As jurors convicted him of rape, the man considered armed and dangerous jumped bail. For a week now John Buckley has been on the run, his victim forced into hiding.
On trial for rape, John Buckley told the court about his service as an Army Ranger deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. Then just as the jury reached a verdict, the judge had an unusual announcement. "It appears that the defendant, Mr. Buckley has voluntarily chosen not to return to court," Judge Thomas Clark told the jurors.
Free on bond, Buckley simply walked out of the courthouse before the jury found him guilty. Investigators found Buckley's court-ordered electronic ankle monitor cut off and left in the street. Now, catching him is only part of the challenge. Authorities fear he may want more than just to get away.
Mary Houlihan is the Director of Victim Services in the Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney's Office. Her first priority was securing Buckley's rape victim who had just testified against him. "Predominantly I was concerned with her protection and how to get her to a place where she would be safe," Houlihan said, "but very quickly I started realizing there's other people he's really, really mad at. He's made that clear the whole time as we've built up to trial."
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Todd Bradbury was the lead prosecutor in the case, but he says he's more concerned for the police officers who investigated Buckley and any other officers the fugitive could encounter. "And that could be in other jurisdictions too, you know, if he happens to get pulled over for a traffic offense in some other state, potentially those officers would be at risk," Bradbury said.
"My biggest fear," Houlihan added, "he is so self-righteous in his anger and vehemence about the whole world being against him and this sounding like a God-complex kind of thing, my biggest fear is more that he just... he's too big to just go away quietly."
A lot of people have asked why no one stopped Buckley when he left the courthouse. The simple answer is Buckley was allowed to leave because he was out on bond and confined to his home with an electronic monitor. With the judge's permission he could also go see his doctor or go to his attorney's office. He was even allowed to go to Indiana for a funeral.
On the day of the verdict he left the courthouse at 2:51p and went home. When jurors returned with their verdict at 3:50p his whereabouts started to be questioned. 21 minutes later an alert went off indicating his ankle bracelet had been cut. However, according to the terms of Buckley's bond, until the verdict, or after he removed the electronic monitor, no one could stop him from leaving the courthouse and going home.
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