Real Life Shawshank Prisoner Recaptured After 56 Years

Real Life Shawshank Prisoner Recaptured After 56 Years
Between the cells Thaddeus Quintin / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

A convicted felon who was arrested for manslaughter in 1957, and had successfully escaped prison in 1959, was recaptured earlier this week.


Frank Freshwaters had pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges against him in a 1957 auto pedestrian accident. According to Freshwater’s indictment, the victim in the incident, Eugene Flynt, 24, was killed.

Freshwaters initially received probation. However, after a parole violation, he was sentenced to a term of 20 years at the Ohio State Reformatory, also called Shawshank State Prison and which served as the location of the 1994 film “The Shawshank Redemption.”

Like Tim Robbins’ fugitive Andy Dufresne, who had earned the trust of the warden and guards at the prison, Freshwaters too was “quickly able to earn the trust of the prison officials,” according to Peter Elliott, the US Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio.

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Elliott said Freshwaters got transferred to the Sandusky honor farm, as reported by CNN.

However, unlike the film, written by Stephen King, where Defresne escapes the prison through a tunnel he spent 20 years digging, Freshwaters escaped the Sandusky Honor Farm after only seven months in September 1959.

On Monday, after 56 years, Freshwater was found in a remote Melbourne trailer when officials along with the US Marshals Service and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene carrying an old mug shot.

According to Orlando Sentinel, Major Tod Goodyear with the Sheriff’s Office, said, “We showed him the picture and said, ‘Hey, have you seen this guy?’ and he looked at it and said, ‘Not in a very long time.

“At that time they confronted him with the information they had, and he admitted to them that they were right.”

Freshwaters was living under the alias William H. Cox.

He had been in Brevard for 20 years, before which he had lived in several other states under different aliases.

U.S. Marshals said in the news release that Freshwaters was “one of Ohio’s most wanted and long sought after fugitives.”

Freshwaters was transported to the Brevard County Jail, from where he will be extradited to Ohio.

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