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NC murderer caught 16 years after escape

Posted July 1, 2011

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— A convicted murderer who escaped from prison in North Carolina in 1995 was arrested Thursday in Georgia, where he was married, had children, ran a business and owned a house, the U.S. Marshals Service announced.

Manuel Hrneith, 49, escaped from the New Hanover Correctional Center in Wilmington in May 1995. He was serving a maximum 18-year sentence for second-degree murder, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

The murder occurred in Pitt County, though District Attorney Clark Everett said Thursday he did not remember the case and could not immediately find who the victim was or any other details.

Hrneith had remained free since his escape and had started a pine straw business and bought a house in Cobbtown, Ga., under the alias Alfredo Arrieta Urieta in 2004, marshals said. He lived with three children and a woman, who told authorities that she was his wife and he was the father of their children.

"Apparently, he must've been a model citizen," said Tommy Long, supervisory deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service in Savannah, Ga. "The guy's gone 16 years and didn't get in trouble, not even a traffic stop."

U.S. marshals and local authorities arrested Hrneith without incident at his house at 47 Bird Dog Circle in Cobbtown around 1 a.m. Thursday. Tattnall County sheriff's deputies said they found four rifles and handguns in the home.

"We went out and asked him what his real name was, and he told us. We asked him if he had problems in (North Carolina), and he said, 'Yeah,'" said Capt. Keyfauver with the Tattnall County Sheriff's Office.

Hrneith was charged in Georgia as a being a convicted felon in possession of guns. He waived fighting extradition back to North Carolina.

Spokeswoman Pamela Walker said he would soon be back in the custody of the North Carolina Department of Correction.

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  • irishale Jul 1, 2011

    "if the penal system is designed to rehabilitate people into being model citizens,"

    The oddest thing about all of this, is that, with the exception of owning the guns (which his assumed name was allowed to have), he HAS been a model citizen. He's started an apparently successful business, got married, had some kids, bought a house, never got a ticket for a driving infraction... looks like he was rehabilitated. WAS, that is... odds are he won't be after serving his time.

    I'm not saying let him go... BUT... it does make one think, doesn't it?

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Jul 1, 2011

    "He lived with three children and a woman, who told authorities that she was his wife and he was the father of their children."

    So he ruined their lives too.

    What a shame.

    Praying for them, innocent victims too.

  • jbarron4950 Jul 1, 2011

    18 years max sentence and hes been escaped for 16. What would be freedom NOW just backfired. Now he still has to serve the original sentence plus time for the escape. Good job Cletus!
    Keepin_it_Reel_in_NC

    The New Hanover Center is a minimum security unit with work-release and study-release. Walking away is not extremely hard. The escape will only net abouts 6 months. In this case, all he did was trade years as I'm sure he won't see a minimum custody unit for awhile.

  • wayneuber Jul 1, 2011

    There are now 13 (down from 14) convicted murderers still in "escape status" from the NC prison system. Who knows what crimes they've commited (and how many new victims are suffering) while they are on the lam? Imagine how many escaped murderers from other states reside here in NC (and the costs of manhunts that death penalty foes never include in their cost calculations) ...

  • btneast Jul 1, 2011

    if the penal system is designed to rehabilitate people into being model citizens,

    ....Yes, in theory, that's what a prison does....but in reality, it rarely accomplishes that. We all are products of the people we associate with and the media we absorb on a daily basis. We all identify and accept the codes and standards of the group we are part of....so putting someone into a community of mostly dysfunctional criminals for a long period of time that know only a life of crime....and what do you think you will get? Same with kids, you put one into the Juvenile system, you have pretty much guaranteed a lifetime down the wrong path. Some make a turnaround, but most end right back in prison. I am in no way for coddling criminals or giving them any psychological excuses, but to think that prison is successful at rehabilitation is delusional. Its just a temporary storehouse. The problem will be back sooner than it should to boot......

  • Holli0224 Jul 1, 2011

    "Good job Cletus!"

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • Follow_The_Money27617 Jul 1, 2011

    18 years max sentence and hes been escaped for 16. What would be freedom NOW just backfired. Now he still has to serve the original sentence plus time for the escape. Good job Cletus!

  • thefensk Jul 1, 2011

    Sooner or later they'll get you. Remember that old retiree who was the cop killer in California in the 50s? They found him living a respectable life in SC.

  • 2AMANDA2 Jul 1, 2011

    prison escape only adds 2 years to their sentence. north carolina is a state that does not add additional charges for crimes committed while incarcerated and this would fall under that.

  • wa4dou Jul 1, 2011

    "I feel sorry for his wife and kids. I can't imagine what is going through their minds now..."

    He didn't just murder. He also defrauded his family.

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