New Brunswick

Most-wanted fugitive tells N.B. Mounties they've 'captured a big fish'

New Brunswick RCMP transferred convicted murderer and escape artist Richard Lee McNair to a maximum security prison in Renous on Friday.

Escape artist nabbed by Mountie on the job for just 6 weeks

New Brunswick RCMPtransferred convicted murderer and escape artist Richard Lee McNair to a maximum security prison in Renous on Friday.

RCMP officers stopped this van, driven by Richard Lee McNair at the time of his arrest, after noticing its tinted windows and Ontario licence plates. ((CBC))

McNair, 48, has been featured on America's Most Wanted since escaping from a Pollock, La., federal penitentiary in April 2006 where he was serving three back-to-back life sentences.

He was captured in the northern New Brunswick town of Campbellton on Thursday.

McNair had committed several petty burglaries of stamps, tools and small amounts of cash before he shot and killed truck driver Jerome Theis during a botched robbery at a grain elevator in 1987.

McNair's capture came after an off-duty RCMP officer spotted a suspicious-looking white, cube van with tinted windows and Ontario licence plates on Wednesday and called it in.

RCMP Const. Nelson Levesque, above, escorted the nabbed escapee to the police cruiser after rookie Const. Stephane Gagnon chased McNair on foot for about 400m and tackled him for the arrest. ((CBC))

The RCMP said rookie Const. Stephane Gagnon was patrolling Campbellton with his field coach, Const. Nelson Levesque, on Thursday when the van was spotted again. The officers turned on the cruiser'slights to pull the driver overfor acheckof identification and registration.

The vehicle refused to stop and the two officers in the cruiser followed untilthe van eventually pulled onto a gravel road neartheRestigouche Hospital,where McNair got out and began running.

Gagnon chased him into a forested area and tackled the man after about 400 metres.

After he had been apprehended, McNair told the officers they'd be on television that night and that he'd "captured a big fish," Levesque told a news conference Friday morning.

Gagnon, 29, has only been on the job for six weeks.

Police investigate contents of stolen van

After being fingerprinted, McNair signed the document withthe alias Troy Snyder, RCMP Insp. Ronald Wells said.

McNair was personable and friendly with the police officers, Wells said. "I think that's how he made his way through this. He thanked me for having such professional guys."

Richard Lee McNair, shown in a self-portrait photo, mailed himself out of one prison and crawled through a ventilation duct to escape from another. ((CBC))
It appears McNair was living in a van stolen from Belleville, Ont., before his arrest, said Wells.

Police found a computer and lock picks but no weapons inside the vehicle, Wells said. Police suspect McNair was using the machine to create false identifications. He was also carrying $600.

McNair sat in a lotus position while hewas held in a cellat thedetachment in Campbellton on Thursday night and was closely monitored by multiple officers, spokesperson Sgt. Derek Strong said.

Police are investigating if McNair was involved in any criminal activities in Canada before he is returned to the United States.

There had been two confirmed sightings of McNair in Penticton, B.C., just weeks after his escape.

Mailed himself to freedom

Listed by U.S. federal marshals as one of America's 15 most-wanted criminals, McNair escaped from prison by mailing himself out.

McNair had been repairing torn mail bags in the federal prison when he hid in a shrink-wrapped pile with just a tiny breathing straw, said the U.S. marshals. From his hiding place, he was shipped to a nearby warehouse where he worked himself free.

Part of the escape has been immortalized on YouTube, where a dashboard camera on a police cruiser caught McNair talking his way out of capture by convincing an officer looking for the convict that he is Robert Jones, a man just out for a jog.

Police said McNair is an accomplished escape artist. He spent 10 months on the run in 1992 after he clawed his way out of the North Dakota State Penitentiary through a ventilation duct.

Strong said an extradition process will have to be followed before McNair is sent back to the United States.

A $25,000 reward was being offered for McNair's capture, but as an RCMP officer, Gagnon will not be accepting it.

With files from the Canadian Press