Neighbors ‘in shock’ after prison escapee found in Kokomo

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — An Ohio fugitive on the lam for 22 years is back behind bars after he was found living in Howard County under a fake name.

Seventy-one-year-old Roger Perdue was convicted on grand theft charges in 1992 and sentenced to serve five and a half years at the London Correctional Facility just outside Columbus, Ohio. But, just five months into that sentence, he escaped.

U.S. Marshals have been looking for him ever since.

Turns out, he was hiding in plain sight, living with his wife under what police say is a fake name. Some neighbors say they even knew him by his real name.

But, they had no idea who he really was.

The answer to the 22-year mystery sat, unknkown on their quiet street for at least four years, just off the main drag in Kokomo.

Then, last Friday, Ohio State Highway Patrol got a tip.

“One of his wife’s family members was concerned about her health. So, they picked up the phone and said he was living with a woman in Kokomo, Indiana, but they didn’t know exactly where he was,” said Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Craig Cvetan.

U.S. Marshal’s were able to use that information to track down Perdue’s wife Carolyn. Her social security checks were being mailed to a home in the 1000 block of South Elizabeth Street in Kokomo.

Officers moved in.

“They were met at the front door by the individual, Mr. Perdue, who basically told the officers ‘I’m the subject you’re looking for,” said Kokomo Police Department Major Brian Seldon. “They took him into custody without incident. There was no resistance.”

Perdue was taken to the Howard County Jail to await extradition back to Ohio.

“I would say he probably was tired. He didn’t give that specific indication. But, he told the officers ‘I’m the subject that you’re looking for.’ And, I think he was ready to give up,” said Seldon.

Property records show the home on South Elizabeth Street was not in Perdue’s name, or his wife’s. Neighbors said many in the neighborhood are renters. No one answered the door at the home on Friday.

Neighbors had a hard time containing their surprise about Perdue’s true identity.

“That’s really kind of bizarre,” said Brian Weber, who said the elderly couple was always friendly to him. “It’s kind of unsettling. It’s not something you’d even really consider happening right next door.”

“We mowed their yard, trimmed their trees, we thought they were just an excellent couple,” said Robert McKinney, who lives across the street. “Real friendly. Everybody around this neighborhood loved those people. You couldn’t ask for better neighbors. So, I’m overwhelmed with shock, surprised, even disgusted that he could do that.”

“I used to go over and take care of her when she was in poor health,” added Crystal McKinney. “I just can’t believe he was a wanted convict the whole time.”

Perdue’s extradition process was still ongoing Friday, though he was no longer in the Howard County Jail. He could face new charges as early as next week, Cvetan said, including charges related to escape, forgery and identity fraud.

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