AUGUSTA, Ga. – Stephen Stanko sat in his suit and tie, blending in with the lunchtime crowd at the mall. Everyone seemed oblivious that the clean-cut man munching on a chicken sandwich was an ex-con wanted for killing his live-in girlfriend and raping a teenager.
Then Stanko walked out the door — and into the hands of police and federal agents.
"He seemed calm, like nothing was wrong," said Chris Ainsworth, a supervisor at the Atlanta Bread Co. (search) who served Stanko.
Stanko's arrest Tuesday came a day after authorities launched a nationwide manhunt for the convicted kidnapper and only hours after federal investigators offered a $10,000 reward for his capture.
An appearance in federal court had been scheduled for Wednesday morning. But WIS-TV in Columbia reported that the hearing was canceled and Stanko would have an extradition hearing at the Richmond County, Ga., jail where he is being held.
A message left with a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service (search) in Columbia, S.C., was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Stanko, 37, faces two counts of murder and one count of rape in South Carolina, along with a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, officials said.
Stanko was unarmed and taken into custody without incident after a tip led investigators to the shopping center near Interstate 20, U.S. Marshal Deputy Tim Stec said Tuesday.
Ainsworth, the restaurant supervisor, and assistant store manager Marcie Crown said Stanko's hair looked darker than it did in a picture they had seen on the news.
"He did not look dangerous at all," Crown said. "It's very freaky."
Stanko is suspected of killing Laura Ling, 43, a librarian who lived with him outside Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Henry Lee Turner, 74.
Ling's body was discovered Friday after a teenage girl in the home called authorities and said she had been raped by Stanko, police said. Turner was found Saturday shot to death in his home.
Turner's 1996 Mazda truck was missing and Stanko had been driving the truck at the time of his capture, said Lt. Andy Christenson of the Horry County (search), S.C., police.
Stanko was released from prison nearly a year ago after serving most of a 10-year sentence for kidnapping. While in prison, he co-wrote a book titled "Living in Prison: A History of the Correctional System With an Insider's View" with the help of two criminology professors.
Stanko detailed the misery of prison life and how survival meant being the best con.
"Irony is policy in a system that is designed to punish individuals for wrongful deeds but acts as a learning center to advance the criminal arts," Stanko wrote.
Stanko also shared his anxiety of being labeled "a convicted felon" after his release. "What I fear most now is that I may carry some of this total institution back into society with me," he wrote.
Authorities said Stanko met Ling and Turner at the library where the ex-convict said he was researching a book.
A week ago, Stanko was fired after working for a month as a salesman for Stucco Supply in Myrtle Beach. General manager Jeff Kendall said Stanko was unreliable and brought in few sales.