Back in 1968, Lyndon Johnson was president, the Beatles sang “Back in the USSR,” Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated, and Robert E. Stackowitz was 23-years-old and facing 17 years in prison.
After spending only a few months behind bars, Robert escaped and spent five decades as a fugitive. He ended up settling 990 miles away from the prison he broke out of in Georgia, bought a house, and paid his taxes.
That was until Monday, when the U.S. Marshals Service captured the escapee in Connecticut, the Danbury News Times reported.
He’s now 71, back in jail, and his ultimate fate is currently undetermined.
A much younger Stackowitz escaped from the infirmary at the Carroll County Prison Work Camp in Carrolton, Georgia, on August 22, 1968. He was there serving a 17-year prison sentence for robbery by force; he was convicted of the charge the previous April, the Hartford Courant added.
It’s not clear exactly where he went after that or what he did. By the time the authorities captured him on Monday, he was working as a boat repairman and was well liked by his neighbors.
In 1990, Robert bought a house in the one-traffic-light town of Sherman, Connecticut. For 26 of the 48 years Stackowitz has been on the lam, he’s lived in the house on Route 39 alone. He’s up to date on his property and motor vehicle taxes.
Although the U.S. Marshals did eventually sniff the convict out, Sherman was the perfect place to avoid being captured. The town is described by the News Times as “out-of-the-way” and “often overlooked.” It’s home to about 3,700 people — the least populated town in the county — and has no chain stores, only two restaurants, a grocery store, and a day care center. The only place to find entertainment is the Sherman Playhouse.
Five months ago, the Georgia Department of Corrections opened their cold case on the escapee and launched a “comprehensive investigation” to find the now-elderly felon. Eventually, the Marshals tracked him down in Sherman.
Stackowitz had applied for Social Security, and through that process, officials learned that he escaped from prison. Federal authorities described how they finally tracked and captured the convict.
“The investigation for Stackowitz gained momentum when Georgia Department of Corrections investigators assigned to the U.S. Marshals Service Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force conducted a comprehensive investigation into the fugitive case and uncovered a possible alias identity for the fugitive. 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.”
He was captured at his home by both local troopers and federal agents.
He had a few name variations: Bob Gordon, Robert Gordon, and Robert Gordon-Stackowitz. But his address listed him just as Robert Stackowitz. Now, he’s in the custody of Bridgeport Correctional Center in Connecticut and awaiting extradition to Georgia, CNN added.
He was initially held on $100,000 bond, which was reduced to $75,000, and appeared in Danbury Superior Court on Monday. He’ll next appear in court on June 6.
The authorities offered few details about what Robert’s been up to for the past five decades or how he ended up captured far away in Connecticut. According to local news station WFSB, a close friend was shocked to find out a man he’d been friends with for years was a fugitive.
Mark Heinonen described his friend as a gentle man.
“He used to fixed boats locally, and he was just a nice guy. Everyone liked him. He was a big, jolly, old guy.”
[Image via komkrit Preechachanwate/Shutterstock]