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Fugitive on the Run 40 Years Busted, Done In by His Prints

Jose Romero escaped from SC in 1979; he was nabbed in Delaware last month
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2020 12:53 PM CST
When He Escaped, Carter Was President. He's Back in Jail
Jose Romero.   (Dover Police Department)

(Newser) – In 1979, Pink Floyd's The Wall was released, Margaret Thatcher was elected prime minister of the UK, and Jose Romero escaped from a South Carolina prison. Almost 40 years to the day of his jailbreak, however, the sexagenarian (he's said to be 63 or 64) was arrested in Delaware under an alias, and soon afterward identified by fingerprints as the longtime fugitive. NBC News reports Romero was first busted three days after Christmas when police got a call about someone trespassing at a Dover convenience store. When cops arrived, they say Romero gave them a Delaware ID with the name Arnaldo Figueroa on it. He was processed, fingerprinted, and released. When the prints came back indicating he was Romero, however, police tracked him down on New Year's Day and rearrested him without incident.

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WRDE notes Romero had been serving an 18-year sentence for armed robbery when he escaped on Dec. 13, 1979, from a facility in Anderson County, SC, used to house an inmate work crew. New charges against Romero, who'll be extradited back to the Palmetto State, include public intoxication, loitering, and criminal trespassing for the Dec. 28 incident, as well as forgery, criminal impersonation, and being an out-of-state fugitive. Romero will have to serve out the remaining time on his original sentence—about seven years—as well as additional time if convicted for his escape; WLTX notes that new time could be between 10 and 15 years. "He definitely would've been out by now and hopefully would've gone on to a productive life," a South Carolina Department of Corrections rep says. "Now he's looking at some substantial time." (Read more fugitive stories.)

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