Fugitive Austin Craley arrested at York Galleria

John Joyce

Austin Craley, the 20-year-old York fugitive on the run since April 15 and wanted on child-sex charges for a relationship he allegedly had with an underage girl, was in custody Tuesday night after Springettsbury police received a tip that he was spotted at York Galleria.

Craley was arraigned Wednesday in Magisterial District Court where he was denied bail.

Police responded to the Galleria and found Craley sitting on a bench inside the mall. He got up to walk away from the officers approaching him and wound up face-to-face with officers coming at him from the other direction, Springettsbury Township Police Chief Dan Stump said.

Austin Craley, who is facing child-sex charges, was armed when he went to the home of his 14-year-old alleged victim Friday morning. It prompted a six-hour manhunt in York Township that included a helicopter search, police said.

Craley had three guns in his backpack at the time of his arrest, police said.

"We received a tip someone recognized him at the mall," Stump said. "Our guys went in, they engaged him in a conversation, and he admitted who he was."

The officers took Craley into custody without incident.

"He was completely compliant," Stump said.

After a brief interview, Springettsbury police turned Craley over to York Area Regional Police to face charges of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats, attempted burglary and retaliation against a witness or victim. Those charges are in addition to the child-sex charges Craley already faces for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a girl who was 13 at the time. Craley was 19 when the relationship began, according to charging documents.

Stump said Craley will also face charges for the weapons he was carrying at the time of his arrest. He confirmed the three firearms Craley's backpack were those reported stolen by his father last month.

Police: Fugitive on child-sex charges stole, used dad's guns

Fugitive:The hunt for Craley began when he failed to show for a pre-trial conference April 13 in York County Court of Common Pleas in the child-sex case. Craley was supposed to have a bail hearing the same day after a judge ordered his $15,000 bail revoked.

An arrest warrant was issued, but two days later Craley showed up at the York Township home of his alleged victim at 6 a.m., brandishing a gun and making threats, according to charging documents. Police launched into a fruitless six-hour manhunt as a result and, after searching for him at his parents' home in the Waterford apartment complex, learned he might be in possession of three guns — a Ruger .40-caliber, a Ruger 9 mm and a Sig Sauer .380 — missing from his father's small arms collection.

Local law enforcement has been on the lookout for Craley ever since.

It was not yet clear where he had been hiding out over the past few weeks before turning up at York Galleria Tuesday night. Stump said he expected York Area detectives would be eager to question Craley, just as his men had after he was taken into custody.

Police: Gun-toting fugitive prompted 6-hour York Twp. manhunt

Tip: As for the arrest, Stump said it went as smoothly as it could go. He credited the citizen who recognized Craley from his images disseminated in the media with making the arrest possible.

"This was one person, being observant and being willing to make the call," Stump said. "It's tremendous. Any time people can help us out like that, it takes a community."

York Dispatch reporter Liz Evans-Scolforo contributed to this report.

— Reach John Joyce atjjoyce2@yorkdispatch.comor on Twitter at  @JohnJoyceYD.