I have been posting one article in my blog at the end of every month. It has been my personal experience or conversation with a friend, somehow something pops up. One of the main purpose is to be in touch with lot of my dear ones and you are one of them. This month I did not have any travel or conversation with any friend.
I thought of sharing someone’s life experiences, unique ones which I read, an extract from an interview with Humans of New York, without anyone’s permission. It is about an escaped prisoner living with a new identity, after 40 years….
The year was 2015, the month was January, and Cheryl Love was about to make herself tea, which was part of her morning routine. Her husband, Bobby, was still fast asleep in their bedroom when she heard a knock at the door and saw the police standing there.
Cheryl assumed the police were simply knocking on the wrong door, twelve FBI officers went straight back to the bedroom, and walked up to Bobby
Cheryl overheard the officers interrogating her husband. “What’s your name?” “Bobby Love,” her husband answered. “No, what’s your real name?” Love’s husband whispered in such a soft voice, she couldn’t catch his answer. “You’ve had a long run,” the officers responded. The next thing Cheryl knew, Bobby was in handcuffs and being rushed out the door. Cheryl begged to know what was wrong. “This goes way back, Cheryl. Back before I met you,” he called over his shoulder as he was hustled out of their home.
Walter Miller (aka Bobby Love) grew up in the sixties in North Carolina, he grew up poor, and his mother struggled to make ends meet. With eight children to care for, she barely had enough to support all of them. It wasn’t surprising that Walter began feeling neglected.
His run-ins with the law started when he attended a Sam Cooke concert “ was arrested for
After that incident he lifted purses from unlocked cars, stole government checks out of mailboxes, he ended up in juvenile detention center. Once he managed to catch the guards off guard and escaped. He reached his brother’s place in Washington D.C.
Walter and his friends conducted several successful bank robberies. However, in August 1971, they were finally caught. Their operation backfired on them when they decided to rob a bank that had a silent alarm system. The bank teller was able to use this system to alert the police without Walter or his friends noticing.
Upon leaving the bank, Walter discovered the police were waiting for him in the parking lot.
All his robberies got him a 25 year sentence. When he heard his mother had passed away, he felt devastated and vowed to turn his life around.
He hatched a plan to be transferred from a maximum-security prison to a minimum-security facility.
Walter wanted to make positive changes in his life. He became the perfect inmate and carried a good record. His good behavior earned him the privilege of being transferred to a minimum-security facility.
This new locale was a fresh start for Walter. It felt like “camp” compared to his previous facility. Though there were still towering walls and fences and guards on duty, inmates had more freedom to do pleasurable things. They were afforded calls to family and loved ones and were allowed to walk outside. Walter even had the chance to host his own radio show. At that time, he had no plans of escaping. But things were about to change
Things felt relaxed for Walter for the first time in years. He was thoroughly enjoying his time as a radio show host, and his time at the minimum security system was the best he had felt thus far. But things took a turn for the worst when a fellow inmate shouted profanities at the prison captain. The captain assumed it was Walter, and things were never the same after that.
The captain kept on calling Walter out, regularly writing infractions. The negative reports kept piling up until he was one mark away from being sent back up the hill. He didn’t want to leave, and he knew his only hope was to escape.
Because of the pile of negative reports against him, Walter was given one of the toughest (and worst) jobs in prison. He was assigned to clean roads with a few fellow inmates. He had to wake up much earlier than the rest of the prison population, ride a bus to Raleigh, and pick up trash along the road.
Tough conditions, made him plan to escape. He jumped from a bus, they were travelling in, stripped his prison clothing and ran into the woods with the police sirens fading into the distance.
A kind stranger lend Walter some money to buy a one-way ticket to New York City. As he settled into his seat, the woman beside him turned to strike up a conversation. She asked his name, he thought for a moment, and said: ‘Bobby Love.’ And that was the death of Walter Miller. Walter was about to start a brand new life.
Walter arrived in New York City in November of 1977. He was now known as Bobby Love and he couldn’t wait to start his new life. What little money he had left he spent on a motel. Pretty soon though, his money ran out. With that, Bobby was homeless and living on the streets. Even then, he was determined to make this new chapter of his life a success.
