A fugitive who escaped from a Georgia jail several decades ago is in custody in Connecticut after living in a small town there for 48 years.
Robert Stackowitz, who was known in the town of Sherman as Bob Gordon, was arrested Monday morning, the Georgia Department of Corrections says. Authorities in Georgia were taking another look at old fugitive files and found Stackowitz.
Stackowitz, now 71, had been in prison for robbery by force, Georgia authorities said. He escaped in 1968, the Department of Corrections says.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Escaped From the Infirmary of a Prison Work Camp Just 2 Years Into His 17-Year Sentence
Robert Stackowitz was convicted of robbery by force in 1966 and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. He was just two years into that sentence when he escaped, the Georgia Department of Corrections says.
He escaped from the infirmary of the Carroll County Prison Work Camp in Carrollton, Georgia, the U.S. Marshals Service said in a press release.
Authorities did not detail how Stackowitz ended up in Connecticut.
2. He Was Arrested by Connecticut State Troopers & U.S. Marshals Who Said He Seemed ‘a Little Speechless’ When They Showed Up
Stackowitz was arrested without incident by Connecticut State Police and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, according to a press release.
Police said he was cooperative.
“He was a little speechless,” Trooper Michael Saraceno told the Danbury News-Times. “I think it’s been so long that I think he reached a point in his head where he thought they would never find him.”
Police told NBC Connecticut that Stackowitz was unemotional and was just sitting in his kitchen when they showed up at about 8 a.m. Monday.
3. He Ran a Boat Repair Business & Lived Alone in the Small Connecticut Town
Stackowitz was known as Bob Gordon in the small Connecticut town of Sherman, which is located near the New York border and is home to about 3,600 residents.
He was living alone in a home along Route 39 in Sherman, which is almost 1,000 miles from the Georgia prison camp authorities say he escaped from. He ran a boat repair business out of his home, according to WFSB-TV.
“I can’t believe it,” friend Mark Heinonen told the news station. “He never seemed like any criminal type at all. He used to fixed boats locally, and he was just a nice guy. Everyone liked him. He was a big, jolly, old guy.”
The town’s first selectman, Clay Cope, told the Associated Press he sometimes saw the man he knew as Bob Gordon in the grocery store and once even paid for his groceries when he forgot his wallet.
“People just knew that he was a motorboat repairman,” said Cope told the AP. “This was a very quiet man living in a very quiet town carrying a big secret.”
4. He Recently Applied for Social Security Using His Real Name, Which Helped Authorities Find Him
Stackowitz was tracked down after investigators with the U.S. Marshals Service Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force (SERFTF) began looking into cold fugitive cases in Georgia.
“A comprehensive investigation into the fugitive case and uncovered a possible alias identity for the fugitive,” the U.S. Marshals Service said in a press release. “Investigators then discovered an address in Sherman, Connecticut, which was linked to the alias. U.S. Marshals in the District of Connecticut acted upon this information and were able to locate and arrest Stackowitz without incident.”
Stackowitz recently applied for Social Security benefits using his legal name, the Associated Press reports.
Tony Schilling, the supervisory inspector for the U.S. Marshals task force, told the Associated Press that they obtained a driver’s license photo of the man they suspected of being Stackowitz, and it matched his mugshot from the 1960s.
“If we have an active warrant we don’t give up on it,” Schilling told the AP. “We’re not going to stop looking for someone. I think the longer that these fugitives are (free), they’re hoping we’re not going to look for them.”
The investigation began five months ago.
5. He Is Being Held on $75,000 Bail in Connecticut Until His Extradition to Georgia
Stackowitz appeared in court in Danbury, Connecticut, for his arraignment and was held on $75,000 bail, according to online records. He is in custody at the Bridgeport Correctional Center.
He was charged with conspiracy to commit fugitive from justice, and was initially held on $100,000 bail, according to a press release from the Connecticut State Police.
He is facing extradition back to Georgia. Stackowitz is set to appear before a judge again on June 6 in Danbury, court records show. He does not yet have an attorney.