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Infamous Shipwreck Hunter Captured

SS Central America

<![CDATA[An infamous shipwreck hunter has been captured after two years of evading authorities. Tommy Thompson located a Gold Rush-era shipwreck, and then became involved in an extensive legal battle over the booty. Thompson fled the authorities, but was recently captured in Florida. U.S. Marshal Peter Tobin said in a statement, "Thompson was smart - perhaps one of the smartest fugitives ever sought by the U.S. Marshals." The U.S. Marshals Service also announced on January 28th that Thompson and his assistant Alison Antekeier, who is also believed to be his girlfriend, had been arrested without incident at a Hilton Hotel in their private getaway paradise of Boca Raton, Florida. They had apparently been living at the hotel for over a year, paying only in cash and using fake identities. In the late 1980s Thompson accomplished a feat that many shipwreck hunters had fantasised about for decades, having located the wreck of the SS Central America off the coast of the Carolinas, at a depth of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet). The ship sank during a hurricane in 1857, taking 21 tons of gold to the ocean floor along with its 400 passengers. Thompson and his team of researchers poured over hundreds of documents before finally pinpointing the wreck's location in 1988. Upon excavating the ship they recovered more than $50 million in gold bars and coins. A long legal battle began in 2005, when Thompson was sued by a group of his investors who claimed they had not received the share of the profits promised to them. An arrest warrant was issued for Thompson in August 2012 after he failed to appear in a series of court hearings, and a few months later a warrant was issued for Antekeier. Thompson and Antekeier had been living off of their spoils in a secluded, rented mansion in Vero Beach, Florida, until a handyman entered their residence to confront them about unpaid rent. The handyman was surprised to find that the two had disappeared and the mansion had fallen into a state of dilapidation. In the empty mansion the handyman discovered a book called, 'How to Be Invisible', as well as 12 active cell phones, straps designed to hold $10,000 and pipes used to bury money underground. Much like a pirate, Thompson had buried his 'treasure' so that it could not be found, and used it in small amounts to cover his day to day needs. Thompson and Antekeier initially appeared in court in West Palm Beach, Florida, but will need to be moved to Ohio to face the original charges brought against them. Thompson has detailed a list of maladies and conditions that in his own words, "could be very fatal" for him if he were transported to Ohio. The ailments include encephalitis, an overactive immune system and allergies. Thompson and his wife are due in court on February 4th so that a judge can determine how best to proceed with the case in light of Thompson's sickness. ]]>

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