A fugitive who spent more than 48 years on the lam was arrested in Sherman, CT on Monday.
Federal officials said 71-year-old Robert E. Stackowitz escaped from an infirmary at the Carroll County Prison Work Camp in Carrolton, GA in 1968.
He was serving a 17 year sentence for a forced robbery at the time.
Members of the Georgia Department of Corrections assigned to the U.S. Marshals Service Southeast Regional Task Force discovered a possible alias for Stackowitz, which led them to an address in Connecticut.
Marshals in Connecticut acted on the information. They located Stackowitz and were able to arrest him without incident in Sherman.
They said he'd been living at a home on Route 39. He bought it back in 1995 and had been living a quiet life.
Just a couple of slip ups, one being applying for social security, and now he is back behind bars.
"If there's a wanted fugitive, we're going to continue to work it until we find him," said Tony Schilling, supervisory inspector for the Marshals Service's Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force.
"I can't believe," said Mark Heinonen, a friend. "He never seemed like any criminal type at all."
Heinonen told Eyewitness News that he was overwhelmed by the news. He said he'd known Stackowitz for years and described him as a gentle man.
He ran a boat repair business out of his home.
"He used to fixed boats locally, and he was just a nice guy," Heinonen, said. "Everyone liked him. He was a big, jolly, old guy."
But some people also remembered Stackowitz as an educator.
Brian Adams, of Thomaston, told Eyewitness News exclusively that Stackowitz was one of his favorite educators at Danbury Technical School where he was a substitute automotive teacher.
"He was a great guy. He'd help you, he'd make you work for it," Adams said, adding that he was stunned to learn that Stackowitz was behind bars.
"A total surprise. There's no way I would have thought this guy would have done something like that," Adams said.
Investigators said he'd been living under the name Robert Gorden. They tracked him down after the name popped up in a database.
"We never talked about his past," Heinonen said. "I knew him basically through the lake. He was very affiliated with Candlewood Lake, fixing people's boats and stuff like that."
Heinonen said he doesn't know if he'll ever see Stackowitz again, but he will always be grateful that they met.
Stackowitz is currently being held in a Bridgeport jail facility and is awaiting extradition to Georgia. He was charged with being a fugitive from justice.
He has been scheduled to face a judge in Connecticut next month.
The SERFTF said it has aided in the apprehension of more than 20,000 violent fugitives in Georgia alone since it was created in 2003.
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