An escaped convict gone for nearly a week was captured before noon Monday off the Garden State Parkway in Lacey Township.
Arthur Buckel, 38, was taken into custody without incident in the woods off the parkway just north of the Forked River rest area.
Video surveillance from late Sunday night showed Buckel had been inside the rest area, where he had arranged to turn himself in to State Police, officials said.
Buckel’s family had been helping make arrangements through the New Jersey State Police, but he left before officers arrived and was seen walking down Double Trouble Road in Lacey Township just off Exit 77, Department of Corrections spokesman Syed Hassan said.
Various law-enforcement agencies were stationed inside Double Trouble State Park, which was blocked off while the search continued.
The focus was on Berkeley Township, Lacey Township Chief David Paprota told The Press of Atlantic City. But a pair of officers were stationed at the rest area as a precaution, in case he doubled back. And that is how he was captured.
While at the rest area, Lacey Detective Kevin Pearce and DOC K-9 Officer Daniel Rotundo got a tip from a passing motorist that they saw someone along the woodline around milemarker 76.5 north, Paprota said.
After the pair found Buckel, Pearce held him at gunpoint while Rotundo took him into custody.
Buckel was then taken for a medical evaluation and is being held in “a secure facility,” Hassan said. He would not name where Buckel would be held.
The Garden State Parkway north was backed up in that area for some time while the arrest was made and officers collected evidence Monday.
“Did they get him?” some motorists called out to media members who had cameras and cell phones trained on the scene.
Some drivers were using their phones to video the happening, while a few made U-turns into the rest stop to avoid the backup.
“The apprehension of inmate Buckel would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of several law-enforcement agencies involved, including various units of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, the New Jersey State Police, the United States Marshal Service and several local law-enforcement agencies,” DOC Commissioner Gary Lanigan said. “It’s through this level of cooperation and teamwork that positive results can be achieved. I am deeply grateful to each and every one of you.”
He also thanked residents for their patience through the investigation.
Many, Lanigan noted, “had to adjust their daily routines and way of life in order for the investigation to proceed.”
Buckel escaped the Bayside Prison Unit of Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Winslow Township sometime before bed check at 6 a.m. last Tuesday.
It’s a minimum-security satellite unit mostly housing those close to parole.
Buckel was just three weeks from parole eligibility when he escaped. This could add three to five years to his sentence.
He will now be questioned by the DOC's Special Investigations Division to find out how he escaped and where he has been, Hassan said.
The DOC, State Police and Lacey Township police were among the agencies involved in the overnight search.
Double Trouble State Park in Lacey Township was closed during the search Monday morning. It was reopened after Buckel’s capture.
Rich Greene, of Toms River, said he goes dog walking in the park every day, and it's usually serene.
“My mom said, ‘Make sure you don’t go down Double Trouble, the escapee is there,’” said Erin Foster, who met Greene there.
But by time the two met up, the police presence was breaking up.
Buckel was serving a three-year sentence for drugs and robbery. Previously, Buckel served 14 years for aggravated manslaughter after killing his girlfriend's infant daughter in 1996.