Ian Jackson MacDonald, Fugitive for 30 Years, Captured in South Florida, U.S. Marshals Say

US Marshal Graphic
Ian Jackson MacDonald, Fugitive for 30 Years, Captured in South Florida, U.S. Marshals say

HOMOSASSA, Fla. (CBS/AP) It's an arrest 30 years in the making. The U.S. Marshals Service says they've captured 71-year-old Ian Jackson MacDonald, who escaped custody in 1980 by faking a heart attack.

Authorities say they apprehended MacDonald Tuesday at a home in Homosassa, Fla.  MacDonald escaped from federal custody in 1980 as he awaited extradition from Miami to Canada  for importing and trafficking in marijuana.

According to U.S. Marshals, MacDonald was arrested three decades ago on a Canadian arrest warrant charging him as a co-conspirator in a plan to import up to 500 pounds of marijuana from Fort Lauderdale.  That's when "Big Mac," as he liked to call himself then according to the Sun Sentinel, made his great escape - and faked a heart attack.

After arriving at a hospital for treatment, MacDonald apparently convinced a private security officer to unshackle his legs so he could take a shower. The officer walked to the nurse's station, and when he returned, MacDonald had vanished, Barry Golden, senior inspector with the Marshals in Miami, told the Sentinel.

At the time, MacDonald, a Canadian transplant, was living the high life with boats, planes, pools all monogrammed with his nickname "Big Mac," according to a 1980 profile of him in the newspaper.

But he traded all that in for the life of a fugitive, and allegedly changed his name to Jack Hunter.

According to Golden, MacDonald - aka Hunter - moved to Pennsylvania and at one point owned an appliance store. He also worked as a horse caretaker, earning about $1900 a month, the paper reported.

When authorities finally caught up with MacDonald he initially tried to stick with his fugitive identity but eventually caved, reportedly telling the deputies, "You're right, you got me. I have been looking over my shoulder all these years. I wondered when this day would come."