They made a brief television appearance, and the next day they were behind bars.
A viewer of the “Washington’s Most Wanted” TV program — who also happened to be a Lakewood police detective with a tradition of watching the show with his daughter — spotted Joseph Williams and Eileen Dilbeck at a Tacoma gas station less than a day after they were featured on air.
“I have crazy good luck like that,” detective Ryan Larson said. “I’m thinking I should start playing the lottery.”
Larson watched the show Feb. 15 and heard how Williams was being sought after escaping from community custody while serving time for vehicular homicide, second-degree assault and failure to remain at the scene of an accident.
The show also mentioned Williams’ girlfriend, Dilbeck, who was accused of interfering with a child-custody case in Wisconsin. She allegedly gave custody of her son to her grandfather and then took him without permission.
The next day, Larson was driving to a friend’s house when he pulled off the freeway and stopped to fill up at a gas station on South Hosmer Street.
There, walking out of the parking lot and across the street to a motel, were Williams and Dilbeck. Larson said he recognized them because of Williams’ bushy eyebrows.
Larson sat in his car and watched for a moment before calling the on-duty sergeant and asking him to send photos of the pair. He couldn’t remember their names, but he knew he’d recognize their faces.
Once he saw them, he knew.
Larson directed officers to their motel room and they were arrested. Then he called his daughter, who he said “thought it was the coolest thing.”