Christopher Boyce, a convicted Soviet spy who has been the object of a worldwide manhunt since his escape from prison 19 months ago, was being held under tight security in Seattle yesterday after being recaptured in a secluded fishing village on the northwest coast of Washington state.
The 28-year old son of a former FBI agent offered no resistance when an undercover team of U.S. marshals arrested him Friday night outside a fast-food restaurant in Port Angeles, on the Olympic Peninsula.
Officials of the Marshals Service said they had tracked Boyce to the area in recent weeks with the help of tipsters, his undisguised picture on a phony driver's license and his interests -- jogging, falconry and Vitamin E.
They said he had bought a fishing boat and was taking flying lessons, leading investigators to believe he may have been raising money through criminal activity.
U.S. Deputy Marshal Jack Tait said yesterday that Boyce will appear before a U.S. magistrate tomorrow and be returned to California where he had escaped from prison.
Boyce was convicted in 1977 of selling highly classified documents about a Central Intelligence Agency satellite system to the Soviet Union for $70,000, with the help of a boyhood friend from southern California. Officials said there was no sign he had been in touch with the Soviets or any other government since his escape.
Boyce had gained access to classified documents while working as a $140-a-week clerk in a secret communications vault operated for the CIA by the TRW Inc. Starting in 1975, his friend, Andrew Daulton Lee, delivered photos of documents from the code room to the Soviet embassy in Mexico City.
Lee was arrested by a Mexico City policeman for littering after he threw a message inside the embassy fence. Microfilm marked top secret was found in his pocket, and he soon confessed and implicated Boyce.
Lee, who was a drug trafficker, received a life sentence after their conviction. Boyce was sentenced to 40 years in prison. He escaped from the federal prison in Lompoc, Calif., in January 1980, by using a makeshift ladder to scale its fences.
Howard Safir, the marshals' assistant director for operations, told reporters in Washington yesterday that the wide-ranging search for Boyce focused on the Pacific Northwest because of his interest in the outdoors and falcons. As a youth, he raised the hunting birds, which became the focal point of a New York Times reporter's book on the trial, The Falcon and the Snowman.
John J. Twomey, deputy director of the service, said his marshals were "prime readers" of the book in an effort to learn Boyce's habits. "The amazing thing about this guy is that he could survive with very few resources," he said. "It made the case an intriguing one and a long one."
The search for Boyce included checking out more than 100 reported sightings in several countries, from South Africa to Costa Rica to France, Twomey said.
Safir noted that marshals checked out health-food stores near reported sightings for purchases of Vitamin E, which Boyce used in prison. They also visited stores that sold the Etonic jogging shoes their quarry ordered while in Lompoc.
Marshals also raided a couple of unsuspecting homeowners after receiving false tips that Boyce was hiding there, Twomey said. Last October, for instance, a couple near San Diego complained that machinegun-wielding marshals broke into their house at dawn after receiving an anonymous, and erroneous, tip that they were shielding the escapee.
The Boyce manhunt began to center on the northwest United States about eight months ago, Twomey said, and on the Port Angeles area, about 60 miles northwest of Seattle, in the past few weeks.
Teams of deputy marshals and FBI agents then began infiltrating the area, posing as fishermen, loggers and waitresses, and looking for the man who used a Washington state driver's license with the name "Anthony Edward Lester," the officials said.
The undercover teams soon began round-the-clock surveillance of a house, bar and the Pit Stop drive-in restaurant, Friday night, about 8:45 PDT, Boyce pulled into the restaurant in an old Oldsmobile and went inside to order a hamburger and onion rings. He was clad in jogging shorts and a sweatshirt.
When the federal agents positively identified Boyce, he was seized. Officials said his escape could add five years to his 40-year sentence.
During his espionage trial, the government restricted its evidence to documents about an outdated CIA communications satellite known as Pyramider. Federal authorities said at the time, however, that he had passed other information to the Soviets that was "so extremely sensitive" it could not be declassified for use at the trial.
When he testified in his defense, Boyce claimed that he gave the Soviets only outdated information. He also claimed that he was disillusioned with the American government.