Gary Charles Evans
(October 7, 1954-August 14, 1998) was a confessed serial killer in and
around the Capital District of Upstate New York.
His penchant for stealing antiques
and his multiple escapes from custody — including one that ended in his
death — made him headline news in the area on numerous occasions.
Gary Evans grew up in Troy, New York,
where he was physically and emotionally abused by both parents until
they divorced in 1968. His mother attempted suicide on numerous
occasions. Likely at his mother's behest, Evans began stealing at a
young age. He also reportedly abused and killed neighborhood pets, which
is widely considered an early sign of antisocial personality disorder.
His mother eventually married and
divorced four times before coming out as a lesbian. She died in February
1983 from exposure after falling down unconscious in the snow outside a
bar. Soon after his parents divorced, Evans left home and was often
homeless, stealing from local drug dealers to survive. He spent several
months in a county jail for breaking into a house in 1970.
In the mid-1970s, Evans shared an
apartment with two old neighborhood friends, Michael Falco and Timothy
Rysedorph. He also stepped up his thievery by studying antiques and
jewelry. Evans became adept at speaking with antiques dealers and
pretending to be a dealer himself, all the while casing for ways that he
could break in to the establishments unnoticed while Falco or Rysedorph
On one occasion, he was stymied by a
shop's alarm system and resorted to tunneling under the outside wall to
get in undetected. Evans was convicted of 15 antiques-related felonies
during his life.
time and escape
Evans's lengthy prison record started
on January 13, 1977, when he was sentenced for a burglary in Essex
County, New York and sent to Clinton Correctional Facility. He was
transferred to Great Meadow Correctional Facility and paroled on March
31, 1980, but was quickly back in jail for possession of stolen property
while on parole.
His name first came to public light
on June 12, 1980, when he escaped over the wall of the Rensselaer County
jail. He fled to the Troy Public Library, where police apprehended him
on the outside ledge while onlookers cheered. Evans was treated as an
extreme escape risk from then on, and was caught planning escapes on
more than one occasion.
With the additional escape
conviction, Evans was sentenced on September 11, 1980, to Clinton
Correctional and paroled from Attica Correctional Facility on December
29, 1982. He was arrested twice more the following spring and was in
county jail until his early release on March 31, 1984.
Evans immediately resumed his
antiques and jewelry scams with his partners. On February 16, 1985,
Evans and Falco burglarized a flea market in East Greenbush, New York.
About a week later, Falco became the first known associate of Evans to
disappear. Evans convinced local criminals and law enforcement that
Falco had fled to California.
Only 13 years later would he reveal
that he had shot Falco to death, rolled his body in a sleeping bag and
disposed of it in a swamp near his sister's home in Lake Worth, Florida.
Evans recounted that he thought Falco had stolen merchandise from him
and that Falco would report him to the authorities.
Evans returned from Florida to Troy
in April and, on April 21, 1985, stole $12,000 from local drug dealers.
That led to a high-speed police pursuit through Cohoes and landed Evans
back in custody. He was sentenced to another 2-to-4 years in Sing Sing
the following July.
During his time in Sing Sing, Evans
became friends with fellow inmate and infamous "Son of Sam" serial
killer, David Berkowitz. Evans and Berkowitz lifted weights together and
exchanged letters while in solitary confinement — letters which Evans
sent to acquaintances as keepsakes. With police unaware that Falco was
dead, let alone that Evans had killed him, Evans was paroled on March 1,
Soon after his release from Sing
Sing, Evans started working with another neighborhood thief, Damien
Cuomo (born September 10, 1961). Evans and Cuomo targeted a coin and
jewelry store owned by 63-year-old Douglas J. Berry in Watertown, New
York, several hours drive away from the Capital District. On September
8, Evans and Cuomo broke into Berry's store and, when Berry awoke in the
back room, Evans shot him to death.
On December 27, 1989, less than four
months after Berry's murder, Cuomo left his apartment with Evans and was
never seen alive again. Not until his 1998 confessions did Evans recount
that he shot Cuomo to death and buried his body nearby soon after they
left Cuomo's apartment. Similar to Falco four years prior, Evans
believed Cuomo had been stealing from him and that he would turn him
over to police.
