Homeless Man $100,000 Richer after Seeing Escaped Convicts While on Way to McDonald's

Combined Shape

People often wonder what they would do if they had the opportunity to apprehend a criminal or witness a crime.

Would you be able to act in time? Would you be quick on your feet, or be able to speak up and alert the proper authorities?

One homeless man in San Francisco, California, no longer has to wonder about what he would do. He lived it.

While hanging out at the local McDonald’s, Matthew Hay-Chapman noticed something a little out of the ordinary. He’d stopped by to get some coffee, part of his normal routine.

A van was parked nearby, and it flagged for Hay-Chapman. It reminded him of a time when he’d once lived in such a setup, but it also triggered a more recent memory.

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“I noticed people were sleeping in there cause windows were all steamed up cause of heavy, heavy condensation,” Hay-Chapman said.

“I thought to myself, there’s two people in that van cause I used to live in a GMC van many years ago when I had a job. Then I looked at the plates. No plates.”

Hay-Chapman was homeless, but he wasn’t oblivious. He’d learned to live on the streets, but he kept up with the world by reading discarded papers.

The van matched one he’d seen in a newspaper recently, after three inmates had escaped from an Orange County, California, prison. The newspaper had also printed photos of the men on the lam.

When someone got out of the van, the homeless man recognized him, too. His suspicions were confirmed: these were the wanted men.

A cop was nearby, and Hay-Chapman desperately tried to get his attention.

“I’m like this flagging him down, like right there, you know?” said Hay-Chapman. “And I point and he sees me. He’s across the street, directly across the street.

“And I’m going (gestures) cause I’m right behind holding my cane like this. Body language, boom! That’s the guy!”

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The fugitive soon realized his freedom was being threatened, and he took off. The cop raced after him and was soon joined by another — but in an ironic turn of events, the runaway inmate ran right to the police station.

Hay-Chapman also pointed police in the direction of the stolen van, where they apprehended another criminal.

Hay-Chapman was eventually awarded a “finder’s fee” of $100,000 for helping to track down these inmates. He was excited at the prospect of receiving the cash (who wouldn’t be?).

The helpful citizen planned to use the cash to get himself back up on his feet as well as help out some family members who were struggling at the time.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking