Frederick Barrett (60) escaped from a Florida prison in
1979, while serving a life sentence for murder, has been
arrested outside the town of Montrose, Colorado. Photo by
Officers posing as forest rangers have surprised a
60-year-old escapee from Florida at a remote Colorado cabiin ,
bringing a sudden end to his 32 years on the lam after a murder
conviction in the 1970s.
Frederick Barrett was arrested outside a makeshift but tidy
cabin near Montrose, about 320km southwest of Denver, when
the officers said they wanted to discuss fire danger, the
U.S. Marshals Service said.
When they saw a tattoo on his hand that matched one that
Barrett was known to have, they told him he was under arrest.
"His whole face, every expression dropped out of his face,"
said Charlie Ahmad of the Marshals Service, recounting what
the arresting officers told him.
Ahmad, the enforcement supervisor for the Marshals Service in
Colorado, led the arrest team of marshals, Montrose County
deputies and US Forest Service law enforcement officers.
Ahmad and some of the team surreptitiously surrounded the
cabin before other officers collared Barrett.
Barrett was convicted of murder in the 1971 death of Carl
Ardolino in Florida, according to the Florida Department of
Ardolino had picked up Barrett and another man who were
hitchhiking, said Ron Lindbak, a deputy US marshal in
Florida. Ardolino was choked and beaten until he was
unconscious and then held underwater in a ditch until he
Barrett escaped from Union Correctional Institution in
Raiford, Florida, in August 1979 by climbing three fences at
night during a power failure. Barrett had escaped and been
captured twice before that, Lindbak said.
The Montrose Daily Press reported Barrett had lived in
Montrose County since 1994.
The arrest took months of planning, but authorities didn't
say how they tracked Barrett to Colorado. Barrett had been
using the alias "Neil Meltzer," Florida authorities said.
Barrett wouldn't say how he had supported himself, Ahmad
Barrett's cabin was two stories and was connected to a
camper, Ahmad said, with plywood floors, a wood-burning stove
and a generator.
"It was kept very clean, it was meticulously clean," Ahmad
Barrett was alone when arrested but there was evidence of a
second person "coming and going," Ahmad said.
Authorities aren't looking for anyone else, he said.
"We rarely prosecute those (aiding and abetting cases), and
when we do, we rarely win," he said.
The cabin was on a dirt road about an hour's drive west of
Montrose, a town of about 18,000. In the wintertime, it's
accessible only by snowshoe or snowmobile.
The cabin is on private land bordered by the Uncompahgre
National Forest, and a campsite near the lot is popular with
hunters, Ahmad said.
He said he didn't know who owned the land.
Barrett is being held at the Montrose County jail awaiting
extradition to Florida.
Officers saw several firearms and what appeared to be a small
marijuana growing operation, and local authorities were
seeking a state search warrant for the property, the Marshals