Teen Uses Computer to Haul In Most-Wanted Fugitive
ANTIGUA, Guatemala (AP) _ A year ago that nice Mr. Young wired Sebastian Strzalkowski’s computer for the Internet.
Last month the good deed was Young’s ticket to Miami. In handcuffs.
It was the first time that a listing on the FBI’s page on the World Wide Web led to an arrest.
Sebastian, a 14-year-old computer buff, found Mr. Young’s picture on the FBI’s Web page three weeks after the family had signed up with an Internet service newly offered in this colonial town 20 miles west of Guatemala City.
Sebastian, who plays guitar in a small garage band and dabbles in computerized music, didn’t know what to do when he saw the family friend’s picture staring at him from the computer screen.
The name attached to the picture was that of Leslie Isben Rogge, wanted for a string of American bank heists.
The kindly 56-year-old man the community here knew as Bill Young had been on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for six years.
Rogge, married 13 years to Anne Young, whose real name was Judy Kay Wilson, had lived undetected for almost four years in Antigua, a picturesque town whose indigenous market and colonial architecture draws floods of tourists each year.
Guatemala, a Central American nation shadowed by 35 years of civil war, appeared to offer Rogge and his spouse a perfect hiding place. The couple was well liked and blended easily into the expatriate community. About 2,000 Americans live in or near Antigua.
``He was kind and reminded me of an uncle. A nice guy who did not chat too much. He had a tattoo, which he said he got in the Navy,″ Sebastian remembered.
His family knew Rogge and his wife fairly well. Rogge often repaired their household appliances, including a VCR, which he gave Sebastian as a present. He drove them to a neighboring town to pick out Zorra, Sebastian’s German Shepherd puppy.
``He was the type of person willing to give rather than ask for something,″ recalled Sebastian’s mother, Terry Kovick.
Rogge’s wife kept accounts for Sebastian’s parents, who run an English-language magazine. Rogge advertised himself in the magazine as a handyman.
A year ago Rogge laid a telephone extension line for Sebastian’s computer modem. When Internet service came to Antigua, so did the FBI’s Most Wanted List.
``He was a great guy, he did all sorts of stuff for me, but if you do something wrong and it catches up with you then you have to pay for it,″ Sebastian said.
On May 18, as the local man-hunt closed in on him, Rogge contacted his American attorney, who told the FBI and embassy authorities that Rogge would turn himself in.
``He knew that he was being looked for and feared for his life at the hands of the Guatemalan police,″ U.S. Embassy spokesman John Roney said. The FBI brought Rogge to Miami. Anne was deported as an indigent.
Convictions against Rogge included bank robberies, transporting stolen vehicles and weapons, drug and check charges. He had been serving a 25-year sentence in Florida, when he was extradited to Idaho in 1985 to stand trial for another bank robbery.
With the help of a prison guard, Rogge walked out of his Idaho jail, leaving behind a note which read ``Gone fishing.″
``Our first reaction was that this was unbelievable. But within seconds issues of loyalty to friends, to our country and breaking the law if we did nothing just came up,″ Mrs. Kovick said.
At a small gathering two days after the Internet discovery, the family dropped the news to friends. It is not clear who, if anyone, reported the discovery to American authorities, but the news traveled.
The Rogges had left Antigua last November, telling friends they were returning to the United States. Instead, they changed names again and went to Puerto Barrios on Guatemala’s Caribbean Coast.
Because of close ties between the American communities in both towns, Rogge learned his cover was gone.
Now when Sebastian calls up the FBI’s Internet listing he sees Rogge’s photograph branded with red capital letters _ CAPTURED.
``I could feel a little responsible for him going to prison, but I think that it was his choice,″ Sebastian said.
EDITOR’S NOTE _ The Internet address for the FBI’s Most Wanted list is: http://www.fbi.gov/toplist.htm