Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. detectives arrested a UCSB biological sciences technician last Friday on suspicions that he was actually a prisoner who escaped 36 years ago from a Michigan correctional facility.
Early last week the Sheriff’s Dept. Criminal Investigation Division received an anonymous tip regarding a subject who had escaped from G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in June 1972. According to Sheriff’s Dept. spokesman Sgt. Alex Tipolt, the caller said the 61-year-old Roger Crona had allegedly moved to the Goleta area several years ago and assumed the name Jason Von Straussenburg.
Paul Desruisseaux, UCSB associate vice chancellor for public affairs, said that he was unsure of Von Straussenburg’s history and of his specific duties on campus, but did confirm that he was employed at the university.
“He was a developmental technician in biological sciences,” Desruisseaux said. “It’s a staff position. I don’t know exactly what he did.”
According to the Michigan Dept. of Corrections Web site, Crona was one of their most wanted escapees and was originally jailed — three and a half decades ago — for altered registration, altered license plates and possession of a forged registration. Though Crona was originally convicted and sentenced to a minimum of two years and six months in jail, he had allegedly escaped Michigan prison only three months into his sentence, according to the Dept. of Corrections Web site.
Tipolt said that the anonymous tip was key in tracking Von Straussenburg down, but admitted that he did not know how the alleged escapee had managed to avoid detection for so long.
“It’s anybody’s guess,” Tipolt said. “We didn’t talk to him. We don’t know how he eluded everybody.”
Von Straussenburg was arrested without incident after a forensic match was found between him and the identity of Crona, Tipolt said. Though Von Straussenburg is currently booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, Tipolt said it is up to the Michigan corrections system to retry him.
“He’s still in custody in our jail and he’s awaiting extradition,” Tipolt said. “Michigan Dept. of Corrections has 10 days to come pick him up.”