Inmate who escaped prison 37 years ago arrested in Laurel County

Billy Burchfield.
Billy Burchfield.

Police have arrested a fugitive who lived in Laurel County under an assumed name for 37 years after escaping from prison in Georgia, according to county Sheriff John Root.

Billy J. Burchfield, 67, was serving a 16-year sentence for manslaughter when he escaped in 1979, Root said in a news release.

Burchfield moved to Laurel County and assumed the name of his cousin, Harold Arnold, who had died, Root said.

Burchfield had lived without incident in the county since, said Gilbert Acciardo, spokesman for Root’s office.

Police in Georgia working on the decades-old case developed some information on Burchfield’s whereabouts and contacted Root’s office.

Detectives Jason Back and James Sizemore went to Burchfield’s house on East Laurel road about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, and he agreed to be fingerprinted.

Local authorities sent the fingerprints to the Kentucky State Police and the FBI. Both agencies confirmed that the prints matched Burchfield’s.

Burchfield was being held Thursday without bond in the Laurel County jail. Georgia authorities plan to seek his extradition.