Image: John Wayne Thomson
AP file
John Wayne Thomson, 46, is suspected in the disappearances of two people in Washington state.
updated 8/7/2006 10:08:15 PM ET 2006-08-08T02:08:15

A fugitive who was sought for two murders, including one in Washington, was captured Monday after two newspaper employees tackled him during a carjacking, authorities said.

John Wayne Thomson, 46, was arrested in Victorville and taken into custody. It was not immediately known if bail had been set.

Sheriff's investigators said Thomson attempted to carjack one vehicle Monday afternoon, but when he failed he scaled a wall at a restaurant and attempted to take another vehicle.

Two Victorville Daily Press employees saw Thomson trying to force his way into the woman's car, Sheriff Gary Penrod said. Rey Bantug and Joe Iskandar rushed to help the woman and held Thomson until sheriff's deputies arrived.

"He tossed her like a rag," Bantug said, who added that Thomson was carrying a hammer.

Prosecutors charged Thomson with murder in the death of Charles Ray Hedlund, 55, of Lucerne Valley, who was reported missing Wednesday.

Penrod said a medical examiner confirmed that it was Hedlund's body found Saturday near his abandoned blood-covered pickup truck off Interstate 15.

‘A violent person with a violent past’
The truck was discovered a few miles from where the California Highway Patrol discovered a Honda Civic that Thomson is accused of stealing from Washington state.

Thomson also was charged with murdering Lori Hamm, 36, whose body was found early last week in Cowlitz County, Wash.

The FBI plans to question Thomson in the July 7 disappearance of James Ehrgott, 73, of Spokane, Wash. Ehrgott's vehicle was found five days later in Centralia, Wash.

Authorities said Thomson has an extensive criminal record that includes three felony rape convictions. He has spent most of his life in prison and psychiatric hospitals, Penrod said.

"He's a violent person with a violent past," said sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Beavers.

The FBI said Thomson lived in nearby Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, more than a decade ago and could have had connections there.

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