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Suspect in N.Y. abortion provider killing arrested

FBI poster indicates on Thursday that James Kopp has been located  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A fugitive on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list, indicted in the killing of a doctor who performed abortions in western New York, was captured Thursday in western France, the FBI said.

James Kopp, 46, was arrested in Rennes district in Brittany, France, said a spokesman for the Central Directorate Judicial Police.

Neither the FBI nor French officials gave further details.

Read the federal complaint against Malvasi and Marra (FindLaw) (PDF)
Read the federal indictment against Kopp (FindLaw) (PDF)
Read the state indictment (People v. Kopp) (FindLaw) (PDF)
Read the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (18 U.S.C. 248) (FindLaw)
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Attacks on abortion providers

The remaining nine on the FBI's most wanted list

Federal Access to Clinic Entrances act (from Cornell)

Meanwhile in New York, the FBI arrested a married couple -- Dennis Malvasi and Loretta Marra -- who authorities said had harbored Kopp shortly after Slepian was killed. The couple was scheduled for arraignment Thursday evening, the FBI said.

"We have identified certain subjects in the United States and we are moving against them now," FBI Director Louis Freeh had said during a news conference earlier Thursday."

Freeh also said the formal extradition process has begun to bring Kopp to the United States.

Initial reaction to Kopp's capture was upbeat.

"If indeed James Kopp is the person who killed Dr. Slepian, we're excited, we're thrilled," the Rev. David Selzer of the Buffalo, New York chapter of Planned Parenthood told CNN. "The people in Buffalo are greatly relieved that one less terrorist is on the streets killing physicians. "

Seltzer said he was a friend of Slepian and said news of Kopp's capture was bittersweet.

"There's also a sadness on this day and a reliving of the event; the recognition that (his wife) no longer has a husband and that her four boys are without a father at a time when they really could use him most," he said.

National Planned Parenthood leaders looked ahead to the next step in the judicial process.

Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998  

"We hope, we have all confidence that he will soon be brought to justice," Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood said at a Dallas, Texas, news conference.

"I want to applaud all of the law enforcement people who worked so hard on this case, this was not an easy one to deal with," Feldt added.

"My first (reaction) was relief, and I guess the second was vindication for all those who said we'd never get him," Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark told The Associated Press. "I never for a moment thought that he would not be captured. To me, it was a question of when."

Kopp was also wanted under a federal warrant for allegedly violating the Federal Access to Clinic Entrances Act for use of deadly force against an abortion provider. That charge carries a penalty of up to life in prison, as well as a maximum $250,000 fine.

Kopp faces life in prison

The grand jury returned indictments against Kopp on three charges -- murder in the second degree, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon.

The maximum penalty on the murder charge is life in prison and the other two charges carry a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.

Slepian was killed at his home in East Amherst, felled by a single bullet fired from the woods behind his house and into a kitchen window.

Officials had been seeking Kopp, a radical abortion protester, since the killing. His 1987 black Chevrolet Cavalier had been spotted in Slepian's neighborhood in the weeks before the 52-year-old obstetrician-gynecologist was slain.

Two months after the killing, a police officer found Kopp's car at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, where one investigator said it had been parked for an "unusually long time."

Authorities found a scope-equipped rifle buried in the woods behind Slepian's home, but did not reveal how it was linked to Kopp. Kopp was linked to the crime scene by DNA testing of a hair found near the spot where Slepian's killer fired, law enforcement officials have said.

Kopp, of St. Albans, Vermont, had been arrested several times since 1990 -- in several states -- on a variety of charges stemming from abortion protests.

CNN's Kelli Arena contributed to this report.

Appeals court says threats against abortion doctors protected
March 28, 2001
Hair evidence provides clues in abortion-doctor killing
January 22, 1999
Car found in abortion-provider killing
December 23, 1998

Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • The FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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