1987 prison escapee captured in Reading

May 4, 2008 6:22:03 AM PDT
Roberto Diaz escaped from prison and spent 20 years on the run. His luck ran out after he took a bicycle ride.

Authorities said Diaz sawed through the bars of a window at Dauphin County Prison in 1987 along with two others and vanished.

On April 14, Reading police checking on suspicious activity spotted Diaz on a bicycle and confronted him, and a criminal database check turned up that he was wanted in the escape more than 20 years earlier, Capt. Robert Schafer said.

Dauphin County Detective John Goshert said the recapture of Diaz came as a shock.

"I must have pulled this case 100 times," Goshert said.

Diaz is back in Dauphin County prison awaiting a hearing on the escape, which he made while being held on charges of driving while intoxicated and receiving stolen property. Goshert said Diaz talked in a written statement about the strain of his life as a fugitive.

"It's like I've been in jail all this time," Diaz wrote, according to Goshert. "I never felt free."

Diaz apparently overcame a substance abuse problem and managed to avoid any run-ins with the law, Goshert said.

"It's commendable that he hasn't been in trouble for 21 years," he said.

Diaz's attorney, Samuel Rivera, did not immediately return a call to his Harrisburg office seeking comment Saturday.