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

(Continued from page 4)

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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

"He was so normal. We used to say he was one of the good guys," she said. "I guess he fooled everybody."

Irving and his family lived on South Street in Gorham, a main drag not far from the center of town and the University of Southern Maine campus.

The two-story home belonged to Messenger's parents but Bonnie later purchased it alone in 2002, according to town records. Irving's name is not on the deed.

Before March 27, police visited the Irvings in Gorham only once over the years. In 2006, someone misused the couple's credit card and they filed a report.

Irving's wife and children have declined requests to be interviewed.

Matt Mattingly, who runs a bed-and-breakfast on South Street about a quarter-mile from Irving's home, said he remembers seeing Irving but doesn't recall speaking to him.

"He lived under the radar perfectly," Mattingly said. "But this is the type of town where you can do that."

Employees and townspeople at a number of gathering places in town -- bars and restaurants, hardware stores, coffee shops, the Laundromat, the post office -- all had the same reaction to Irving's picture: He looks familiar, but I can't place him.

• • • • •

Back in Massachusetts, the Irving case started to go cold.

Noonan, the Cohasset police chief, assigned the Irving case to Detective Sgt. Greg Lennon, and in 2002, when Noonan retired, he told Lennon to stay on it.

The Cohasset police file on Gary Irving is about two inches thick, filled with yellowed pages typed on a typewriter. There are handwritten notes and Polaroid photographs, including Irving's mugshot from his September 1978 arrest.

During a recent interview, Lennon sifted through the pages, re-familiarizing himself with a case he knows well.

Over the years, Irving's disappearance was featured on nationally syndicated television shows such as "America's Most Wanted" and "Unsolved Mysteries." In one show, one of Irving's victims shared her story, although she appeared only in a silhouette and was not identified.

Every time a new show aired, Lennon said tips would flood in. He checked on all of them.

Waisgerber, who still lives on the South Shore, said police reached out to him a handful of times over the years about Irving.

"They wanted to know if he had ever contacted me," he said. "He never did."

Dickson didn't stop thinking about Irving. She said for a long time she expected to run into him around a corner somewhere.

Fugitives often try to reconnect with family members during life events, such as weddings or funerals. Irving's father, Carl Irving, died in September 2003. Police kept an eye on the funeral in case the son returned, but he never did.

Irving's fingerprints from his 1978 arrest have been in a federal database for decades. If he was ever arrested or imprisoned -- no matter where -- he would have been found out.

The closest Irving came was a parking ticket.

• • • • •

In June 2011, after years of searching, Massachusetts State Police located their most wanted criminal, James "Whitey" Bulger, hiding out in California.

They figured if a man like Bulger could be caught, so could Gary Irving.

Members of the fugitive apprehension division began to dig into the case with a renewed energy. Detective Lt. Michael Farley said Irving had been on their list the longest.

"We basically started from the beginning," he said.

They met with Dickson, Irving's childhood friend and neighbor. They met with Cohasset police.

Finally, they got a break.

Although state police have declined to provide specifics, a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Maine Sunday Telegram that it was a relative of Irving in Massachusetts who told police where he was.

(Continued on page 6)

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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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