DEDHAM – The “normal life’’ of Gary Alan Irving formally ended today when he briefly appeared in the same Norfolk Superior courthouse where he was convicted of raping three young women 34 years ago during a spree of violence in three South Shore communities.
Irving, 52, was arrested in Gorham, Maine, last week by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section where troopers had sporadically sought to capture Irving over the past three decades without success, until a newly intensified search was launched two years ago.
State Police Detective Lieutenant Michael Farley, who was on hand when Irving made a brief appearance in Dedham today, said the nature of Irving’s crimes motivated authorities, whenever they hit a snag, to keep their hunt for Irving an active one.
As an 18-year-old, Irving was convicted of ambushing and then raping three young women in three different South Shore communities during one month in the summer of 1978, officials have said. A judge, now deceased, allowed him to remain free until sentencing — Irving never returned to the courthouse until today.
Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fishman ordered him Irving held without bail pending a status hearing in the case now set for April 12. Hand-cuffed and dressed in yellow prison garb, Irving did not speak and stared straight ahead as prosecutor Michele Armour argued for a speedy sentencing.
“The victims in this case have been waiting 34 years,’’ she said.
Irving’s lawyer during the hearing, Katherine Hatch, said arrangements are being made for Irving’s private attorney to represent him in Massachusetts.
Farley said troopers worked tirelessly to bring Irving to justice.
“Long hours on their own time, weekends, and they did a great job,’’ Farley said. “It’s because of their hard work that we’re here today.’’
Farley said that Irving said little when he was initially apprehended in Maine.
“Then on the trip back, he was asked when he stopped looking over his shoulder, and he said he never did,’’ he said. Farley declined to provide details about what led troopers to Maine but said the investigation intensified about two years ago.
Earlier today, Irving was in a Portland, Maine, courtroom where he agreed not to fight efforts by Bay State authorities to bring him back to Massachusetts.
After the hearing, his Maine attorney, Christopher Leddy, described Irving’s life in Maine where Irving married, fathered two children, and became a grandfather three years ago.
Leddy, his attorney, told reporters that when police showed up on Irving’s doorstep last week, the convicted rapist was baking a cake. The lawyer also said that during the decades he spent living in Gorham Irving had jury duty, and his only brush with the law was a speeding ticket.
“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. And Gregg Irving’s life in Maine has been relatively normal, for all intents and purposes,’’ Leddy said.
“There isn’t anybody from law enforcement here that has been able to find anything unique about him, other than the fact that you point out if in fact he is convicted in Massachusetts for these things, how you go from that to living that relatively ordinary life in Maine is very strange,’’ Leddy said.
During his decades in Maine, Leddy said, Irving married, became the father of two children and now has a three-year-old granddaughter who misses him very much. Leddy said Irving’s wife, family and friends had no idea he was a convicted rapist wanted by Massachusetts authorities.
“The person they thought of as husband and father for 30 plus years is somebody else, and a lot of people have a completely different version of, and that’s a completely surreal event. I think that’s the only word that applies for the family,’’ Leddy said.
Leddy said the person considered by Massachusetts authorities to be a serial rapist was completely different from the man who was living a quiet life in Maine.
“Those two things don’t fit,’’ Leddy said of Irving’s history and his life in Maine. “The person lived in Gorham, Maine, that most people knew, he is loved by his family, he is loved by his friends, and that’s how he lived his life in Gorham. And that’s a very hard thing for the family to reconcile, as it would be for any of us.’’
He added, “He’s lived in Gorham for quite a while, he went to work every day, he paid his taxes, he went to football games when his kids played, and other than that he lived a relatively normal life. He just didn’t stand out.’’
Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, who inherited the case, has said he would try to obtain “an appropriate sentence that would provide some modicum of finality and justice for the victims.’’ Irving faces life imprisonment with the possibiliyt of parole if given the maximum sentence, officials said.
(John R. Ellement, of the Globe Staff, contributed to this report.)