PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona woman says her husband believed he was in the clear after escaping from an Iowa prison 37 years ago and they were both shocked when authorities arrested him earlier this week.
When police arrived at the couple’s door in Prescott Valley, Charles “Chuck” Leroy Cagley had been using his own name for over a decade after being told an arrest warrant had been dismissed, Virginia Cagley said Friday.
“We’re fighting this,” she said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “He’s never been in any trouble since that time period.”
Prescott Valley police detectives arrested Cagley on Tuesday on an active felony extraditable warrant after the FBI notified the department that Cagley lived in Prescott Valley, the department said in a statement.
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Virginia Cagley said an Iowa prison warden wrote a 2006 letter saying the 1981 warrant for Cagley’s arrest had been withdrawn and that Iowa no longer wanted him back in custody. The warden wrote the letter to the Department of Veteran Affairs after Cagley, a Vietnam veteran, applied for benefits but was told there was a warrant out for him, she said.
Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman Cord Overton said department officials are consulting with the state attorney general’s office to determine the status of any warrants for Cagley and what prison time is left to be served.
“We are going to be consulting with our legal counsel to make sure whatever happens next is the most appropriate course of action,” Overton said. “We want to be sure we get it right.”
Overton said electronic records contain little information about Cagley’s escape from the Newton Correctional Facility or his current status and that latest information indicates an escape warrant was requested Feb. 16, 1981.
Cagley had entered the prison system in 1978 to serve a sentence of 10 years, less time for good behavior, on his conviction in Woodbury County, according to Overton and Cagley’s online profile on the department’s website .
Prescott Valley, a city of 43,000, is 82 miles (132 kilometers) north of Phoenix.
The department’s statement said Cagley had been living in the area since 2004 and that detectives who arrested Cagley based on the FBI notification confirmed there was an active warrant for him.
The warrant was dated in January 2018 and “was a re-issue for some reason,” police spokesman Jerry Ferguson said.
Virginia Cagley said her husband fled prison because he’d been threatened by other inmates who wanted him to smuggle marijuana into the prison and because somebody tried to break into her trailer. “We were in fear for our lives so we ran.”
The couple had been together since before the escape but didn’t get married until 2012, after their adult children began getting married, she said.
The family had a private investigator in Iowa research Cagley’s status in 2005, the wife said. “He said everything had been dropped.”
After using a false name since his escape, Cagley began using his real name and used it in 2005 to get an Arizona driver’s license, she said. “And nothing shows up.”
Then in 2006, his escape warrant was flagged when he applied for VA benefits, which led to the warden’s letter saying Cagley wasn’t a wanted man, she said. “That’s how we had to clear it up that time.”
Virginia Cagley said she’s wants to talk to her husband about getting an attorney.
“If this is a false arrest we’re going to sue,” she said.