INTERNATIONAL FUGITIVE WANTED FOR
1979 CHICAGO MURDER ARRESTED
AFTER LANDING IN O’HARE
Saturday, June 8, 2013
— A 65-year-old man who fled the country after he was charged with killing another man 34 years ago was arrested Friday on warrants for murder and jumping bail, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.
Members of the Sheriff’s Central Warrant Unit took Ata Yousef El Ammouri into custody at approximately 5 p.m. at O’Hare International Airport after arriving from Jordan, where he resides. He was traveling to the United States to attend a graduation.
El Ammouri is accused of shooting and killing Joe Harris, 31, on the morning of July 22, 1979 after Harris walked out of El Ammouri’s store in the 500 block of 67th Street in Chicago without paying for a can of beer.
After he was charged with murder in 1979, El Ammouri posted $100,000 bail.
El Ammouri received additional charges for jumping bail in November of 1979 after he failed to show up to court hearings. Authorities at the time believed El Ammouri fled the country to avoid prosecution.
“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.”
The U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service provided significant assistance in the investigation that led to El Ammouri’s arrest—coordinating with federal and local law enforcement in a collaboration that extended across the two countries.
“This case demonstrates Diplomatic Security’s commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate these crimes and help bring these criminals to justice no matter where in the world they may be,” said Cornell Chasten, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office, Diplomatic Security Service. “Diplomatic Security’s strong relationship with other law enforcement agencies continues to be essential in the pursuit of justice.”
“Again, the partnerships with our Federal, state and local law enforcement partners were instrumental in the apprehension of this fugitive,” said Customs and Border Protection Chicago Acting Director of Field Operations William Ferrara. “CBP remains committed to bring those to justice, regardless of how long they have been out of the country.”
El Ammouri appeared in bond court this morning and was issued no bond. His next scheduled court date is June 10, 2013 at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building.
Sheriff Dart reminds the public that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the government in a court of law.