A fugitive who has been on the lamb for over 30 years following a daring escape from a Miami-Dade hospital in 1980 was finally caught Tuesday in a rural town on Florida's west coast.
Authorities say 71-year-old Ian Jackson MacDonald has spent the last three decades on the run after his 1980 arrest in Fort Lauderdale on a Canadian arrest warrant.
MacDonald, also known as "Big Mac," had been charged with trafficking up to 500 punds of marijuana from Canada to South Florida. While he was being held in the Federal Correctional Institute in South Miami-Dade County, the moustachioed, blond-haired MacDonald, 41 at the time, faked a heart attack and was transferred to Coral Reef Hospital for treatment.
While at the hospital, Big Mac was being watched by a private security officer. On June 16, 1980, he asked to be unshackled so he could take a shower. The guard obliged, then took a walk to the nurse's station. By the time the guard returned, Big Mac was gone.
MacDonald, according to a 1980 article in the Sun-Sentinel, lived the high life, sporting heavy gold jewelry and getting around in limousines and planes. His "Big Mac" nickname was scrawled on his planes, boats and even t-shirts.
But after his escape, Big Mac vanished. He stayed off the radar of law enforcement until the U.S. Marshals Service in Miami formed a Cold Case Fugitive Squad and began going through the MacDonald case file.
They claim MacDonald had obtained a fraudulent Pennsylvania driver's license in the name Jack D. Hunter. And MacDonald's wife, who hadn't cooperated with authorities following his 1980 escape, had taken up the name Angela Hunter.
Authorities tracked Big Mac to Homosassa, a small town north of Tampa, where he, as Hunter, had purchased a home in 2009.
When Marshals confronted MacDonald Tuesday afternoon, he initially gave his name as Jack Hunter. But when pressed for his true name, MacDonald gave in.
"You’re right, you got me. I have been looking over my shoulder all these years," he allegedly told Marshals. "I wondered when this day would come."
Police said MacDonald had gotten tattoos on his arms to hide the ones he'd had at the time of his '80 arrest. In a photo from Tuesday's arrest, the blond hair on MacDonald's head is now thinned out and white. The moustache gone, and rather than a Big Mac shirt he's sporting a windbreaker and eyeglasses.
Now MacDonald may still face charges in Canada, since the warrant is still active. He's being held at the Marion County jail and was expected to make a court appearance Wednesday.