WHEATON, Ill. (STMW) — A former nuclear plant engineer wasn’t in court Tuesday when a suburban woman described how he allegedly used a lifelike latex mask and black handgun to steal her car last year.

Michael Buhrman is being tried on felony carjacking charges even though he disappeared last September while free on bond — and DuPage County prosecutors contend there’s evidence he may have fled the country.

He vanished after allegedly telling a girlfriend he had collected $100,000 in gold bars and planned to travel to Chile to avoid being prosecuted, court records show.

Prosecutors said the 32-year-old Buhrman was wearing a “high-quality” facemask that made him look like an elderly man when he stole the car at gunpoint last May 9 from a woman in a Woodridge parking lot.

“I looked down at his hands and he had a gun,” Carrie Bradley said, describing the carjacking. “He told me to give him my keys and walk away.”

She did, but a witness followed the car and called police, who curbed the vehicle a few minutes later.

Buhrman was inside, prosecutors said, still wearing the mask, with a loaded .45-caliber pistol sitting on the seat beside him.

Bradley told jurors hearing the trial she identified Buhrman after his arrest by his clothes and the facemask.

“I recognize it — it’s the man who approached my car and stole it,” Bradley said Tuesday in court, her voice breaking as she looked at the facemask.

When he was arrested, Buhrman was working as a nuclear engineer at the Dresden Generating Station near Morris.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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