U.S. air force deserter found alive in California after 35 year manhunt

Ex-Kirtland AFB officer missing since 1983 found

Ex-Kirtland AFB officer missing since 1983 found

A man who allegedly deserted the U.S. Air Force and vanished without a trace 35 years ago was found at a California home living under a fake name, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations said in a news release.

Hughes has claimed that he was depressed about his time in the Air Force and so chose to leave. He said he had lived in California since then.

If convicted, the officer could face reduction in rank, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, confinement in a military prison for up to five years and a dishonorable discharge, FindLaw.com reports. But the Air Force never heard from him since he left for Europe. "Until we have the whole story, we don't have the story". On December 1983, the Air Force declared Hughes a deserter.

Hughes was last seen in the Albuquerque area withdrawing $28,500 from his bank account at 19 different branches, the Air Force said, though not indicating when. He handled classified planning and analysis of NATO's command, control and communications surveillance systems.

Hughes, a Seattle native was arrested without incident on Wednesday.

He was seized by air force agents at his California home after being interviewed by officials investigating passport fraud earlier this month.

He specialised in radar surveillance.

Hughes was assigned to temporary duty in the Netherlands, working with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to test its new Airborne Warning and Control System, created to be used for surveillance, command and control, battle space management and communications.

Capt. Huges had a Top Secret/Single Scope Background Investigation clearance at the time giving him access to US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secret information.

But an Office of Special Investigations spokesperson Linda Card told the Albuquerque Journal there was no indication Hughes was involved with the Soviet Union or that any classified information was leaked. Nevertheless speculation persisted that Hughes may have been abducted by or defected to the Soviets.

Checks with law enforcement around the USA and overseas, alongside interviews with those who knew Hughes, did not provide enough information for the Air Force to find him at the time.

It was not clear where Hughes was living and the Associated Press reported that it was also unclear whether Hughes had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

" 'We do not feel he disappeared voluntarily, ' his sister, Christine Hughes, said in the article".

In the wake of those disasters, Los Angeles Times journalist Tad Szulc reported in July of 1986 that intelligence officers believed the rockets may have been sabotaged with Hughes' help.

"Szulc quoted an unidentified intelligence officer who told him, "[Hughes] is worth his weight in gold to the Russians in terms of future 'Star Wars, ' if we have them".

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    Air Force Officer Missing For 35 Years Found Living In California

    OSI agents assigned to Travis AFB in northern California went to his home and arrested the fugitive captain without incident. It is unknown whether family had been in contact with Hughes or knew of his whereabouts following his 1983 disappearance.

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