Judy Lynn Hayman, who authorities say escaped from a Michigan prison nearly 37 years ago while serving time for attempted larceny, is seen in this photo provided by the Michigan Department of Corrections.
DETROIT -- When this winter's bitter cold and snow left Michigan Department of Corrections investigators stuck in the office rather than out on the street looking for parole absconders, they turned to dozens of decades-old cold cases to keep occupied.
It paid off.
On Monday, police arrested 60-year-old Judy Lynn Hayman in San Diego, 36 years after she escaped from a Michigan prison.
"With some of the bad weather, some days it was not safe to travel on the roads," said Lt. Charles Levens with the Michigan Department of Corrections Absconder Recovery Unit.
San Diego police received a call from the corrections department Monday and went to an apartment in the 3500 block of First Avenue armed with a 1970s photo of an escaped inmate.
"The eyes gave it away," said San Diego police spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer. Something about her eyes was distinctive ... and (police) believed this was the same person."
The woman, who was with her 32-year-old son, identified herself as Jamie Lewis and had government documents that supported that name, but with the photo and inconsistencies in her statement, police had their doubts.
"She ended up confessing that her name was in fact Judy Lynn Hayman," Mayer said. "She was booked into jail."
Hayman was behind bars Wednesday night at the Las Colinas Detention Facility in Santee, Calif., and is expected to appear in court Thursday morning for an extradition hearing.
In June 1976, she was sentenced to 16 months to two years for attempted larceny. She escaped from the Detroit House of Corrections on April 14, 1977, according to state records.
Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said the conviction stemmed from shoplifting clothes at two stores.
"She will come back here and have a few months to go before she could potentially be paroled," he said.
It's unclear how Hayman escaped from prison, but she likely just walked away. That act could result in additional charges in Michigan, officials said.
Officials investigated about 40 cases of people who escaped during the 1960s and '70s and were never captured during the bad weather days.
Levens worked with Michigan State Police to get more readable fingerprint cards and sent them to the FBI in Virginia, asking officials to run the prints to see if they matched people going by aliases.
He passed information on to different investigators. Tim Hardville connected the dots that cracked the Hayman case.
She had used several aliases, but "fingerprints don't change," Marlan said. "And there were a few arrests out there in different names."
It was not immediately clear Wednesday what the arrests were for or what the aliases were.
Several years ago, bad weather also prompted Michigan officials to begin to track down Susan LeFevre, another escaped inmate.
She was serving 10-20 years for selling 3 grams of heroin to an undercover cop. She disappeared from prison in 1976. She was discovered in San Diego, living as Marie Walsh in 2008.
LeFevre spent 13 more months in prison then returned to San Diego where she resumed her life with her husband of more than 20 years. She wrote a book about her ordeal called "A Tale of Two Lives."
The corrections department said more arrests are anticipated from their work this winter on the cold cases.
"We believe we might have enough information to capture three or four more people still on the run," Levens said.
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