Operator of Wyoming shelter shocked at Gilford arrest

Posted8/7/2010 12:01 AM

The helpful, clean-cut man who checked in at her Wyoming homeless shelter about a week ago was the last person Georgia Ligori expected to be the subject of a nationwide manhunt.

Ligori watched in shock late Thursday as that manhunt concluded inside the Good Samaritan Mission in Jackson.


"The officer tapped him on the shoulder and asked, "Are you Eric Gilford?'" said Ligori, the shelter's director of administration. "He stood up and said, 'Yes.' He did not try to run. He didn't deny who he was."

Ligori said Gilford arrived July 30 using the alias Brian Woolman. Gilford did not have identification, she said. He was with another young man, who authorities do not believe was aware of Gilford's actual identity.

"He told me he and his buddy were just traveling and looking for summer employment," said Ligori, who was so taken with Gilford that she offered him a shelter job. "He said he could make a commitment to stay through November."

Acting on a tip, 10 police officers closed in on Gilford as he sat in the shelter's dining room snacking on a piece of cake. Two dozen other shelter residents witnessed the arrest, Ligori said. Police said an unarmed Gilford did not resist.

Gilford had helped serve daily breakfast at the shelter and assisted with cleanup efforts. Ligori, a Chicago native, said Gilford told her he was from Arlington Heights. She said he had been out looking for a job this week and likely slipped up while providing personal information.

"He looks like a good, clean-cut college kid," Ligori said. "He was very polite, very helpful. Whatever I asked him to do, he would do. He was a model resident. There was absolutely no indication of any improprieties at all. I'm absolutely shocked."