The long arm of the law is even longer in cyberspace. Just ask Leslie Isben Rogge, a fugitive from U.S. justice who was holed up in Antigua, Guatemala, until a 14-year-old family friend spotted his picture on the FBI's Web site, landing him back in jail.
According to the Associated Press, Rogge, a convicted bank robber who was serving time in Florida, was extradited to Idaho in 1985, where he faced a similar charge. While in Idaho, Rogge, reporedly aided by a prison guard, escaped.
He turned up in Antigua nearly four years ago with his wife, Judy Kay Wilson, also wanted by authorities, the report said. The pair lived there under the names Bill and Anne Young, becoming comfortable members of the expatriate American community. Comfortable, that is, until the Internet came to town.
The arrest marked the first time that the FBI's Most Wanted list has led directly to the apprehension of a felon. Agents are actively publicizing the case more than a month after the arrest, hoping to raise public awareness of the site and add it to their list of weapons against criminals, alongside the popular FBI's Most Wanted syndicated television show.
Officials from the bureau and many other agencies are encouraged by the development, hoping that the Web can be used as an increasingly effective law enforcement tool as the Internet becomes more mainstream worldwide. Given the nascency of the medium, it was fitting that the first FBI case to be cracked through the Net was broken by a teenager.
Fourteen-year-old Sebastian Strzalkowski's parents engaged Rogge to wire their son's computer for the Internet after seeing an ad he placed as a handy man under the alias of Bill Young in a local magazine. It wasn't until a year later that young Sebastian Web-surfed his way to a shocking discovery. Perusing the FBI's Most Wanted list online, he came across a photo and description of the man he knew as Mr. Young, who by now had become a family friend, accompanied by the phrase armed and dangerous.
The teenager told his parents, and a few days after his discovery, the family broke the news to a small group of friends. According to the Associated Press, it is unclear exactly who alerted authorities, but Rogge discovered his cover was blown. He and his wife changed names and moved to another Guatemalan town, Puerto Barrios, but the news of his true identity caught up with him, the report said.
Last month, Rogge returned to the United States in custody.