A convict who escaped from prison almost 6 decades ago has finally been captured by law enforcement officials.
Frank Freshwaters, 79, has spent 56 years running from the police. Authorities arrested him on Tuesday after officials received a tip from U.S. Marshals that said he now lived in Melbourne, Florida, according to Time Magazine.
He was also living under the name William Cox.
Major Tod Goodyear of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office described the arrest as it took place at the convict’s mobile home.
“[We] approached him, showed him the 1959 picture, asked if he’d seen that person,” Major Goodyear said. “He said he hadn’t seen him in a long time.”
Freshwaters had been using a variety of aliases since his escape back in 1959. However, since he had been staying out of trouble and had even obtained a Florida’s driver’s license, he was able to evade capture for years. He had even been collecting Social Security.
“He said to him, ‘It’s you isn’t it?’ And that was it,” said Major Goodyear. “He’s been living the retired life and was getting Social Security benefits, I believe under his alias. He’s been living under that alias for years.”
According to authorities, Freshwaters escaped from the Sandusky, Ohio, Honor Farm back in 1959. Previous to that, he had been incarcerated at the Ohio State Reformatory, otherwise known as the prison used in the film "The Shawshank Redemption."
He had been convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years probation with a suspended sentence of one to 20 years, USA Today reports. Freshwaters was charged with violating his probation, however, and had to serve 20 years in prison. However, seven months into the sentence, Freshwaters escaped. He was caught in the 1970s in West Virginia, Time Magazines reports, but was released after a failed extradition.
“He admitted who he was and owned up to everything,” U.S. Marshal Pete Elliot told reporters.
“He’s been in Florida for several decades,” he continued. “He probably wanted to go as far South as he could.”
To some in the Melbourne community who have known Freshwaters, this discovery came as a surprise.
Shirl Cheetham, 34, told reporters that she had known Freshwaters as William Cox. They met 15 years earlier.
According to USA Today, she had known him quite well, listening to his jokes and even going hunting with him. Freshwaters was even the best man at her wedding in 2012.
“He is just the sweetest man. … I’m shell-shocked," she said. "After all this time, how he managed to keep from getting caught. He stayed out of trouble all this time.
“I’m still trying to wrap my head around it,” she added.
Photo Credit: USA Today