KOKOMO, Ind. -- Upon hearing the news of Roger Perdue being an escaped fugitive from Ohio, Jennifer Mayfield was shocked.
“I worked for him and took care of his wife,” Mayfield said Friday after reading about Perdue.
Perdue lived with his wife in a small, one-story home on South Elizabeth Street when he was arrested Dec. 12.
According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, Perdue walked away from a work detail at the London Correctional Institution in Ohio 22 years ago and eluded authorities until he was recently discovered living with his wife in Kokomo.
Mayfield said she’s known Perdue for about three months and cared for his wife, Carolyn.
“She has brain cancer and can’t be by herself,” said Mayfield. “He said he’s been in Kokomo for five years."
Mayfield said Perdue owned his own business, B & C Masonry, but no listing was found in the phone book or with the Indiana Secretary of State.
“They were getting ready to leave,” Mayfield said. “She was in a nursing home for about a year and as soon as she got better, they were going to move.”
Mayfield also said Perdue never went by any other name, as far as she knew.
“He told me his name was Roger Perdue and everybody called him Buddy,” she said.
“I talked to his wife all the time and I met his two sisters. They never said anything about him being in prison or escaping,” she said.
“It really shocked me when I read the newspaper. He was a really a nice guy,” she continued. “He would give the shirt off his back if you needed it. This kind of blows my mind.”
The Ohio Highway Patrol reported that Perdue, 71, was arrested Dec. 12 in Kokomo after authorities received a tip on his whereabouts.
He was five months into a 5 1/2-year sentence for grand theft when he escaped custody in March 1992, Ohio police reported.
Perdue was listed on the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Most Wanted list. Troopers worked with the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force on the investigation. They concluded he was living with his wife under an assumed identity.
Mayfield said she did think it was strange that he didn’t have a driver’s license or bank account and refused to get his license plate renewed.
“A lot of stuff makes sense now,” she said.
“When he talked to his wife’s doctor, he said he was her brother.”
She also said one time someone stole his wife’s medicine and Perdue refused to report it to police.
“I told him I was going to report it to police and he got upset and wouldn’t let me report it. And recently, he stopped paying us and wouldn’t return our phone calls,” she added.
Mayfield said her main concern now is the welfare of his wife.
“She’s the sweetest old lady,” she said. “I’m worried about her being by herself.”
When contacted, Perdue’s brother-in-law said Carolyn is in a local nursing home. He wished not to be named or to comment about Perdue being a fugitive.
When confronted by Indiana State Police and Kokomo Police officers at the home on South Elizabeth Street last week, Perdue allegedly revealed his identity and turned himself over to police.
He spent six days at the Howard County jail and was transported back to Ohio Thursday, jail records show.