A 77-year-old prison escapee who had been on the run for nearly half a century was captured this week in New Mexico, the FBI said.
The retired police officer who Luis Archuleta was convicted of shooting in the stomach in 1971 said Thursday he tracked down Archuleta after receiving a telephone tip this summer.
“I’m reveling in the fact that I got him,” former Denver police Officer Daril Cinquanta told NBC affiliate KUSA in Denver.
Cinquanta said he passed his tip along to the FBI. With the help of Española, New Mexico, police and a SWAT team, Archuleta was captured at home Wednesday. The station reported Archuleta was living with a wife who was not aware of his criminal past.
“Mr. Archuleta will at long last be held accountable for his actions,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a statement.
Archuleta, also known as Larry Pusateri, was convicted in 1973 of shooting Cinquanta, according to the FBI. He escaped from a Colorado state prison facility the next year, the bureau said.
In 1977, he was named as a federal fugitive.
Cinquanta retired from the force, but he continued to hunt for the fugitive as he set up his a private investigation firm, he said. This summer he got a key phone call.
“This person says, ‘I thought about it, and I’m going to tell where the guy is that shot you,'” the former officer said. “Of course I was skeptical. This person gives me his address his alias and other facts.”
Cinquanta looked the man up and found that he had been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, he said. His mug shot appeared to match the appearance of Archuleta, and he started to think he had his man, he said.
The man’s tattoos matched the fugitive’s, Cinquanta told the Denver station.
“I would love to sit down and talk to him,” the former officer said.
The U.S. District Court in Colorado on June 30 re-issued the federal arrest warrant for Archuleta, which had expired in 2018, the FBI said in a statement.
He was wanted again “for the charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution/confinement and his associated escape from a Colorado Department of Corrections facility,” the bureau said.
Archuleta lived in Española for four decades under the alias Ramon Montoya, the FBI said. He was being returned to Colorado, the bureau said.
“We are grateful to all of our law enforcement partners who helped bring Mr. Archuleta back to Colorado to serve his sentence for this serious crime,” Dean Williams, executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, said in a statement. “We hope that this arrest will help bring some peace to the victim in this case.”
Alexander Mitchell contributed.