DEDHAM, Mass. (AP) — Even as he eluded justice for decades, Gary Alan Irving believed the law was coming for him someday.
On Monday, a Massachusetts judge ordered the 52-year-old held without bail, 34 years after the felon fled while awaiting sentencing for three rapes.
Massachusetts state police ramped up efforts to find Irving two years ago, before arresting him Wednesday with law enforcement officials in Maine. They had learned that he was living there under an assumed name.
Detective Lt. Michael Farley said Monday that Irving told police he never stopped looking over his shoulder the entire time he was a fugitive.
Farley said members of the state police’s Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section found him by putting together little clues, sometimes on their own time and on weekends.
‘‘We wanted to do right by the victims, and we did,’’ he said.
Irving signed a waiver of extradition on a fugitive from justice charge during a brief appearance Monday in the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland, Maine.
He appeared later Monday in Norfolk Superior Court in Massachusetts, where a jury convicted him decades ago. Prosecutors said they hope to sentence him in the old case within the next three weeks. Irving returns to court April 12.
Irving faced a possible life sentence after being convicted in 1979 on three counts of rape and kidnapping. He went on the lam after a judge allowed him to return home to make final arrangements before sentencing.
Authorities arrested him after discovering he was living under the name Gregg Irving in Gorham, Maine, a town of about 16,000 people west of Portland.
His arrest came as a jolt to his wife and their grown son and daughter, who had no idea of Irving’s true identity, said attorney Chris Leddy, who represented Irving at his hearing in Maine.
‘‘That’s a surreal event, I think that’s the only word that applies to the family,’’ Leddy said. ‘‘They’re still in a state of shock.’’
Irving’s wife, two children and two family friends were in court in Portland, where he wore shackles and a yellow jail uniform. The family left without speaking to reporters.
While living in Maine, Irving went to work every day, paid taxes, went to high school football games and otherwise led a normal life with his wife and two children, Leddy said. He once received a speeding ticket and sat on jury duty for a month. He was baking a cake when police came for him.
That’s a stark contrast to the portrait of Irving as a teenager, when he was convicted in 1979 before ranking on the Massachusetts Top 10 Most Wanted list for decades.
In one incident, Irving knocked a woman off her bike and brought her to a secluded area, where he repeatedly raped her, according to Massachusetts State Police. In another incident, he forced the victim into his car as she was walking and threatened to use a knife if she didn’t comply with his demands.
His profile over the years was featured on TV’s ‘‘America’s Most Wanted,’’ ‘'Unsolved Mysteries’’ and ‘‘Real Stories of the Highway Patrol.’’
‘‘With all due respect to what happened in Massachusetts, you have to understand the story that is Maine’s has to do with a gentleman named Gregg Irving,’’ Leddy said. ‘‘And Gregg Irving’s life in Maine has been relatively normal.’’
When Irving was arrested, he was calm and at first maintained he wasn’t the man police were seeking, Maine State Police Trooper Jeremy Forbes said outside the courthouse. But he eventually admitted his true identity and asked police how they found him, Forbes said.
The judge who presided in Irving’s case in 1979 has since died. But the judge told The Patriot Ledger newspaper in 2005 he may have made a mistake letting Irving go home with his parents while considering what sentence to give him.
The newspaper also reported then that a Cohasset, Mass., police detective got a break in the case after a victim remembered a blue and white graduation tassel hanging from her attacker’s car mirror. The victim was later able to identify the suspect from a Rockland High School yearbook photo.
Police arrested Irving in 1978 before his conviction for attacks on three victims came a year later, according to authorities.
Farley said Monday that the judge may have trusted Irving to show up to his 1979 sentencing date because Irving’s father was an auxiliary police official.
The police lieutenant also said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is looking into filing federal charges related to guns that authorities found in Irving’s home.Continued...