Power Went from FBI’s Most Wanted List to Jamaica Plain Real Estate Agent

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In a 10-year window of time, Katherine Power went from being on the lam using an alias in Oregon, to turning herself in, serving prison time, and then began selling real estate in Jamaica Plain resident.

Katherine Power

Power was a Vietnam War protestor and was involved with a botched bank robbery that ended in the death of a Boston Police officer. That led to her being on the FBI's Most Wanted List for 23 years.

She now lives in Concord, and works at a real estate office on Centre Street. She recently spoke a the Loring Greenough House about her new book Surrender: My Journey from Guerrilla to Grandmother.

Power answered questions from Jamaica Plain about her career, her criminal history, and her new book.

Q: Why did you want to write your book?

Power: This is a story with many lessons, important for our times. Also, it is a gripping story, and writers love to tell gripping stories.

Q: What message would you like a reader to feel after reading your book?

Power: So much of life is to just keep going, but also to reflect on where you are and where you have been. Even though my early efforts at social change turned out disastrously, I never gave up on social change. I just kept learning from wise teachers. I learned how peace in the moment is connected to peace in the world. Have courage, and if you do the inner work, you will end up with an authentic life.

Q: You went from being on the FBI's Most Wanted List to being a grandmother. How do you explain your criminal history to your grandchildren?

Power: That's a tricky thing. First, sharing what is age appropriate. But also, having the courage to show my whole self, including my mistakes, to them makes me a better guide for their own lives.

Q: How long have you been a real estate agent in Jamaica Plain? Do clients ever know about your history?

Power: I started selling real estate in Jamaica Plain in 2002. Sometimes people know the back story ahead of time. Sometimes sharing the story is a natural evolution in our relationship. Sometimes it doesn't come up, and it doesn't need to.

Q: How has the Jamaica Plain real estate market changed since you began working in real estate?

Power: Jamaica Plain housing prices, like prices all over the Greater Boston area, have increased greatly over the time that I have been selling real estate here. Quite a bit of new housing has been built. There is never enough low and moderate income housing.

Q: What was it like being a fugitive for 23 years?

Power: The first five years were chaotic and tumultuous with lots of close calls and near misses. After moving to Oregon, with a stable alias, in some ways it was just a matter of showing up in daily life--a job, a family, with the constraints that are pretty typical of a working class life. There was always a background fear of FBI agents showing up at the door.

Q: During your time as a fugitive, you taught cooking classes at a community college, and became an owner of a restaurant and bakery. Why do you think you were able to slip into a normal life and avoid capture?

Power: Largely because I am white and can present as middle class.

Q: What are your favorite local restaurants?

Power: So many choices--Purple Cactus for a quick work lunch. Vee Vee for a night out. Tres Gatos, Tonino, Brassica, Noodle Barn. Sorry to see El Oriental close.

Q: Why did you choose your aliases Mae Kelly and Alice Louise Metzinger?

Power: Mae Kelly was after a childhood friend Sheila Maureen Kelly. Alice Louise Metzinger was on an available birth certificate.

Q: Why did you decide to turn yourself in?

Power: To get the whole picture, you would have to read the book. The short answer is that I was horribly depressed. I had come to the end of the fugitive adaptation to my life circumstances and had to make a radical change. My son was coming into his teenage years, and I had no authority as a parent if I was lying about my own life.