November 17, 2019

South Jersey prison escapee is caught, 23 years later

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CAMDEN – A man who ran away from custody in South Jersey couldn’t flee his pursuers in Florida.

Apparently, 74-year-old Enrique Silva slowed down during 23 years on the loose.

Silva had been sought since May 1995, when he escaped from a work detail at Riverfront State Prison in Camden, according to the state Department of Corrections.

He vanished during the sixth year of an eight- to 20-year term for possession and distribution of narcotics. 

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The crime occurred in Camden County, according to the DOC’s website, but additional details were not immediately available.

A blurry photo of Silva as an inmate shows a youthful-looking man with a dark brown beard. It appears on a list of escapees at the DOC’s website, where only seven fugitives have been missing for longer periods.

Five of those inmates went missing in the 1970s, including Joanne Chesimard, the convicted killer of a New Jersey State Police trooper. She is believed to be in Cuba.

Investigators from DOC’s Fugitive Unit have “aggressively pursued” Silva, “conducting numerous interviews and exhausting various leads,” the agency said Monday in announcing his arrest.

“It was only a matter of time when Enrique Silva’s fun in the sun would come to an end,” it said.

According to the DOC, the search for Silva heated up in February when investigators learned the Orlando address of “a potential female acquaintance.”

The DOC investigators, now part of a regional task force of the U.S. Marshals Service, alerted their counterparts in Florida, who began surveillance of the home.

“Officers observed a grey-bearded man fitting Silva’s description walking in and out of the residence,” the statement said.

Task force members from New Jersey went to Florida, where the fugitive hunters entered the Orlando house at 10 a.m. on March 8.

The grey-bearded man ran out the back door, the account said.

“This time, Enrique Silva ran into the awaiting arms of law enforcement,” it noted.

Silva is being held in Florida, pending extradition to New Jersey.

But the long-time fugitive won’t be returning to Riverfront State Prison. His former lock-up closed in 2009 and was demolished to make way for a redevelopment project in North Camden.

Jim Walsh: @jwash_cp; 856-486-2646;

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