Local News

Marshals arrest man after 17 years on lam

Posted November 10, 2009 4:02 p.m. EST
Updated November 11, 2009 9:49 a.m. EST

— 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.