Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jesse James Hollywood

On the Lam

The Jesse James Hollywood case aired on the true crime television shows America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries, and although the shows generated hundreds of leads, none of them panned out.

Ronald Biggs
Ronald Biggs

But the FBI, which was monitoring phone calls made by Hollywood's parents, did get a solid lead in March 2005 when they learned that Hollywood's cousin, a woman he hadn't seen in years, was planning to pay him a visit — in Brazil.

Brazil has long been a haven for international fugitives. Nazis, former dictators and disgraced mafiosos have all been drawn to the South American country, where the living is easy and the extradition laws are lax. Included in this dubious roster is Josef Mengele, the so-called "Death Angel" who performed hideous experiments on children at Auschwitz concentration camp, and who drowned while swimming at a Brazilian beach in 1979. Ronald Biggs, who robbed $50 million from a mail train traveling between Glasgow and London in 1963 in a crime that became known as "The Great Train Robbery," was another. (In 2001, an old and decrepit Biggs voluntarily returned to England — and prison — in exchange for free health care and a chance to see his family.)

Authorities soon learned that Hollywood was living under the alias Michael Costa Giroux and claimed to be a native of Rio. He and his girlfriend Marcia — a woman 15 years his senior — first lived in Copacabana, Rio's glitzy beach and nightlife district immortalized by the Barry Manilow song, where he subsisted by passing out promotional fliers for a local bar.

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