30 Years Later, The Law Comes Knocking
Posted April 30, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT
SMITHFIELD — By most accounts, John Pinder has led a model life, but the hard-working Johnston County family man admits he made mistakes when he was younger, mistakes he felt he paid for long ago.
Now, Pinder is fighting the court system to keep his troubled past in the past.
"I didn't change my name," Pinder said. "I didn't hide from anybody."
Fifty-five-year-old John Pinder has lived and worked in Johnston County for 30 years.
"I tried to live a straight and good life," he says -- a straight and good life for the 30 yearssincehe escaped from a prison work-release program in Maryland.
"I made a bad judgment I walked off and came here to look after her."
"Her" is Pinder's wife Linda, who was pregnant at the time. Shortly after his escape, Pinder says he worked not only to support Linda, but he tried to make amends to his ex-wife and first son Johnny.
He has court documents that show he finally paid the child support debt that sent him to prison.
He thought it was all over.
But three decades later, this past Easter morning, Johnston County deputies knocked at his door and arrested Pinder for the 1970 escape.
"I feel like if he was paying his support, they knew where he was. I don't think they should be able to come back 30 years and take a man that has not had any kind of record in this county or state," his son says.
Many of the people Pinder has worked for or helped over the years have shown their support. Even the son he left those many years ago has put away the bitterness to re-establish a relationship.
But the ultimate question is whether the courts will put aside Pinder's 30-year-old mistake.
"I feel like I've done the right thing in life from that point on. And I would like to be given the chance to finish out my life with my family here," Pinder says.
Pinder's ex-wife, Darlene Lewis, says she doesn't hold any grudges and that Pinder should not go back to prison.
An extradition hearing is scheduled for May 23 in Johnston County.