley due to the fact that the Manions bought the house that Trigg’s mother owned. Trigg James Manion stated what his opinion was of the fugitive. Trigg commented on James and Shirley.

“I couldn’t say enough nice things about both of them. There was never an inkling of anything amiss. They were just unbelievably nice.”

Kim Merricks ran a dog grooming business. She knew James Manion and his wife, Sheryl, due to the fact that they were customers of her business. James and his wife would bring in their dog Prancer regularly to get trimmed. Merricks stated that James was very fond of all dogs and would talk about them at great length while being careful not to reveal too much information about himself and his past. The dog groomer commented her thoughts after she heard about the double life that her regular customer was living.

“He lit up every time he talked about his dog. He loved that dog. That was his baby. I’m still kind of numb about it. I’m still waiting on proof that it’s him because he was such a nice guy.”

The nice guy response was a common line given by people in Reidsville who knew James. Neil Hendrix lived near the Manion family and spoke about James during their encounters together at a local bar. At one point, James held a job at the bar as a cook.

“There wasn’t nothing out of the ordinary about him. He was just a nice guy. I would have never suspected, but you never know.”

Resident Jack Greene is one of the few people who found anything suspicious about the activity of the Manions. Greene’s reason for suspicion was due to the fact that James would never sign any of the checks for the couple’s wallpaper business.

“She always signed the checks. It always struck me as a little odd.”

The wallpaper business and her name on the checks were not the only pieces of a paper trail that Shirley left behind. According to records, the house that James and Shirley moved into 10 years ago was only in Shirley’s name.

Authorities have not yet stated how James Manion (William Claybourne Taylor) was finally caught.

What are your thoughts on James Manion being a fugitive for so long?

[Photo by Skip Foreman/AP Images]