Murderer Recaptured 32 Years After Escaping From Prison

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Frederick Barrett, 60, slipped away from the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, FL during a nighttime power outage on August 17, 1979 and has been on the run ever since. Barrett, 60, was captured on Wednesday in Montrose County, Colorado where he had been living in a mountainous, remote area cabin under the name, Neil Melzer, Florida officials said.

U.S. Marshals dressed as U.S. Forest Service firefighters, arrested Barrett early on Wednesday where a tattoo of a cross and dot on his right hand helped officers confirm they had the right man, said Steve Davenport, a special agent supervisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Barrett had been serving a life sentence for the murder of a traveling companion on the Florida Turnpike in February 1971 before being recaptured.  According to officials, he choked Carl Ardolino from behind as Ardolino was driving. Barrett and another man then stopped the car, carried Ardolino to a shallow ditch filled with water and held his head underneath until he died. Margaret Archer, Ardolino’s niece, said her 26-year-old uncle had picked the men up at a rest stop as he drove from New Jersey to Florida for a vacation.

Davenport told investigators that he had been looking for Barrett  since 2009, when a new fugitive initiative in Florida set its sights on finding a dozen long-term prison escapees with violent histories.

“It’s really, really difficult to track somebody who’s been out 30 years,” Davenport told Reuters. “The trail was cold.”

But by using public records, investigators found database evidence that lead to information about Barrett’s travels to California, Hawaii, Maryland, and Tennessee since his escape and eventually settled in Colorado.

Barrett now faces drug and gun charges in Colorado, in addition to escape charges in Florida, after marshals found a marijuana grow house and multiple firearms in his home, officials said.

Carl Ardolino’s  family members welcomed the news of Barrett’s capture after so many years.

“Unbelievable,” Archer said. “We were thrilled to say the least.”

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