A convicted murderer who walked away from a northern Maine prison late Thursday had escaped from prison twice before, including 37 years ago when he and another inmate were the subject of one of the state’s most infamous manhunts.
Arnold Nash, 65, formerly of Hancock County, was last seen around 8:20 p.m. Thursday in the minimum-security unit at Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston.
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A press release from the Maine Department of Corrections indicated that Nash should not be approached if seen.
Nash was convicted in 1992 of beating to death a 58-year-old man inside a cabin in North Sullivan in Hancock County in 1991. According to a story published in the Bangor Daily News, Nash had gone to the cabin to rob the victim, Wilfred Gibeault, of his veterans’ benefits. Gibeault was later found dead by his son and daughter-in-law.
Nash already had a lengthy criminal history prior to his murder conviction in 1992, dating back to 1973, when he was 19. While serving time for a larceny, he escaped from the Maine Correctional Center in Windham. It wasn’t clear how he escaped or how long it took for him to be found.
Eight years later, after he had returned to prison for felony burglary, Nash escaped again, launching one of the longest manhunts in state history, the Moody Mountain Manhunt in 1981.
Nash,and another man, Milton Wallace of Freeport, who raped and murdered an 8-year-old, were working on the farm at Maine State Prison in Warren when they fled. They were on the lam for 22 days before they were captured in Morrill, a Waldo County town about 30 miles north of the prison. They had been trying to get to Canada.
Former game warden and Waldo County Sheriff John Ford was among more than 100 public safety officials who searched for Nash and Wallace and he wrote about it in a book released in 2012. At one point, Ford wrote that the two men held him at gunpoint, but he was unharmed.
Nash returned to prison following his capture but was released some time in the late 1980s or early 1990s, before he killed Gibeault.
Nash pleaded guilty to charges of murder and robbery, avoiding a trial. As part of his plea agreement, he was sentenced to no more than 45 years in prison.
As of this year, he had served 26 years but was due to be released next December, the Department of Correction said.
He was represented by two attorneys in that case — Patrick Larson, who is now a district court judge, and Julio DeSanctis, who died in 2011.
It wasn’t clear Friday how long Nash had been at Mountain View, a former youth correctional facility turned minimum security prison in Charleston, a small town of largely farmland located 25 miles northwest of Bangor in Penobscot County.
Nash was last seen wearing blue jeans, a white t-shirt and a light blue shirt. He is 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs approximately 160 pounds and wears glasses.
Maine State Police Spokesman Stephen McCausland said game wardens, state troopers and corrections officials were searching the area for Nash. He said a helicopter has been dispatched as well.
Anyone with information about Nash’s whereabouts is advised to contact police.
This story will be updated.
Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at: