The Air Force Office of Special Investigations has said that a fugitive captain has been apprehended in California after being declared a deserter nearly 35 years ago. When investigators confronted him about "inconsistencies about his identity", the man confessed that his real name was William Howard Hughes Jr., and that he deserted the Air Force in 1983, according to the Office of Special Investigations.
Instead, investigators said Capt. Hughes went to 19 Albuquerque bank branches and withdrew a total of $28,500 from his account.
Although Hughes told the authorities he abandoned his air force career because he had gotten "depressed", and assumed a fake identity before settling down in California, the AFOSI authorities said there were a number of questions that still remain unanswered regarding his disappearance, which will be revealed as investigation into his actions continued.
Hughes' neighbors in Daly City, California, told CNN he went by the name "Tim" and that he lived with a woman they said they believed to be his wife.
Capt Hughes is now being held at Travis Air Force Base in California, a statement from the USAF's office of special investigations said.
According to a news release, Hughes admitted his identity during an interview with the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service as part of a passport fraud investigation.
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William Howard Hughes, Jr. was apprehended at his home in California without incident and is now awaiting pre-trial confinement, the OSI said. He could face up to five years of confinement, forfeiture of all pay and dishonorable discharge from the Air Force.
Air Force Capt. William Howard Hughes Jr. started at Kirtland in 1981, working on NATO's command, control and communications surveillance systems. That would be "totally out of character for the Bill we knew", she said.
At the time of his disappearance he had just returned from the Netherlands, where he had been working with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officers. "We do not feel he disappeared voluntarily", his sister, Christine Hughes, said. Linda Card from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations elaborated.
His family did not appear to know about his disappearance with the Albuquerque Journal reporting that his sisters said at the time that they thought he might have been abducted.
In 1985 and 1986, several French and American rocket ships failed to launch properly and subsequently exploded, including the Challenger space shuttle. "Until we have the whole story, we don't have the story".
"He is worth his weight in gold to the Russians in terms of future 'Star Wars, ' if we have them", Szulc quotes an unidentified intelligence officer as telling him.