ATLANTA, Jan. 25 -- A Wisconsin fugitive from justice was being held by authorities in Atlanta Thursday after his exploits were televised on an episode of 'Unsolved Mysteries.' Michael J. Eschweiler was accused in civil suits of defrauding clients of more than $800,000 in a home-building scam while living in Milwaukee with his wife, Pabst Brewing Co. heiress Brett Pabst.
Eschweiler, 59, surrendered to Atlanta police Tuesday after his story aired Friday on NBC. 'Our speculation is that he knew people had seen him on television and we were going to get him,' said Pat Johnson, supervisor of the FBI's Violent Crimes/Fugitive Squad in Atlanta. 'If he hadn't turned himself in, we were right behind him,' Johnson said. Authorities said Eschweiler built luxury houses while living in a Milwaukee lakefront mansion. He vanished in 1994, leaving at least 10 unfinished houses and many unpaid bills. Eschweiler resurfaced in Atlanta, working at a floor installation company under his real name. Eschweiler was being held at the Fulton County Jail pending extradition to Milwaukee, where he is expected to face several criminal charges, including forgery. Until about two weeks ago Eschweiler lived at a YMCA in Atlanta. 'He seemed to be a pretty level-headed, nice guy,' said Timothy Slaughter Jr., asistant manager of the male residents program at the Butler Street YMCA. 'He paid his rent on time and didn't cause any trouble.'