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Alleged fugitive claims to be man who died in 1983

WILMINGTON, N.C. — An accused fugitive who police say escaped while serving a 20-year
prison sentence for drug trafficking claims he’s a man who died in Virginia nearly three decades ago.

The man who North Carolina authorities say is Charles Sparks, 69, drove off from a Florida prison in a car he had been cleaning as part of an inmate work crew, the StarNews of Wilmington reported Sunday.

However, the man told the newspaper during a jailhouse interview that he is William Bolyn Garrett of Danville, Va. Police and Garrett’s family say the man died in 1983 at age 43.

Sparks is being held at the New Hanover County Jail and is charged with financial identity
fraud, false pretense and being a fugitive. He said he had been living on a boat somewhere in South Carolina before he was arrested last week at a Wilmington Social Security office. He had applied for benefits to pay medical bills after suffering a heart attack about five months ago.

A Social Security employee notified police after a supervisor confirmed that Bill Garrett was dead. Investigators identified Sparks through fingerprints in an FBI database.

Sparks had served about two years of his sentence when he escaped while working on a car wash detail, according to a Florida Department of Corrections news release. Sparks told the paper he was born and raised in the Virginia mountains and has been remodeling homes and businesses for about three decades. He said he’s lived in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.