Fugitive Jesse James Hollywood, wanted for allegedly kidnapping and murdering a San Fernando Valley teen, is back in the United States after a five-year run from the law ended in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Police allege Hollywood fled the country in 2000 to escape capture for the murder of 15-year-old Nick Markowitz, whose body was found in the Los Padres National Forest. Brazilian police officers arrested the fugitive – who was featured on both the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. and the FBI’s most-wanted lists – at a shopping mall in Saquarema, Brazil, on March 8.
According to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept., Hollywood was in possession of fake identification documents and was deemed an illegal alien. He was expelled from Brazil and flown to Los Angeles, where deputies arrested him. Hollywood’s arraignment is scheduled for April 4.
Authorities say Hollywood, along with four accomplices, kidnapped Nick Markowitz from his home on Aug. 6, 2000, as retribution for a drug-related debt Markowitz’ stepbrother owed them. After being held captive in a Santa Barbara motel room, police say Hollywood and his accomplices marched Markowitz one mile into the Los Padres National Forest where they shot him nine times with an assault rifle and buried him in a shallow grave. Hikers found his remains four days later.
Accomplices Ryan Hoyt and Graham Pressley were arrested and convicted of Markowitz’s murder in 2002. Jesse Rugge and William Skidmore were convicted of kidnapping the same year.
Authorities are uncertain as to how long Hollywood had lived in Rio de Janeiro prior to his capture, Interpol officer Wanderley Martins told the Associated Press. Martins said Hollywood got by on his wages as an English instructor and with money his family sent him. He was arrested without incident and quickly sent to California.
In a statement following news of Hollywood’s capture, Susan Markowitz, the victim’s mother, said the long-awaited arrest has brought her some much-needed peace.
“Since the moment that Nick was so brutally taken from us, our lives have been forever destroyed,” she said. “We have been living in a constant state of shock, pain and questions. Today, one of those questions was answered.”