Stabbing Suspect On The Lam

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The man police believe is responsible for a July stabbing incident, who was apprehended last week, is now a fugitive from justice after being released from the Globe jail.

Robert Squillante, 43, of Payson, was arrested after a lengthy investigation by the Payson Police Department that evolved into a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional effort.

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Robert Squillante

Squillante was indicted by a grand jury Sept. 24 on two counts of aggravated assault for stabbing and seriously wounding a man in the parking lot of the Buffalo Bar & Grill July 25.

Set to be arraigned Sept. 29 in Gila County Superior Court, Squillante was nowhere to be found. Court officials were confused as to whether he was still in custody, and if so, where.

It was then confirmed that Squillante was no longer in custody. He had posted bond Sept. 27 and was released from the Globe jail.

The Gila County Attorney's Office asked Judge Peter Cahill to issue a national warrant for Squillante. Cahill granted the request.

July stabbing

Police received a 911 call at 9:20 p.m., July 25, reporting that a man had been stabbed in the parking lot of the Buffalo Bar & Grill.

According to Det. Matt Van Camp, witnesses at the bar reported that Squillante was intoxicated and belligerent.

"He was asked to leave the bar and got upset and lunged at a waitress with a knife," Van Camp said.

Patrons escorted Squillante outside where he encountered the victim and his girlfriend.

"He was walking past the victim and, without any words, stabbed him in the chest and kept walking," Van Camp said. "He got in his vehicle and drove off."

The victim was transported to Phoenix where he underwent surgery and recovered.

Upon interviewing witnesses, Van Camp determined that no one in the Buffalo knew the suspect.

The investigation

"We received an anonymous tip on who it might be," Van Camp said. "All we got was a first name and a phone number of someone who might know him. Based on that information and other information we cannot release, we were able to come up with the last name of Squillante."

It turned out the police had a previous encounter with Squillante the summer before.

"In June of 2002, we responded as backup to a call in Star Valley," Van Camp said. "Squillante had kidnapped a person at knifepoint at the Lamplighter Mobile Home Park and had taken him hostage."

Officers negotiated with Squillante and he released the hostage 45 minutes later.

"He, then, was threatening suicide with the knife and somehow officers were able to distract him, tackle him and get him into custody," Van Camp said.

Van Camp said his past history, including another charge in Yavapai County of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, was consistent with the knife stabbing at the bar.

"He was on probation for the incident in Star Valley," Van Camp said. "We got a photo of him and compiled a six-person photo lineup."

Two of the witnesses positively identified Squillante.

"Plus, we ran a vehicle check and it came back to a vehicle that he owned that was one digit off from the license plate witnesses had given us -- they thought it had a 5 and it had an S," Van Camp said. "The vehicle also matched the physical description. At that point, we felt we had identified our stabber."

The capture

The probation department in Payson revoked Squillante's probation once police believed Squillante was responsible for the stabbing, and a felony warrant was issued for his arrest.

Police then discovered Squillante had since moved to Scottsdale.

"The suspect called his probation officer because he had heard, through the grapevine, that the Payson police were looking for him," Van Camp said. "He told his probation officer that he was not coming back to Payson because the cops were looking for him and he won't go back to jail ever again."

Police were able to locate Squillante with assistance from probation.

"He requested a transfer of his probation to Maricopa County," Van Camp said. "They authorized the transfer and he went and spoke to his new probation officer and provided him with his new address."

July 24, a grand jury indicted Squillante and police obtained an arrest warrant.

"In the meantime, while we were doing this, Mr. Squillante decided he wanted to move to Munds Park in Coconino County, and went to see his probation officer in Phoenix," Van Camp said. "They were aware of his violent history and tendencies as well as the warrant we were getting."

Van Camp said that Squillante "went crazy" in their office and they arrested him.

"It's a good thing," Van Camp said. "When they were taking him to jail he told the officers that arrested him that if he had known he was being arrested, he would have brought a gun and killed them all."

Van Camp said the police may have never caught Squillante if it hadn't been for the assistance from the public.

On the loose

Squillante was initially taken to the Madison Street Jail and subsequently transferred to the Globe Jail. His arraignment was scheduled for Monday morning in Payson.

He was able to post the required 10 percent of his $10,000 bond on Saturday, and walked out of jail.

Squillante is now considered a fugitive from justice.

Anyone with information on Squillante is asked to call the Payson Police Department at (928) 474-5177.

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