Wednesday, September 29, 1999

General News Feature: N.C. car thief comes home after 40 years

Greensboro News & Record-

September 29, 1999
Author/Byline: JANET A. BRINDLE 

Staff Writer
Edition: ALLSection: TRIAD/STATE

        A crafty car thief - on the run for 40 years - was finally caught after someone tipped off Florida deputies.

        William Meggs, 64, was arrested Thursday by Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies in Tampa, Fla. Meggs was living under the alias of Fred Culley, according to jailers there.

        Meggs was convicted on Feb. 14, 1959, for stealing a car in Guilford County, according to records from the North Carolina Department of Correction. No home address is listed for Meggs on his arrest record, which is more than 40 years old.

        N.C. Correction spokeswoman Christy Hardee said Meggs was sentenced to three years at the Stanly County Correctional Center but was eligible for parole in June 1959. There are few remaining court records on Meggs, but apparently, his parole was denied. He escaped from the prison on Oct. 20 of that year, according to state records.

        Hardee did not know if Meggs escaped while he was part of a work crew or if he outwitted the prison's security measures.

        The Stanly prison was closed this year, and Meggs' records could not be immediately located by correction officials at the Albemarle Correctional Institute, where those records were forwarded, Hardee said.

        Another Department of Correction spokeswoman, Patty McQuillan, described Meggs' heist as unique. He went to a car dealership and asked to test drive a car.

        While on his test drive, Meggs went to another car dealership, where he traded the car in for another car.

        Records don't indicate which dealerships were involved.

        Meggs was a fugitive for his crime until Thursday.

        Deputies in Hillsborough County, Fla., were not immediately available to comment on the nature of the arrest Tuesday night, but jailers said Meggs was in custody in Tampa.

        McQuillan said a parole officer in Tampa told her that police got a tip about Meggs. He is likely to be paroled in Florida.

        Apparently, Tampa law officials have known Meggs and been friendly with him for many years, but they had no idea he was a fugitive because he used an alias, McQuillan said.

        Meggs is listed in North Carolina's inmate escape directory as a white man with brown hair and brown eyes, weighing 180 pounds and standing 6 feet 1 inch tall.

        But Meggs isn't the state's longest missing prisoner, according to records from the Department of Correction. One man escaped in 1947 and still has not been found.

Copyright 1999  Greensboro News &Record