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Murderer of Harvard Medical Student Returns After Escape

By Joseph F Kahn, With Wire Dispatches

A man convicted of fatally stabbing a Harvard football player in Boston's red-light district 11 years ago has surrendered to authorities, six weeks after failing to return from a work-release job.

Leon Easterling, 50, convicted of manslaughter in the 1976 death of Andrew P. Puopolo Jr., turned himself in Saturday at the Boston Pre-Release Center.

His decision came after he read a story about his escape the day before in The Boston Globe, according to a Correction Department spokeswoman and Easterling's nephew.

Easterling, serving an 18- to 20-year sentence, surprised prison officials by failing to return from his work-release job on October 17 because he had just 17 months to serve before he would have become eligible for parole.

Family members said they were concerned he might have been killed.

Easterling originally had been found guilty of murder along with two other men. At a second trial, however, he was found guilty of manslaughter and the two others were acquitted of charges related to Puopolo's death.

Puopolo, 21, an aspiring medical student, died a month after being stabbed repeatedly in the chest on the morning of November 16, 1976.

Easterling's nephew, Darryll Rogers, said the family was relieved to hear of Easterling's surrender but angry about the escape.

Correction Department spokeswoman Mary McGowan said Easterling faces a trial on escape charges as well as disciplinary action within the prison system.

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