Michael Lee Smith, Texas, Gina Johnson discussed on Dateline NBC
Gina Johnson called the flathead county sheriff's department about a certain ex-boyfriend. She didn't have to wait long for sheriff. Jim Dupont to return her call. You sounded excited. You sounded very excited. And I guess that he knew I was telling the truth because I told him details that has not been published. That Jarrett had actually told me. I don't know when I've spoken to somebody who brought an end to an international manhunt before before. I figured it happened all the time. It didn't take long after that. That was found an old mugshot of this Michael. Michael Lee Smith turned out. He'd been arrested twice for burglary back in those early years in Dallas and that photograph looked like his high school picture. Sure a lot so on a Wednesday morning in August two thousand six twenty four years after a Cessna one fifty sank into the frigid depths of little bitter Root Lake Lake. A team of plain clothes officers knocked at the door of an upscale house in Plano Texas. And there he was Nice Young Guy. A Polo shirt asked. If I'm Michael Smith I go yeah another guy jumps on the side. It's a good at my face. This is jared ambrose the fugitive so many had searched for the man who pulled off the impossible at vanished for decades. Did you know immediately. The JIG was up I did not know I didn't know I. I was very disoriented. And so what happened was the guy had a papers in his hands and the top of the papers it had my it also just from Brunswick and so I saw that I pretty much put the dust together pretty quickly yeah. It's one of the officers to fetch the pet parrot. He put out on the patio to catch the morning sun. What went through your mind when you realized OK finally got me? That was fairly calm. I didn't really you know sort of process all this. And then just like that. He was in jail in a padded added cell as he recalls it deemed a suicide risks. But there wasn't upside he got to call home to talk to his parents for the first time in nearly only a quarter century. What was that conversation like? You know surprisingly very calm and it was like nothing ever happened almost to catch up with them. He was amazing. They never saw lost hope over the years they never actually moved switch houses and change a number because they always come back. There forgot you never So why why did he or he and Diane decide they just had to run away in the first place. Why come up with that crazy plan? And why did he run after she was killed. How did he pull off his decades long disappearing that that is quite a story straight Outta them movie when people say what is this story about in some people probably see it as a crime story some people see it as a love story definitely a love story and unfortunately fortunately a tragic accident happened in hand into drowning and I went to the shock and lost basic my mind after he left at Lake in Montana he took a train New York and then hitchhiked to Texas where the man he was riding with stole the twenty two hundred dollars Eric Advantage advantage to save in one of those duffle bags when the plane went down so there he was in Texas totally destitute hungry homeless hopeless and then he met a guy who gave him a place to stay for free at told him how to get a new identity a went to a cemetery and found somebody deceased there was like a year old and so he would not have any record on him dental records doctors remers or anything I think he was about your age? He's about close to my age. Michael Lee Smith of all the names per generic name and same day went to the records building in Dallas and ask for a birth certificate. Here's first name. Here's his birthday. Five minutes later. The Guy came back with a certified copy stamped. No questions asked side a little harder these days i. I don't think you can do that these days. But back. Then he could and he used that birth certificate driver's license and Social Security Card and then a job as a carpenter uh-huh and a ged and eventually a degree from the University of Texas Arlington Aerospace Engineering. Then hiccup gotten when you start applying for security clearances with erased jobs. They're gonNA dig deep into your background and I knew that they would probably probably find them. Not Michael Smith and so I kind of pretty much the side of the time to switch to get into computers. He turned out to be quite an and entrepreneur. Is Tech Support Private Lesson Web Design Company. Lots of money. Nice Big House. Shit what two or three cars. The couple of cars yeah. It was toys a lot of hard work over the years and eventually so the work sort of became Salvation eventually he landed Honda racing as a client and with a US passport now. He traveled the world including that trip to Japan with Gina that we told you and then a few months after their breakup. Those officers were at his door and he was in. The clink was was kind of a lightbulb moment. First few days I kind of that. I figured out the only person who actually knew about my past that would do anything would have been jeanette so it was this relationship revenge. That's what it looked like to me. What is it a blessing in disguise? Though it was crazy it sounds you know after twenty for years living is Michael Smith. I finally get my family back again but blessing. You're not remember. There was a steep penalty waiting to be paid Yorick can browser was facing a charge of negligent homicide back in Montana and no matter that he matured into that sleek and polished business owner in Plano. Texas you was facing as much as a decade and the very humble confines of a state prison coming up for for the first time in public the pilot tells his story. I'm laying coffee and a water halfway on the wing with my arm trying to open the door open and try to reach into get Dan.