U.S. Marshals say Willie Parker escaped from a Maryland prison in 1965 where he was serving time for armed robbery.
They captured Parker at a home near the Garland Community Wednesday.
In Maryland, Parker was serving a 40-year sentence for three counts of robbery with a deadly weapon.
Through the collective resources of the U.S. Marshals Service and the Maryland State Police, an investigation revealed that Parker had traveled throughout the United States and utilized several aliases in an attempt to avoid capture.
Parker was found in a rear bedroom, taken into custody and transported to the Sampson County Jail without incident.
Residents in Sampson County could not believe it; they told Eyewitness News Parker grew up near Rose Hill.
They say he came back to the area about 30 years ago and led a quiet life until Wednesday, when U.S. Marshals grabbed him at the home he was staying.
"Everybody around here thought the world of him, never seen him raise no sand, no nothing," Roommate, Rufus Peterson said.
Peterson says he had no idea that the man he rented a room to is the man marshals say was on the run for 40 years.
"I tell you the truth, I cried," Peterson said. "You think a man as old as he is in that kind of trouble."
Peterson says Parker told him he was trying to save up money to buy a mobile home. He and others in the area say Parker never acted like a man on the run from the law.
"No, he never complained about nothing, that's what I couldn't understand," Peterson said.
Parker's relatives do not understand either. No one apparently knew the secret life Parker lived over the past 40 years, until it finally caught up with him.