Almost 34 years ago to the date, Ata Yousef El Ammouri was charged with the shooting death of Joe Harris on July 22, 1979.
The motive for the killing? Harris refused to pay for a single can of beer at the local store owned and operated by El Ammouri, then 31-years-old.
As the man left the store, El Ammouri fired his gun striking the man in the back and killing him. El Ammouri was charged with murder and taken into custody where he later posted bail of $100,000 – an astounding amount of money back then.
El Ammouri then jumped bail and was believed to have fled back to his native Jordan to avoid prosecution.
Now, 34 years later and El Ammouri returned to the United States to attend a graduation ceremony, according to Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart.
Apparently, El Ammouri believed that the same time that “erases all wounds” would expunge the memory of his outstanding arrest warrant from the eyes of the government. It isn’t as if he didn’t have good reason to think so.
“Today’s capture of Ata Yousef El Ammouri should send a message that the simple passage of time does not eradicate our commitment to bringing fugitives to justice,” said Sheriff Dart. “I want to thank the State Department and the various state and federal agencies for their outstanding intelligence gathering throughout this initiative as well as our team on the ground for their patience and professionalism, all of which has ensured that this man will finally answer for his crimes.”
Dart believes El Ammouri spent as much as nine months in the US back in 1998 on 1979 murder.
This time things were different. Cooperation between the State Department and other federal agencies led to his arrest as he got off the plane from Jordan.
El Ammouri is accused of killing 31-year-old Joe Harris on July 22, 1979, after Harris walked out of El Ammouri’s Grocery and Liquor store in the 500 block of east 67th Street without paying for a can of Miller Lite, authorities said.
He posted $100,000 bail when he was charged in 1979 and was released, then disappeared.
Fugitive Wanted For 1979 Chicago Murder Arrested At O’Hare
1979 fugitive arrested at O’Hare