Convicted rapist Gary Alan Irving is captured in Gorham, Maine, after he fled 34 years ago from Rockland, Mass. (Evan Allen/Globe Correspondent)
GORHAM, Maine — A convicted rapist from Rockland who fled Massachusetts in 1979 and has spent the last 34 years on the Massachusetts State Police Most Wanted list was captured last night in Gorham, Maine, where he had started a new life under a fake name with a wife, two children, and a granddaughter.
Massachusetts State Police arrested Gary Alan Irving, 52, who raped three young women in the summer of 1978, in his South Street home at around 9:15 p.m., said spokesman David Procopio. Police found two shotguns, six rifles, and a handgun in Irving’s home, said Procopio, and he will face federal gun charges for possessing them.
Irving had been living as “Gregg Irving,’’ said Procopio, and had worked for about 20 years at a local phone company. His wife said she had no knowledge of his true identity, said Procopio.
When police showed up at his door, said Procopio, Irving insisted they had the wrong man — but the scar on his chest from a childhood surgery gave him away.
Maine police officials said at a press conference today that when they knocked on Irving’s door on Wednesday night, he and his wife were trying to put their granddaughter to bed.
Irving asked officers how they had found him, said Maine State Police Sergeant Robert Burke; officers did not answer.
Police are now looking through open rape cases in Gorham and the state of Maine, said Gorham police Lieutenant Christopher Sanborn, to see if there are any that are similar to Irving’s attacks. Figuring out whether Irving assaulted anyone in Maine, said Sanborn, is one of the top priorities for officers.
Louis Sabadini, the former Norfolk County prosecutor, in a telephone interview today described Irving as someone who would ambush teenaged girls or young woman when he chanced upon them while driving his car. Once he saw a woman he wanted to sexually assault, Sabadini said Irving would drive ahead on the road the woman was walking on, park his car, and then lurk in the bushes until the woman came nearby.
Irving was facing a long prison sentence after his conviction in June 1979, said Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey. The judge gave him a few days to get his affairs in order before his June 29 sentencing, and he fled.
Irving had a Maine state license, said Sanborn. He had never had any contact with Gorham police, except for one incident in 2006 when someone stole his wife’s credit card which was attached to a joint account.
Irving has been living at 151 South St. since at least 2002, said Sanborn, but it could have been in Gorham since the early 1980s.
One neighbor said that Irving had been living in the home for roughly 30 years.
No one answered the door at the Irving home, a sky blue two-story house on a busy street just a quarter-mile from Gorham downtown. A swingset play equipment and an RV camper sat in the backyard.
Neighbors described the Irvings as a normal family. Alyssa Lurvey, 18, who lives next door, said that the Irvings brought her family cookies when they moved in four years ago. A neighbor across the street who asked not to be identified said that Gary Irving had once plowed her driveway.
“It’s crazy,’’ said Lurvey. “You never know somebody… That’s really scary.’’
Irving will be arraigned in Portland, Maine, on Friday afternoon as a fugitive from justice, said Procopio, and rendition proceedings will begin to bring him back to Massachusetts.
Procopio declined to comment on what broke the case, saying State Police do not discuss tactics.
“These fugitive investigators on the Massachusetts State Police have never ceased their efforts to find him,’’ said Procopio. “We know the tenacity of these guys. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody that they’ll find you, eventually.’’
State Police, with help from Cohasset police and other local agencies, searched doggedly for Irving, said Morrissey, following leads in New England, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Colorado.
“At the end of the day, good old-fashioned police work solved the problem,’’ said Morrissey.
Morrissey said he remembered something another trooper once said to a suspect caught after fleeing.
“‘We’re the Massachusetts State Police, and we always get our man.’ I think that’s the simple answer.’’