March 29, 2013

Rapist captured in Gorham after 35 years: 'How did you find me?'

A flight from justice ended Wednesday for a serial rapist who hid in plain sight for decades.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Gary Irving

click image to enlarge

Gary Allen Irving, who is now in his 50s, has been on the Massachusetts Top 10 Most Wanted list for decades.

"There was nothing remarkable or unusual about him," said Leroy Dixon, who lives next to the Irvings.

While the neighbors were cordial, they weren't close friends. They didn't share tools or play cards together. The neighborhood on the outer edge of downtown Gorham, with busy Route 114 funneling heavy traffic to and from the village, isn't that kind of place, Dixon said.

But the Irvings were friendly and seemed like decent people, he said.

"They were good neighbors," Dixon said. "I would be happy to hear he's innocent, but it appears he isn't. I'm very concerned for his family."

A man and a woman who were approached at the Irvings' home Thursday declined to discuss the case and asked that reporters respect their privacy.

Irving is being held in the maximum-security unit of the Cumberland County Jail. He, too, declined to talk to a reporter.

After speaking with Irving at the jail, Leddy said his client was remarkably calm. "I think this hasn't even sunk in yet," he said.

Irving's wife, however, is in shock. "The rug just got pulled out from under their entire family," Leddy said.

He said Irving did not discuss the specifics of his crimes in Massachusetts.

ANSWERING FOR HIS CRIMES

It's not clear how Irving was able to hide in plain sight for so long, as detectives criss-crossed the country searching for him.

Over the years, he was featured on television shows such as "America's Most Wanted," "Unsolved Mysteries" and "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol." None of the publicity yielded results.

Police say he used the assumed name, a different birth date and a Social Security number that wasn't his own.

At the time he disappeared, there was no Internet to help track people and no vast databases of easily accessible personal information.

If the Massachusetts governor's warrant is in order Friday afternoon when Irving appears in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court, the only question will be whether police can prove that the man who has lived for 34 years as Gregg Irving, an unassuming father and employee in Maine, is really Gary Irving, fugitive rapist from Massachusetts.

Police say there's no question.

Gary Irving had distinctive scars on his chest and back, from heart surgery when he was a child. The man who was arrested Wednesday night has those scars. And in the jail, police took fingerprints and confirmed his identity, Burke said.

'GOOD POLICE WORK' PAYS OFF

After chasing leads in New England, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Colorado, authorities, including members of the Massachusetts Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section, developed leads recently that led them to an up-to-date photo of Irving.

They would not say what led them to Irving, but the chief investigators apparently were in Florida before hurrying north as police assembled to arrest Irving on Wednesday night.

Michael Morrissey, the district attorney in Norfolk County, Mass., called the discovery of Irving's whereabouts "good, old-fashioned police work," but he would not elaborate.

Gorham police Lt. Chris Sanborn said police had contact with Irving once over the years, in 2006, when his wife was a victim of identity theft. Somebody had misused her credit card, an account she shared with Irving.

Sanborn said the community should be glad that Irving has finally been caught.

An investigator will now start building a timeline of Irving's movements since his escape in 1979, working backward to determine when he was hired, where he lived and what he has been doing for 34 years.

"We're just starting to know who this guy is," said Grzyb, the state police lieutenant.

Irving's long-delayed sentence for the rapes could be more severe now because he fled. But his lawyer argues that in the 34 years since Irving evaded punishment for his crimes, he has demonstrated exactly what incarceration is designed to accomplish: rehabilitation.

"How many people can say they worked at the same place for 20 years and have been married for 32?" Leddy said. "It should count for something. I don't know whether it will."

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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