Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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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
Around 8 p.m. on March 27, Gorham police officer Michael Brown got a call. State troopers from Maine and Massachusetts were preparing to descend on the Irving home on South Street, but they wanted a local officer to knock on the door.
"They gave me a brief description about this guy and what he had done," Brown said. "It was clear they wanted him. They didn't even want us to call dispatch about it."
Irving was inside watching television with his wife. They had just finished baking a cake together for her co-workers. They were getting ready to help put their toddler granddaughter to bed.
The knock turned their quiet, middle-class lives upside down.
Brown told the Irvings he was there to investigate a 911 hang-up call. Once Brown convinced Irving to join him on the porch, several state police troopers from Maine and Massachusetts were waiting. They told the man what really brought them there.
The bearded man standing on the porch matched the description of the suspect police were looking for, but they wanted to be sure. They asked him to lift his shirt so they could see the scars.
By that point, Officer Brown had gone inside to tell Irving's wife what was happening. The woman looked at her husband, and then at police, with disbelief.
"She was in complete shock," Brown said. "If she said she knew nothing about her husband's past, I believe her."
Officers arrested Irving and took him from his home while his wife stayed behind to ponder the possibility that the man she thought she knew and the life they had built together might all be a mirage.
Some neighbors on South Street watched from their windows with interest. They recognized the man but knew little about him, even though he had lived in town for three decades.
Irving initially told police that they had the wrong man. But during the ride from Gorham to Cumberland County Jail in Portland, he finally broke down and asked: "How did you find me?"
If the first big question is: How did Irving elude police for so long? The second might be: Could an 18-year-old serial rapist have ceased his violent, compulsive behavior without prison holding him back?
"It has always been my concern that there were other victims out there," said Noonan. "I have a hard time believing he could have just stopped."
William Marshall, director of Rockwood Psychological Services in Kingston, Ontario, and a national expert on sex offender treatment, said it would be "very unusual for someone who commits crimes like these at age 18 to suddenly abstain from further offenses and to maintain abstinence for 34 years."
"That's a truly remarkable example of self-restraint," Marshall said by email after reading about Irving's arrest and criminal history. "I cannot believe he did not harbor deviant fantasies about his offenses for at least the next several years."
Marshall said most rapists burn out by the age of 40, largely because of a natural drop in testosterone.
"Nevertheless, it is quite surprising that he was able to get through those high-risk years between his last known offense at age 18 years," he said. "But of course we do not know if he was offense-free for those years."
Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland said detectives are combing through all unsolved sexual assaults in southern Maine to see whether any fit Irving's profile from the late '70s. Nothing has turned up yet.
On April 12, after a brief court hearing in Massachusetts, Irving was ordered to submit a DNA sample, which will make it easier for police to link him to any unsolved cases.
(Continued on page 7)
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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