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FBI's top fugitive dies in hospital

RICHMOND, Va. -- Accused killer Leo Koury, dean of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List and once the subject of a billboard advertising campaign by the federal agents who sought him, has died in a San Diego hospital, officials announced.

Charged with two murders and a variety of other crimes, Koury had been on the FBI's list of top fugitives since 1979 -- longer than anyone.

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The FBI announced his death late Friday after confirming Koury's identity through fingerprint records.

Koury, using the alias William F. Biddle, admitted himself to Villa View Community Hospital in San Diego last Sunday because of failing health. He died early the next day of a brain hemorrhage brought on by high blood pressure, according to the FBI. Koury, a diabetic, was 56.

An anonymous caller told an acquaintance of Koury's about his death, and the acquaintance notified authorities.

The FBI has not determined what Koury was doing in San Diego or how long he had been there. 'It's going to take a while to unravel this stuff,' said Special Agent Wilber Garrett Jr.

Agents were somewhat disappointed their hunt for Koury ended with his death. 'We would have much rather have found him alive,' said Garrett. 'But at least we closed our fugitive investigation.'

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Koury was a restaurateur, and many of the charges against him resulted from his alleged attempts in the 1970s to control gay bars in Richmond.

Originally from Pittsburgh, he was reared in Richmond and broke into the restaurant business in the 1950s. In the 1960s, he opened some of the area's first restaurants that openly catered to homosexuals.

When competing clubs opened, authorities charged, Koury retaliated violently. He allegedly killed a bouncer at one bar and sent a thug to blast another with a shotgun, killing one person and wounding two others.

Koury also was charged with mail fraud, loan sharking and planning the kidnap-for-ransom of former pharmaceutical magnate E. Claiborne Robins Jr.

Koury was indicted in 1978 but disappeared before he could be arrested. He was once sighted in Brazil, and two national television shows, 'America's Most Wanted' and 'Unsolved Mysteries,' did segments on Koury.

The FBI also once plastered his photograph on billboards in their attempt to track him down.

Before vanishing, Koury lived with his wife. The couple had four children. She moved from Richmond last year, according to a neighbor.

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