April 28, 2013

A Maine man's life torn in two

Nearly 34 years ago, convicted serial rapist Gary Alan Irving ran from justice and pursued a seemingly ordinary existence in Maine. But did he – could he – escape the shadows of the crimes he left behind?

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Gary Alan Irving, top left, is seen shortly after his arrest in September 1978 on suspicion that he raped three teenage girls at knifepoint in Massachusetts. He lived with his parents and siblings at this home on Myrtle Street in Rockland, Mass., left, at the time. The 52-year-old Irving, top right, was arrested as a fugitive from justice late last month. Irving, who lived at this South Street home in Gorham, right, had gotten married and raised two children, eluding authorities for almost 34 years.

Left photo by Eric Russell/Staff Writer; top left, courtesy Cohasset Police Department; right photo by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer; top right, police photo

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Additional Photos Below

Although Gregory was closer to her age, Dickson quickly became friends with Gary instead.

They had similar interests. She liked his sandy-colored mop of hair and his slightly pudgy baby face. They never had a romantic relationship, but Dickson said she was flattered that this older boy paid attention to her. He was figuratively and literally the boy next door.

Irving was an accomplished trombone player in the school band and won the school's Purdue All American music award as a senior. He also was in chorus and performed in high school musicals. He did well academically and told classmates he planned to attend Boston College after he graduated.

If they remember him at all, classmates recall Irving as quiet and unassuming. Not a loner, exactly, but not Mr. Popular either.

"I remember him as this socially awkward kid," said classmate Steve Waisgerber, Rockland High's class president in 1978. "He was like a million others."

• • • • •

Things changed for Gary in 1978, although it's still a mystery what prompted those changes.

Dickson said her friend shifted from happy-go-lucky to cold and angry.

Waisgerber, who knew Irving well but didn't socialize with him outside of school, said he doesn't remember Irving's mood changing, but he does remember a change that senior year.

"He looked a lot different. Edgier maybe. But part of that might be that he just grew up," Waisgerber said. "He looked more like a man."

During his senior year, Irving worked part-time at Hi Lo, a local grocery store, and often went cruising in his parents' green Pontiac. The car was a source of controversy, Dickson said.

One day in the spring of 1978, Irving drove it through the family's garage in a fit of rage. Around the same time, Dickson heard from Irving's brother that Gary went after his mother with a knife inside their home.

She asked her friend about it. He didn't deny it, but he didn't want to discuss it, either.

Dickson said she became afraid after that. She told him she didn't want to see him anymore. When she saw him on the street, she crossed to the other side to avoid him.

She didn't see or hear about him again until the summer had come and gone.

One day in September 1978, though, her mother sat her down with a copy of the local newspaper. On the front page was Irving's picture under a headline that contained the word "rape."

Dickson's mother asked her if she knew what the word meant.

• • • • •

The first attack was reported to police on July 1, 1978 in Weymouth, a town just to the north of Rockland. An 18-year-old girl was walking home from a friend's home just before midnight.

The girl passed a green Pontiac parked on the side of the road. When she did, a man jumped out and forced her into the car at knifepoint.

They drove a short distance to a secluded area, where the man sexually assaulted her.

He later dropped her off near her home and left.

Less than two weeks later, in Cohasset, another neighboring town that borders Massachusetts Bay, a young man attacked a 16-year-old girl in similar fashion.

She was riding her bike home trying to make an 11 p.m. curfew when a man driving a green Pontiac knocked her off her bike, forced her into his car with a knife and then raped her repeatedly.

Before the month of July was over, the rapist struck again, this time in the town of Holbrook, just west of Rockland.

(Continued on page 3)

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Additional Photos

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Friends and former classmates say it remains a mystery what turned “this socially awkward kid,” seen in a 1978 yearbook photo, into one of law enforcement’s most wanted.

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Gary Irving, who in 1979 was convicted of raping three teenage girls in Massachusetts, leaves the Cumberland County Courthouse on April 1.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

 


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