Evans convinced Cuomo's girlfriend
(and mother of his child) that Cuomo had abandoned them and fled the
area voluntarily. Barely a month later, Evans started a sexual
relationship with her. Over the next several years, Evans spent much of
his time with Cuomo's girlfriend and daughter, who had no idea that he
was responsible for Cuomo's death.
In October 1991, Evans spent two
weeks on the roof of a building in Little Falls, New York casing a coin
and jewelry shop on the first floor which was owned by Gregory Jouben,
On October 17, 1991, Evans walked
into Jouben's shop, asked him to price a piece of merchandise, and then
shot him to death. The small community in sparsely populated Herkimer
County was outraged by one of the few murders of the year in the area.
In 1993, Evans stole over 800
antiques from a group shop in Quechee, Vermont. Evans used an engine
crane to steal a thousand-pound bench out of an Albany cemetery, but he
was arrested when his fence became nervous and turned him in. In early
1994, Evans agreed to assist the authorities by obtaining information on
Jeffrey Williams, who was implicated in the high-profile murder of his
girlfriend, Karolyn Lonczak.
When Williams finally admitted his
role, Evans was released on February 12, 1994, with police still unaware
that Evans himself had killed at least four people at that point.
Police needed Evans to stay clean
before testifying against Williams. Instead, on March 20, 1994, Evans
stole a valuable first American edition of the Havell of London printing
of John James Audubon's Birds of America out of a library in
When Evans tried to sell the book
through a prison inmate, he was turned in and wound up in federal
prison. (The recovered book sold for over $300,000 at an auction in
2002.) With the shortened sentence he received for returning the book,
Evans was released on June 6, 1996.
After his 1996 release, Evans
reunited with Rysedorph, and they continued committing burglaries. In
January 1997, a shop in Great Barrington, Massachusetts was burglarized
of $80,000 in merchandise. The following July, Evans sold antique
jewelry in Albany which police later linked to the Great Barrington
leading to the end
Evans jumped probation on October 3,
1997. Early the following morning, Rysedorph made a phone call to his
wife and was never heard from again. That morning, Evans shot Rysedorph
to death when he had his back turned and then dismembered him with a
Evans had suspected Rysedorph of
stealing from him and also claimed Rysedorph tricked him into thinking
Falco had stolen from him 13 years earlier. The timing of Evans jumping
probation and Rysedorph's disappearance was too coincidental causing
authorities to suspect that Rysedorph was dead and that Evans was
They began a nationwide manhunt that
lasted almost eight months. With the aid of Damien Cuomo's girlfriend,
they finally caught up with Evans. On May 27, 1998, Evans was arrested
without incident near St. Johnsbury, Vermont, near where he was living
in a tent as a survivalist.
In reality, Evans had committed the
perfect murders, with three of his victims unrecovered and two others a
fair distance away, with no apparent connection to him. On June 18,
1998, although police had little hope of bringing murder charges, Evans
surprised them by confessing to the murders of Falco, Cuomo and
He aided police in recovering all
three bodies, including Falco's in Florida. Later, Evans also admitted
to the murders of Berry and Jouben. The local news was abuzz with
reports that their most notorious thief and burglar was actually a
Evans was indicted on eight counts of
murder in Rensselaer County, New York on August 12, 1998, for the deaths
of Falco, Cuomo and Rysedorph. Because Rysedorph's murder involved him
witnessing Falco's murder and because it occurred after New York
reinstated the death penalty in 1995, Evans was eligible to be executed
for his crimes. The following day, he was arraigned on another count of
murder in Little Falls for Jouben's death.
The day after his Little Falls
arraignment, Evans was being transported from Rensselaer County to an
Albany court. Unbeknownst to authorities, Evans had a handcuff key
shoved deep into his sinus cavity and managed to free his hands while in
the police van. When they reached the Troy-Menands Bridge, Evans
suddenly kicked out the side window of the vehicle, jumped out and
When police cornered him, Evans
leaped off the bridge and plunged to his death into the shallows of the
Hudson River over 60 feet below. When authorities retrieved his body,
they found the handcuff key up his nose and a razor blade taped to his
Phelps. Every Move You Make. Pinnacle Books, 2005-06-05.
SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE: CE
MO: Jewel thief; killed three
accomplices and two robbery victims
DISPOSITION: Died in leap from
police van, attempting escape en route to trial, Aug. 14, 1998