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

"I extended him a privilege, and he ran out on it," Prince said. "That was just one of the things a young judge does. I may have made a mistake in doing it, but judges make mistakes."

Prince died in 2010.

In the same 2005 story, Irving's lawyer, Killion, said he planned to appeal his client's conviction and said he liked his chances on appeal.

Killion also said he sensed after the conviction that Irving was terrified of going to prison.

Still, Irving never gave any hints that he planned to flee.

• • • • •

For the first few years, police kept a close eye on Irving's parents' home. They checked in regularly with other relatives, both in the United States and Canada, but the scrutiny waned.

"We couldn't have surveillance on the family 24 hours a day," said Noonan, the former Cohasset police chief.

The Irvings soon moved out of their home in Rockland and settled in Brockton, a gritty and densely populated city nearby.

John Albert, the childhood friend of Irving's brother, said the arrest and conviction were hard on the family but they did their best to move on.

"Even after all this happened, they were so nice, always smiling," said Albert, who lived with the Irvings for a time after the rape conviction. "They were like parents to me. I feel so bad for what they went through."

Carl and Margaret Irving didn't have time to dwell on their oldest son and his whereabouts. In 1978, the same year of the rapes, the Irvings had another son who was diagnosed with Down syndrome and needed extra care.

"After a while, it was almost like Gary never existed," Albert said.

Irving likely would have had some money saved from his part-time job, but no car and no place to live that anyone knew about.

Noonan didn't work the case initially, but it became his "white whale" over the years. In 1993, when he was named chief, he kept Irving's file and picture in his office as a reminder.

"His disappearance always dogged me a bit," he said. "I wanted to see some conclusion for those victims. Nothing ever panned out, though."

Noonan said police in the late 1970s and early '80s believed Irving had a connection to Maine. He used to camp there with his family as a child. He said that information was shared with local police in Maine but nothing came of it.

• • • • •

Three years after Gary Irving disappeared from Massachusetts, a man named Greg Irving surfaced in Maine.

He was just 22 years old when he married a woman named Bonnie Messenger, who grew up in Gorham. A few years later, the couple started a family. They had a son, Bryan, and daughter, Jessica.

By all accounts, Irving eased into a normal, quiet life. He registered to vote in 1984. He was called for jury duty. He got a job at a local bank and then at National Telephone & Technology in Scarborough, where he installed phone lines and systems for businesses in southern Maine.

A co-worker at the communications company who asked not to be identified said Irving was quiet but hardworking. He didn't socialize much outside of work. He didn't drink. The co-worker said Irving had a camp somewhere in Maine that he used to fish and hunt and that a small group of friends sometimes went with him.

Julie Zimont, who worked with Irving at the former Maine Savings Bank for about five years until the bank closed in 1991, said he was widely liked by co-workers.

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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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