Merle Unger Jr., the Hagerstown cop-killer who has made a criminal career out of escaping from prisons, was apprehended today during a high-speed police chase near Strasburg, Va., authorities said.
Unger, 41, was injured when the car he was driving to elude Virginia State Police veered out of control on an exit ramp from Interstate 81 and crashed near Strasburg, about 60 miles southwest of Washington.
Officials said Unger was listed in fair condition at Winchester Medical Center after surgery for head and facial injuries.
Unger, who killed a Hagerstown police officer in 1975, was at large for more than a week after he had escaped from the DeSoto Correctional Institution in Arcadia, Fla. He was serving 30 years for burglary, aggravated assault, grand theft and auto theft.
It was Unger's eighth prison breakout and came as he was due to be sent to Maryland by Dec. 1 to start serving a life sentence for the murder of Officer Donald R. Kline.
Virginia State Police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said Unger was spotted about 7:15 a.m. driving erratically and at a high rate of speed on I-81, a four-lane highway popular with truckers that winds into Pennsylvania.
Caldwell said Unger attempted to leave the highway on an exit ramp about 70 mph but the 1982 Lincoln Town Car he was driving overturned and landed on its roof.
Unger gave police a false identity when he was arrested, Caldwell said. Troopers recovered a loaded .32-caliber revolver from the car.
The Lincoln had been stolen near Greencastle, Pa. It had been left for repair at a garage there by a Virginia family after it broke down.