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Fla. Fugitive On The Run For 32 Years Captured In Colorado

MIAMI (CBS4) – A Florida murderer who escaped from prison more than three decades ago while serving a life sentence has been recaptured in Montrose County, Colorado.

Frederick Barrett escaped from Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida on August 17, 1979 by climbing three perimeter fences at night during a power outage. He was serving a life sentence for the February 8, 1971 murder of Carl Ardolino on the Florida Turnpike.

Ardolino had picked up Barrett and another man who were hitchhiking, said Ron Lindbak, a deputy U.S. marshal in Florida. Ardolino was choked and beaten until he was unconscious and then held underwater in a ditch until he died.

After his escape, Barrett managed to elude authorities for 32 years but time caught up with him on Wednesday when Barrett, who was living under the name Neil Meltzer, was arrested by U.S. Marshals dressed as U.S. Forest Service firefighters at a remote Colorado cabin.

Barrett was arrested outside a makeshift but tidy cabin near Montrose, about 200 miles southwest of Denver, when the officers said they wanted to discuss fire danger, the U.S. Marshals Service said. When they saw a tattoo on his hand that matched one that Barrett was known to have, they told him he was under arrest.

"His whole face, every expression dropped out of his face," said Charlie Ahmad of the Marshals Service, recounting what the arresting officers told him.

Barrett is not only facing escape charges in Florida, he'll face charges in Colorado as well after U.S. Marshalls found a marijuana grow house and a number of firearms in his home, the Marshals Service said.

Charges will include possession of firearms by a convicted felon and operating a grow house for the cultivation of marijuana. He must answer to those charges and face an extradition hearing before he can return to Florida. Barrett is being held at the Montrose County Jail, in Montrose, Colorado.

Barrett's case was featured on billboards and in the press as recently as Christmas 2009 during a "12 Days of Fugitives" campaign designed to capture violent cold case fugitives.

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