Long Island. Yonkers. San Francisco. Mexico City. Serial killer Ricardo Silvio Caputo left a trail of bodies across the continent and then disappeared for 20 years _ an escape act that ended with his sudden surrender to police.
"I've been chasing him for 20 years," said San Francisco police Inspector Earl Sanders, echoing the thoughts of other frustrated investigators who finally have answers to their unresolved cases.
During his two decades of dodging arrest, Caputo, now 45, was dubbed "the most wanted man in America" by the television program America's Most Wanted. He fled the country at least three times and once escaped from immigration agents who had detained him. He got married twice, fathered six children and worked as an English teacher in Latin America.
Sanders called Caputo a "cunning, very good-looking, cool smooth-talker."
But he was haunted by long-repressed memories of his crimes and decided to turn himself in Wednesday in Manhattan, said his lawyer, Michael Kennedy, who described Caputo as a schizophrenic with psychotic personalities.
"I can at least face both the past and the future and pray for forgiveness," Caputo said in a statement released by his lawyer.
Two years ago, Caputo's "long-buried memories of his past began to re-emerge in bits and nightmares," Kennedy said. "On his own, he decided to confront his past and voluntarily surrender himself."
Caputo was in court Thursday on Long Island, where his murderous spree began in 1971 with the stabbing of his fiancee, Natalie Brown.
He has confessed to that killing, as well as the slayings of three other women whom he described as former lovers, including a psychologist who once treated him.
Caputo claims there were no slayings after 1976, but New York City police say he is a suspect in a fifth slaying in 1983.