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Marshals arrest man after 17 years on lam

Posted November 10, 2009
Updated November 11, 2009

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— Members of the U.S. Marshals Service Violent Fugitive Task Force on Monday arrested a Raleigh man who had been wanted in Arizona for 17 years.

Bobby Rea Irwin was convicted of manslaughter in Phoenix in 1989 and violated his probation three years later, authorities said. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but he left town and started a new life, authorities said.

Irwin allegedly changed his name to Robert LaRoche, married and settled down in Raleigh, where he worked as a support technician in the computer industry, authorities said.

Last week, Phoenix law enforcement officers contacted U.S. marshals in Raleigh and provided them with information about Irwin's new identity, authorities said. He was arrested at his north Raleigh home Monday night after fingerprints confirmed his real identity.

“The first thing we did was confirm who he said he was,” Deputy U.S. Marshal Bryan Konig said. “My next step was to show him a photo. I said, ‘Can I show you a photo of someone, see if you recognize him?’ I pulled out the 1988 photo, looked at him, and he got a little ashen, looked visibly shaken and said, ‘Well, he looks a little bit like me.’"

Konig also said a traffic stop in 1999 helped track Irwin down.

“He was stopped in New Mexico for aggravated driving under the influence but made bond before the fingerprints matched," he said. "That was part of the information that led us to his door Monday night. He provided the same name, date of birth and Social Security number that he continues to use today.”

Authorities said Irwin killed William Owen, a member of a white supremacist group, who had previously robbed and attacked him. Irwin said he fled Arizona because he was afraid of retaliation, according to authorities.

Irwin, 55, was being held Tuesday at the Wake County jail pending extradition proceedings.


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  • Maximus - the - man Nov 11, 2009

    Well he has lived a productive life for 15 so years. I think that he should be given a break, let him finish out his probation for there is for more severe criminals out there that should be behind bars instead of running the streets.

  • grenlyn1 Nov 10, 2009


    Ya think?

  • MileageWarrior Nov 10, 2009

    jeez, maybe if they didnt let a convicted murderer out on parole, they wouldnt have had to hunt for this guy over the last 17 years. just a thought.

  • Boogalooboy Nov 10, 2009

    let's think this thru...
    1. We have what we call illegal aliens and when they are found, using our system we do nothing.

    2. We are about to let many murderers loose into our community because of a loophole in our laws.

    3. Now, before we go any further let's hear the entire story on this guy. Heck of a lot of difference in a man slaughter chg, and proof of being able to live a productive life than premeditated murders realeased. Can't wait to hear the back ground on his chgs...Not that any of these guys should be turned loose but none of these thought processes are consistent....with anything..

  • Timbo Nov 10, 2009

    "you can run..but not forever..the LONG ARM of the law will get you sooner or later"

    Not necessarily. But it's probable.

  • Raleigh Boys Nov 10, 2009

    Where did he work? Durham County Gov?

  • ncsudan Nov 10, 2009

    landshark never reads things before posting inane comments. Move on, nothing new there.

  • oftenbad Nov 10, 2009

    landshark...can you read? Was convicted of Manslaughter and place on probation for Manslaughter. Then 3 years later he absconded to our great state.

  • moth Nov 10, 2009

    A lot of this story is missing. Why was he placed on parole for manslaughter in the first place? Then he stayed completely clean for the last 17 years working as a tech? Very strange. Not your usual crime story.

  • concerncitizen Nov 10, 2009

    Convicted of manslaughter in Phoenix in 1989 and was on probation three years later. What was his original sentence? He spent less than three years in jail? Why did he leave Phoenix?