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A Nebraska murderer who walked away from his prison work-release job in Lincoln two weeks ago was living on the streets in Las Vegas before U.S. marshals arrested him there Thursday night, according to an agency news release.

Interviews with his associates and analysis of Anthony Gafford's habits and past prison visitors helped the Metro Fugitive Task Force in Lincoln lead the Marshals Service in Las Vegas to him, said Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal William W. Iverson, who oversees the task force.

Gafford was contacted on the street in eastern Las Vegas and taken into custody by marshals and Las Vegas police without incident, he said.

The 40-year-old is serving a 30- to 50-year prison sentence for fatally shooting Jacque Holbert in September 1997. Prison records say Gafford’s scheduled release date is Dec. 11, 2022.

He had been on parole twice, a Nebraska prisons spokeswoman said, but had it revoked. Another parole hearing was scheduled for April.

Gafford has been at the Community Corrections Center-Lincoln, a minimum-security prison where inmates have work-release assignments and sleep in dormitory settings.

At the end of 2018, the prison's population averaged nearly 480 inmates. After being assigned there and working a job under prison staff supervision, inmates can look for a job in the Lincoln area, according to prison staff.

Once they get a work-release job, inmates are responsible for their own transportation to and from work and must adhere to a pre-approved schedule, are responsible for their own clothing and personal items, and must pay $12 a day for room and board, according to the prison's website.

In Gafford's case, he left the prison at about 6 a.m. Jan. 26, the day he absconded.

He clocked out of his job at Smithfield Foods just before 3:30 p.m. and never returned, being put on escape status nearly five hours later.

Corrections officials initially notified law enforcement, but no formal public notices were given by the department for three days.

Prisons officials said they followed policy in disseminating news of the escape, but Corrections Director Scott Frakes said his department is rethinking its policies.

Gafford remains at the Clark County jail, pending his extradition to Nebraska.

Charged with escape in Lancaster County Court, Gafford faces up to four years in prison.

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Reporter

Riley Johnson reports on breaking news and public safety issues in Lincoln and southeast Nebraska.

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