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PARIS (Reuters) - A French murder suspect who caused a media sensation after escaping from prison in a cardboard box and evading a huge manhunt during weeks on the run, has been recaptured, the interior ministry said Friday.
Jean-Pierre Treiber, suspected of the murder of two women in 2004, slipped out of prison on September 8 by shutting himself into a box that he had made in a prison workshop. The box was loaded onto a delivery van that took him away from prison.
He eluded police for more than two months, writing to the media to proclaim his innocence and sending accounts of his days in a woodland hideout to a woman friend.
He was arrested Friday in Melun, near Paris, with three other people who are suspected of helping him during his flight, authorities said.
Treiber's case was followed with keen interest in the French press, which published grainy surveillance photographs of the fugitive walking untroubled in the streets of a small town near Paris as well as extracts of the letters to his friend.
"At the moment, I am in a very beautiful forest, I think there is every type of tree here and it's very beautiful. It's really nice, this mist with the deer and wild boar," he wrote.
But Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said the arrest revealed a less romantic reality.
"He was obviously assisted," he told RTL radio. "But after trying to spread the idea that he was in the woods eating roots, everyone now knows he was in a flat in Melun."
Friday's arrest, which received heavy media coverage, follows the surrender of Toni Musulin, a security van driver who disappeared with 16 million euros and who like Treiber became a minor media celebrity during his time on the run.
(Reporting by Thierry Leveque; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Reuters