Georgia Allows Fugitive Who Hid in Connecticut for Decades to Remain Free

A Connecticut man who spent 48 years on the lam after escaping from a work camp in Georgia will be allowed to remain in the state, free as he is on parole, his attorney said. 

Robert Stackowitz, 71, was arrested at his home in rural Sherman in May, after officials processing his Social Security application discovered a warrant for his arrest.

Stackowitz is in poor health, his attorney said.

Stackowitz's lawyer, Norman Pattis, said Georgia officials will let the fugitive stay in Connecticut and the state of Connecticut has agreed to accept supervision of him until his sentence ends in 2022. 

"We are grateful to Georgia and Connecticut officials for this extraordinary consideration of Bob's medical needs. Their graciousness literally saved his life," Pattis said in a emailed statement.

Stackowitz was imprisoned for a robbery conviction and escaped in 1968 from a prison work camp in Carrolton, Georgia. 

Pattis provided previously undisclosed details of Stackowitz's life before the robbery and his time on the lam, including stints as a high school auto shop teacher, a Ford dealership mechanic and boat repairman.

Pattis said Stackowitz grew up in Bridgeport and did modeling work as a child. He later got married and had a daughter. He divorced at age 22, which broke his heart and prompted him to hit the road traveling for a while.

Stackowitz ended up in Georgia in 1966, where he met two other men who asked him to be the getaway driver for a home burglary in Henry County, Pattis said, but the homeowner was there, and the burglary turned into a home invasion robbery. Pattis said no one was injured.

All three men were arrested and sentenced to prison.

While in prison, officials learned of Stackowitz's mechanic skills and allowed him to tune up the warden's car and work on school buses at a facility next to the prison camp, Pattis said. It was at the bus facility where he escaped from custody.

Stackowitz, apparently with enough cash to buy a plane ticket, went straight to an airport and flew back to Connecticut and went on to teach an automotive class at Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury and worked at a few Ford dealerships, Pattis said.

Stackowitz eventually settled in Sherman, a small town in western Connecticut along the New York border, where he repaired boats at his home. In Sherman, he went by the alias Bob Gordon, but some people also knew him as Bob Stackowitz, Pattis said.

Stackowitz never remarried, but lived for several years with a woman who later died of cancer, Pattis said.

"This is a great guy who made horrible mistakes as a young man," Pattis said. "He would freely admit that what he did was wrong. My hope is that Georgia officials will be inspired by a realistic view of justice."

Stackowitz will remain free on parole as long as he complies with conditions of his parole. Pattis said his client must break no laws, comply with doctor's orders and remain at his Sherman home. 

Georgia officials will periodically review his status and there will be an annual review of his right to remain in Connecticut.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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