Bobby was lucky to get a new social security number and other important documents like a driver’s license. He then began hunting for work. He stayed at $8-a-night motels to keep expenses at a minimum. Little did he know something was brewing that would change his life forever.
Bobby was able to find a stable job at the cafeteria of a Baptist Medical Center in Brooklyn. There, he met a woman named Cheryl who would eventually become his wife. Their first date consisted of a movie and a concert: Purple Rain from Prince and Gladys Knight and the Pips, respectively.
1Cheryl stood out to Bobby the moment he met her. He found Cheryl innocent, the opposite of him and was attracted to her,
Bobby was tempted to build a life with her, even though he knew it would be a risky move. He was well aware that at any given moment, the police could arrive and his new life could come crashing down.
The two wed on March 30, 1985, Bobby was 34 years old while Cherly was 21. They welcomed their first child, a daughter named Jasmine, soon thereafter. A couple of years later, another daughter, Jessica, came along. Finally, 11 years later, twins Justin and Jordan were born.
Bobby worked two jobs to keep the family afloat, even going as far as cutting his sleep to just two hours a night. He was active in church, volunteered, and participated in community activities. Bobby’s life couldn’t have been happier, yet the weight of the past was pressing down on him.
Bobby was tempted to share his past with his wife, but he felt that he couldn’t risk it. Cheryl was a religious woman who would most likely try to convince him to turn himself in. He couldn’t let his new life go, but he was still communicating with some relatives back home in North Carolina.
Bobby asked his sister for a favor: to only tell his wife his secret when he dies. She, however, wanted him to come clean already. “That part of my life was buried back in North Carolina. And it wasn’t coming back,” he said. If only he knew what was coming.
“There was a piece missing,” Cheryl later said, “something was different.” Bobby would avoid having his photograph taken, kept mostly to himself, and was very cautious of strangers. Sometimes when a random stranger would come up to him and ask for directions, he “seemed spooked,” Cheryl explained.
After several years, Bobby felt more comfortable being himself and let his guard down. He went to North Carolina to attend a sibling’s funeral, and this would prove to be a crucial moment in his life. This was the moment Bobby believes this was the moment someone recognized him and tipped off the police. Soon after that event, the FBI came knocking on his door, handcuffs ready.
Her world came crashing down,more than anything, she felt hurt, deceived all those years. There was no truth in the house. In spite of it all, she knew she didn’t want to sit back and do nothing for her husband.
Bobby was finally experiencing the consequence of his actions. He was held at Rikers Island, an infamous prison in New York, awaiting extradition to North Carolina. Once there, he would serve the remaining ten years of his original sentence, plus a few extra years for his escape. Cheryl visited him and saw the suffering her husband was enduring.
“When I first visited him in prison, he broke down crying,” she remembered. “His head was in his hands, and he told me: ‘I know, you’re going to leave me.’ I told him: ‘No, Bobby Love, I married you for better or for worse. And now this is the worst.” The loyal woman was determined to do something for her husband.
Cheryl did everything she could to get her husband out of prison. She composed letters of appeal to the governor and even sent one to President Obama himself. Their children and everyone who knew the family wrote testimonials about Bobby’s life, they did not know anything about Walter Miller.
After all of this hard work, Cheryl brought a massive number of testimonials to Bobby’s parole board, so his case could be appealed and hopefully overturned. It seemed like an impossible request, but after a year behind bars, the parole board agreed to let Bobby go. He was to continue his new life, but things wouldn’t be quite the same.
Cheryl couldn’t stay angry at Bobby for long, and she eventually forgave him. Once his secret came out in the open, the burden he was carrying fell away, and their marriage improved greatly. Bobby was more relaxed, and he interacted with people more freely. He was more open to his wife and paid more attention to her. They both felt more connected than ever before.
Cheryl finally experienced what marriage was supposed to feel like. There were no secrets between the two of them. “The day he was set free, I sat him down and I asked ‘What is it? Are we the Loves? Or are we the Millers?’ And he said: ‘We Love. We Love.’”