Georgia Prisoner On The Run Since 1981 Caught In Broward
Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter
BROWARD (CBSMiami) – A man 33 years on the run and living in South Florida is finally behind bars.
The U.S. Marshals arrested Willie Austin Thursday in Broward County after watching him for weeks.
They said Austin is an armed robber who escaped from a Georgia prison in 1981.
Austin was reportedly living as "Larry Jackson" in a condo in Lauderdale Lakes. He owned J.C. Office Furniture in Pompano Beach.
Ever-improving technology helped cold-case investigators in Atlanta spot the 60-year-old armed robber by comparing his 1977 mugshot to a database of Florida driver's license pictures.
"They came across a driver's license photo that looked like Willie Austin, 30 years older," explained Barry Golden at the U.S. Marshals office in Miami. "They believed that this is gonna be the guy that assumed a new identity."
Investigators in Georgia let the fugitive task force in Miami know last month, prompting them to start surveillance. They watched the man's comings and goings at his home and office.
Finally, when investigators were sure Jackson was indeed Austin, they approached and questioned him.
"Mr. Austin maintained that he was really Larry Jackson and said, 'Hey, I've never been arrested. My name is Larry Jackson,'" Golden told CBS4 reporter Donna Rapado. "They said, 'Look, we know you're that guy named Willie Austin who escaped from a prison in Georgia.' And at that point in time he said, 'Okay, you got me.'"
Golden says Austin was able to stay under the radar for more than three decades because he stayed out of trouble. He was never arrested again in the 33 years since he escaped.
"That's the one thing he did right, is live a productive life," Golden said.
Austin was released from prison on a Christmas pass in 1981 and never returned.
He had already served five years of a 15-year sentence.
He stays at the Broward County jail until Georgia extradites him.
for more features.