'Robinson Crusoe' killer recaptured after 16 years in caves

A murderer on the run, who spent 16 years hiding in caves around his home village in northern Portugal, has been recaptured looking "like Robinson Crusoe", police said yesterday.

Manuel Cruz, 54, had a deep tan and a long beard when he was arrested in the forested hills where he had once been a shepherd, Inspector Carlos Gomes, leader of a 12-officer search team who mounted "Operation Cro-Magnon", said. "He wasn't very strong but he wasn't in very bad shape. He was dirty and smelly."

Cruz had a guard dog and a gun with him but he did not open fire on police who approached on foot, Insp Gomes said. "His initial reaction was very aggressive but he came peacefully once we had him."

Cruz had been serving a 10-year sentence for murder when he fled into the mountains during a prison outing to a nearby village in 1993. He had been convicted after an argument over goats with a local woman. Cruz had pushed her, she hit her head on stony ground, and died.

The fugitive had been hiding in caves and hollowed-out banks of earth in "very hilly, very hostile terrain" surrounding Anisso, about 240 miles north of Lisbon. The village has a population of 312, according to the local council's website. Manuel Ramalho Cruz, the president of the Anisso parish council, and no relation to the arrested man, said residents had tipped off police several years ago that Cruz was hiding in the area. On at least one occasion he escaped a police operation to catch him, Mr Ramalho Cruz said. Police did not immediately comment on that.

Family members and local people provided Cruz with food and he had a dog that alerted him when people approached, Mr Ramalho Cruz said. "He was a quiet person; he wouldn't hurt anyone. People liked him," he added. "He told people he was afraid of prison and wouldn't go back there."

Cruz has been taken to a prison in another town to serve the last seven years of his sentence. Police would not say whether the sentence was likely to be increased because of his escape. Apart from the dog, Cruz had only a battery-powered radio for company, and cut long grass to make his bed, according to local media.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water