Georgia prison escapee nabbed in Florida after three decades

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 07, 2015 5:46 PM

(Reuters) - An escaped Georgia convict who spent more than three decades on the lam was captured this week and taken into custody in south Florida, where he remained in jail on Friday.

Willie Lee Austin, 60, was serving a 15-year sentence for armed robbery when he escaped from Georgia's Central State Correctional Institute in December 1981, the U.S. Marshals Service said in a news release.

At the time, he was a "trusty," an inmate allowed to work outside the prison not under constant supervision, Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan said in an email.

He had been granted a Christmas pass, allowing him to leave for the holiday, she said. When he did not return, he was placed on escaped status on Dec. 27, 1981.

Investigators recently determined a possible alias that led them to an address for Austin in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. He was arrested on Wednesday.

He will remain in jail in Florida until extradited to Georgia, Hogan said. She said Georgia no longer has prison trustees.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Fla.; Editing by Eric Beech)