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Arkansas Inmate Captured After 32 Years On The Lam

A 1984 photo shows Steven Dishman, who was serving a seven-year sentence for theft of property and burglary convictions when he escaped on May 28, 1985. Dishman was arrested on Sunday in Springdale, Ark., by local law enforcement and state troopers.
Arkansas Department of Corrections via AP

Updated at 12:28 p.m. ET

It was May 28, 1985. Ronald Reagan was president, Wham! was tearing up the charts, and Rambo: First Blood Part II was in theaters. And 28-year-old Steven Dishman, a minimum-security inmate at the Benton Work Release Center, was reported missing from his work site in Little Rock, Ark., according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

He remained at large for 32 years, until police arrested him on Sunday, reportedly at his mother's house in Springdale, Ark. State police told NPR that they were tipped off to Dishman's whereabouts by someone who met him about five years after his escape.

"No issues at all, he didn't fight, he didn't give us any problems," said Lt. Jeff Taylor of the Springdale Police, who said that he didn't know what Dishman had been doing all these years.

Dishman's mother, Shirley Jones, told The Associated Press that her son, now 60, is "a good person" and "very creative." She said he has been living in southern Arkansas, and she had been in touch with him since about six months after his escape. Dishman isn't married and has no children, she said.

In 1984, Dishman was sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing about $1,100 from the Original Muskrat Roadhouse & Saloon in Fayetteville, Ark., according to the Democrat-Gazette. The paper says he was also convicted in the 1976 theft of a CB radio.

Dishman would have been eligible for parole in December 1987, a spokesman for the state police told the newspaper, and his original discharge date was June 28, 1991.

"He served just under six months of his 1984 conviction, so he owes the state the balance of that," Solomon Graves, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Correction, told the newspaper.

A spokesperson for the Arkansas State Police, Liz Chapman, said there is an active criminal investigation related to the escape, as well as any criminal acts Dishman may have committed since then, if any.

With Dishman's capture, Arkansas now has four men on its escapee list. One of them, Robert Woodward, escaped just last week.

His offense? Fleeing.

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Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.
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