Colorado’s longest-running escapee captured after 35 years
DENVER ” It took almost 35 years, but authorities said Wednesday they had finally caught up with a convicted robber who fled from the Colorado State Hospital in 1971, ending the state’s oldest unsolved escape case.
Gary L. McFall, 62, was arrested Tuesday at Port Richey, Fla., after investigators got a tip from the Marine Corps and searched in the National Crime Information Computer, motor vehicle records and commercial databases, the Colorado Department of Corrections said.
McFall was sentenced in February 1970 to serve 6 to 14 years in prison on a robbery conviction in Denver. He escaped in November 1971, after he was transferred to the Colorado State Hospital in Pueblo for observation, Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said. She did not know what prompted the transfer.
Florida investigators said McFall, who went by the name Robert Gary Davault, had no criminal record in the state, was a member of a Baptist church, had operated a paint and body shop, married and raised two stepsons. His wife had died.
His life on the run began to unravel in March when he tried to enter the Marine Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., saying he was a disabled veteran and wanted to cash a check on the base. Marine 1st Lt. Kevin Schultz said guards detained him because they suspected his disabled veteran’s card was fraudulent and because of other questions about his identification papers.
When the Marines did a routine check on McFall, they discovered a Colorado arrest warrant stemming from the 1971 escape and notified Colorado authorities, Schultz said. Because he was a civilian, the Marines turned him over to the Yuma police.
Sanguinetti said Yuma police let McFall go because the 1971 warrant for his arrest was valid only in Colorado. After his release, Colorado authorities issued a nationwide arrest warrant.
Detective James Ruland of the Port Richey Police Department said McFall told him he had “been waiting for this moment for 35 years” when authorities arrested him Tuesday.
“He said he had had a phone in his hand waiting to call to turn himself in” many times over the years, Ruland said.
Sanguinetti said efforts were under way to bring McFall back to Colorado to face felony escape charges.
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