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Iowa Mulls Case of Arizona Man Who Fled Prison Decades Ago

Yavapai County Jail via AP

More than two months after an Arizona man was arrested on a fugitive warrant stemming from his escape from an Iowa prison 37 years ago, officials there have yet to decide whether to extradite or release him.

For over a decade, Charles Cagley thought he was no longer a wanted man based on a private investigator's research in 2005 and on an Iowa prison warden's letter to Veterans Affairs a year later, his wife Virginia Cagley said.

All that came unglued March 27 when police, notified by the FBI that Iowa had a newly outstanding warrant for him, showed up at the couple's home in Prescott Valley, 82 miles (132 kilometers) north of Phoenix. The Cagleys had lived in the area since 2004.

Since Charles Cagley's arrest, Iowa authorities have been trying to decide where things stand legally and what they will do next. Meanwhile, he's been locked up at the Yavapai County Jail in Camp Verde, 23 miles (37 kilometers) from the couple's home.

"He does a lot of reading. He's read a lot of books and he constructed a backgammon game out of cardboard and sugar containers," Virginia Cagley told The Associated Press during a telephone interview Thursday. "He and his cellmates play."

The wife, who frequently speaks to her jailed husband by phone, said his frame of mind is "up and down, nervous and not nervous."

Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman Cord Overton said Friday the department has been working with an assistant attorney general and Gov. Kim Reynolds' staff "to take the proper legal course of action in regards to this case."

"As it is obviously a rather unusual case, it is our duty to ensure that the action taken is that which is most appropriate in accordance with the law," Overton said in an email.

Overton said Iowa officials believe that a 90-day limit on his detention in Arizona expires June 26.

Finding paper records from decades ago is one reason resolution of the case has been difficult, Overton said.

Overton previously told the AP that the 2018 warrant that resulted in Charles Cagley's March arrest was issued after state officials reviewed old records and found that the escape case appeared unresolved.

Charles Cagley entered prison in 1978 to serve a 10-year sentence, less time for good behavior, on a robbery conviction in Woodbury County.

Virginia Cagley previously said her husband fled because he was 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," she said.

The private investigator the couple hired in 2005 to research the Iowa case was told "everything had been dropped," Virginia Cagley said.

In 2006, after Charles Cagley applied for VA benefits, the Iowa warden wrote the VA and said the 1991 warrant was withdrawn, she added.

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