Local News

NC murderer caught 16 years after escape

Posted July 1, 2011 1:44 p.m. EDT

— 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.