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Wife says she never knew about husband's criminal past

Posted November 11, 2009

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— A Raleigh woman says she never knew her husband was on the lam for 17 years before federal authorities arrested him Monday.

Members of the U.S. Marshals Service Violent Fugitive Task Force detained Bobby Rea Irwin, 55, on a probation violation stemming from a 1989 manslaughter conviction in Phoenix.

Wife never knew of husband's criminal past Wife never knew of husband's criminal past

A warrant was issued for his arrest but, authorities say, he left town, changed his name to Robert LaRoche and started a new life. Fifteen years ago, he married his wife, and the two moved to Raleigh, where they have lived for the past 10 years.

He recently started a job as a support technician in the computer industry

"It's hard. I haven't been sleeping well. It's not easy right now," said Irwin's wife, who asked that she not be identified out of fear for her safety.

She was shopping when marshals arrested her husband – a man she describes as well-mannered, very reserved and well respected by all.

Authorities say Irwin killed a white supremacist who had previously robbed and assaulted him. He fled out of fear of retaliation, they say. Marshals were able to track Irwin after a New Mexico traffic stop in 1999.

"Probably now, because of the bits and pieces of information I'm hearing, he probably did not tell me for my protection," Irwin's wife said.

Others who know Irwin as LaRoche say they are also stunned by his arrest and past.

"It's devastating. It's so shocking and surprising," said the Rev. Father Paul Kaplanis, parish priest at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, where Irwin is an involved church member and singer in the choir.

"If you're in a church, a lot of times you're going to become closer to God, reconcile, change your life," Kaplanis continued. "Maybe this is where he sought refuge."

Irwin has waived extradition from North Carolina to Arizona, and his wife said she hopes the court there will take into consideration her husband's lifestyle since committing the crime.

"It's been too long. It's over 17 years. The whole thing should really be dropped, and we should be able to go on with our lives," she said. "We all have our ups and downs, but we live a good life."

"I think he's worried about everything," she continued. "We've worked really hard to accomplish what we did. It's a very devastating situation."

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  • manofjustice Nov 13, 2009

    I hope this good man doesn't go to prison. He is a Godly christian man and men like that don't deserve to go to prison with a bunch of sweaty male criminals. This man is soon to be a preacher of good news for the world to hear. I will continue to pray for this good man.

  • wildcat Nov 12, 2009

    Good stories today, WRAL.

  • wildcat Nov 12, 2009

    This man will be going to prison, I don't even doubt that.

  • wildcat Nov 12, 2009

    But I doubt it.
    citizen782

    I really don't think you understood. This man is a criminal and is guilty. Otherwise, he would not have had a reason to run and lie to his wife all these years. Right?

  • wildcat Nov 12, 2009

    An innocent man do not run. A guilty man however will do just that. The feds just don't arrest a person for no reason. Reread the story.

  • wildcat Nov 12, 2009

    Wow. Stunning. You people can't really can't read can you? Or do you just subjectively ignore factual points of what you've read?

    on a probation violation stemming from a 1989 manslaughter conviction in Phoenix.

    Okay, sorry. I can read well. Thank you. So why did the Feds arrest him. Why was this man running if he was not quilty?

  • WRALblows Nov 12, 2009

    "Yes he is a murderer and still should serve his time in prison for his wrongness."

    Wow. Stunning. You people can't really can't read can you? Or do you just subjectively ignore factual points of what you've read?

    Here's a point several of us have tried to make that you can't comprehend: He was never charged with murder and he was never sentenced to prison. Once you understand that maybe you can understand the rest of the story. But I doubt it.

  • WRALblows Nov 12, 2009

    "God help us if Progressives like citizen782 get their way and MURDER is MURDERERS as embraced as "socially diverse"

    Utter GARBAGE Citizen782 and you know it!"

    Well that was a completely incoherent rant. "MURDER is MURDERERs and embraced as "socially diverse". Really? I mean, seriously?

    It's not possible to debate on an intellectual level with someone like "affirmativediversity". You are simply not up to the task. Even your nickname is a mockery towards social diversity. We know where you stand and those like you are losing ground fast in a changing America. We will end it with that.

  • wildcat Nov 12, 2009

    Yes he is a murderer and still should serve his time in prison for his wrongness. Running away and changing his name finally caught up with him. He needs to deal with his consequences.

  • WRALblows Nov 12, 2009

    "The man is a MURDERER...he MURDERERED someone..." - affirmativediversity

    "Murder has no statute of limitations, lady." - stormeevampira

    Reading is fundamental. Comprehension is essential. He was never charged with murder despite your ideological opinions. He was charged with and convicted of manslaughter. You people need some education.
    He is facing "a probation violation stemming from a 1989 manslaughter conviction in Phoenix." This means he was on probation for manslaughter and violated probation by running. He did not run away from the manslaughter charge geniuses.

    "No one noticed how this story has been manipulated by the insertion of the term "white supremacist" - ContinuityMan

    FTA: "Authorities say Irwin killed a white supremacist". That means that authorities knew the man he killed was a white supremacist. If you feel remorse for the dead racist, seek help

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