PORTLAND — After hiding for 34 years, convicted rapist Gary A. Irving will finally pay for his crimes. And one of his relatives made it happen.
According to a law enforcement official, a member of Irving’s family in Massachusetts tipped off authorities in that state after a family dispute, leading them to Irving’s home in Gorham. He was arrested there Wednesday night.
Authorities in Massachusetts and Maine would not confirm that was how they found Irving, and would not elaborate Friday on the source of their information.
Irving, 52, appeared in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court on Friday for a hearing on a fugitive-from-justice warrant seeking to return him to Massachusetts to be sentenced for three rapes in 1978, when he was 18.
The hearing was continued until Monday so Irving’s attorney could review his case in more depth. Irving will remain in Cumberland County Jail without bail.
U.S. Marshal for Maine Noel March said it’s not unusual for family members to lead police to a fugitive. He said his deputy marshals were not involved in apprehending Irving and he had no direct knowledge about the investigation.
“Keeping secrets is a two-edged sword,” March said. “Families are typically the most trusted confidants. They will help a fugitive evade capture. In some cases, their ability to avoid arrest can last for years, decades and sometimes forever.
“The other side of that coin is that it’s those same family members and confidants who hold the key for law enforcement to learn of the fugitive’s whereabouts. And when emotions change and loyalties are lost, that’s when the most trusted keeper of your secrets may well turn on you,” March said.
Over the years, Irving blended into the fabric of Gorham, a suburb of 16,000 people, raising a family there and attending school events for his children. He called himself Gregg Irving — his brother’s name, according to a childhood friend.
That life ended Wednesday, after about a dozen state troopers from Massachusetts and Maine assembled at the park-and-ride lot on Route 114 in Gorham.
Irving was watching television with his wife when Gorham police Officer Michael Brown and Maine State Police Sgt. Robert Burke knocked on his door, according to court papers. Brown told Irving that police had received a 911 call that had been disconnected, and asked him to come out of the house, onto the porch.
Burke noted that Irving matched a photo that Massachusetts police had shown him, then summoned the troopers, who identified him by a scar on his chest from heart surgery when he was a child.
Later, at the Gorham Police Department, fingerprints confirmed his identity, according to the court papers.
According to police, Irving’s initial response was to ask them, “How did you find me?”
He would not answer any questions until he spoke with a lawyer, beyond confirming that his real name is Gary A. Irving, the court papers say.
Several of Irving’s family members attended Friday’s hearing, from outside the state and from the family he built in Gorham. They would not speak to reporters.
Massachusetts State Police detectives also attended, but declined to discuss the case.
Irving, a rotund man with a long beard, appeared in court wearing the yellow uniform of a maximum-security prisoner.
He glanced briefly at the half-dozen family members seated together in the courtroom, but there was no interaction.
Irving’s lawyer, Christopher Leddy, told Justice Roland Cole that he needed more time to review the documents in Irving’s case. Cole rescheduled the hearing for 8:30 a.m. Monday.
Assistant District Attorney Anne Berlind said the fugitive-from-justice charge is not a crime in itself, and requires no plea. Irving can request a hearing if he wants to challenge the state’s evidence that he is who police say he is.
Leddy said after Friday’s hearing that the family had asked him not to comment on the case, and he asked that the media respect the family’s wish for privacy.
Irving was convicted in 1979 of raping three women in southeastern Massachusetts. His family posted $5,000 bail to ensure his appearance for trial and he appeared. After he was found guilty, and before he was to be sentenced, a judge released him on bail for a weekend.
He never returned for sentencing.
Leddy said Thursday that Irving came to Maine because he had camped here as a child and remembered the state fondly.
Doris Dickson, who knew Irving when they were teenagers in Rockland, Mass., said his disappearance created problems for his family.
The family forfeited the $5,000 bail and she believes they lost their newly purchased home on Myrtle Street to cover the loss.
Irving’s father has died, she said, but his mother and possibly two brothers are still alive.
The family moved away, she said, and Gary Irving’s crimes remain part of the history of the region.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: