Sara Jane Moore, 48, who pleaded guilty to trying to assassinate President Ford in 1975, was captured near the Greenbriar Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. last night, a few hours after escaping from a nearby federal prison.

Moore and a second inmate of the Federal Reformatory for Women at Alderson, W. Va., were taken into custody about 11:45 p.m., about 20 miles from the prison where they were last seen about four hours earlier.

Authorities said the two had apparently climbed a 12-foot chainlink fence and fled on foot to a state highway about a mile from the prison.

The two were apparently given a ride at least part of the way to the White Sulphur Springs area, according to West Virginia state police trooper J. W. Childers.

Moore, and the other woman, identified as Marlene Martino, were spotted by Sgt. E. W. Sullivan of the White Sulphur Springs police as they walked along U.S. Rte. 60 in 10-degree temperatures.

Moore was dressed in a blue coat, blue jeans and a white hat, according to Childers. He said the other woman wore a fur coat.

After they were picked up, he said, state police made positive identification using photographs supplied by the prison.

They were reported en route to Alderson in state police custody early today.

The Associated Press reported that Martino had been sentenced in 1974 on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder on a federal reservation.

Moore was sent in 1977 to the maximum-security part of Alderson, set in the steep foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the southeastern part of West Virginia.

She was moved out of the maximum-security unit in October and placed in one of the cottages that house the general population.

Prison authorities said the U.S. Bureau of Prisons decided to close the maximum security unit Jan. 1.

Moore was accused of pulling a gun from her purse and firing a shot at Ford on Sept. 22, 1975, as he waved to a crowd outside a hotel in San Francisco.

She was taken into custody on the spot, and pleaded guilty on Dec. 16, 1975, to attempted assassination.

A federal district judge sentenced her on Jan. 15, 1976, to life in prison.

Judge Somuel Conti asserted that Moore, a former bookkeeper and housewife with a history of mental illness, "had no remorse."

Before sentencing, Moore, who would have been eligible for parole in 1985, said she regretted the assassination attempt because it "accomplished little except to throw away the rest of my life, although I realize that there are those who think that's the one good thing resulting from this."

Moore, once an FBI informant, is a Charleston, W. Va., native. She was sent to Alderson after beginning her sentence in a California prison.

Moore was the second woman sentenced for trying to assassinate Ford. The first, Lynnette Alice (Squeaky) Fromme, a follower of convicted murderer Charles Manson, had also been housed at Alderson.

She was later transferred to a federal women's prison at Pleasanton, Calif.

Authorities at Alderson said Moore was last seen about 7 p.m. They said she was discovered missing about 9:20 p.m. during a routine check.

As many as 35 prison personnel and five state troopers were reported searching through the snowy area around the prison before the women were recapturned about 11:45 p.m.

"They were very calm," Sgt. Sullivan told the AP. "They weren't nervous at all. Just a little cold."