Joel O’Keefe, the felon whose escape from police 24 years ago drew national attention to the region, was jailed Wednesday for allegedly violating parole.
O’Keefe, 57, was sent to Washington County Jail late Wednesday afternoon on a parole violation charge amid complaints from women in the Glens Falls and Saratoga Springs areas about his activities in approaching them, authorities said.
He was released from state prison in March after serving 23 years for escaping police, burglary and numerous crimes in prison. Police were concerned about his release, as he has long been considered a person-of-interest in an unsolved double homicide from the 1980s, and he has been wearing an electronic monitoring anklet that allowed police and parole to watch his travels via GPS equipment.
Glens Falls Police Detective Lt. Peter Casertino said a man later identified as O’Keefe was the subject of a number of complaints from women about him “acting suspiciously” when approaching them in downtown Glens Falls in recent months, attempting to start relationships.
“We have investigated the ones that were reported to us, and at this time we don’t have any crimes committed,” he said.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office also had complaints about him from women at Queensbury businesses who indicated he approached them, but none that led to charges, Warren County sheriff’s Lt. Steve Stockdale said.
The state Department of Corrections & Community Supervision released a statement Thursday that indicated O’Keefe violated at least two conditions of parole.
“Parolee Joel O’Keefe was arrested for violating the conditions of his parole, including failing to notify his parole officer of his activities and inappropriate behavior towards several individuals he encountered in public. O’Keefe will now go through a hearing process to determine if any disciplinary action, up to the revocation of his community supervision, is warranted. If O’Keefe is restored to parole, the department has issued new special conditions to restrict his movement and mitigate any risk to public safety,” the statement reads
He has been living in a cabin on Hidden Valley Road in Argyle, a private dirt road off county Route 43.
No new criminal charges have been filed, and it was unclear late Wednesday what conditions of parole he allegedly violated.
O’Keefe’s two-week flight from State Police in 1994 gained national media attention before he was caught at a sandwich store in Bennington, Vermont.
He has long been a person of interest in the 1988 killings of Fredrich J. Pauling, 56, and James Checkush, 37, who were slain near Pauling’s part-time residence on Dick Hill Road in Hartford. One was shot, the other bludgeoned. O’Keefe, who did some contracting work for Checkush, has said he was not involved in the killings.