In 1957, Freshwaters was involved in an automobile accident that took the life of a pedestrian, 24-year-old Eugene Flynt. After pleading guilty to the crime, he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, and was initially given a five-year probation sentence, but later received up to 20 years in prison.
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Only serving two years in the Ohio state prison, Freshwaters escaped in 1959 and went by the alias of William Cox and relocated to various states. He finally settled down in Florida where he retired as a truck driver and began volunteering in the community.
However, the escaped inmate’s freedom came to an end when police officials came knocking at his door. Freshwaters was immediately taken into to custody for questioning.
During interrogation, police held up a picture of Freshwaters as an inmate – who was 23-years-old at the time – and asked “it’s you isn’t you?”
His response was “I haven’t seen him in a long time.”
After being interrogated, Freshwaters finally admitted that the young man in the picture was him, and he also confessed to escaping prison in 1959. However, he did not reveal how he was able to escape from prison and uphold his freedom for five decades.
For quite some time, Freshwaters had been living in the retired community and collecting social security benefits. People in the community refer to him as the “sweetest man.”
“I’m shell-shocked. After all this time, how he managed to keep from getting caught. He stayed out of trouble all this time,” said Sherl Cheetham who had known the escaped prisoner for over 15 years. She and her family grew close to Freshwaters. He was the best man at her wedding in 2012, and her children called him Grandpa Will.
“I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.”
“This is someone who loved to laugh. I honestly think they should let him go.”
US Marshall Pete Elliot said: “That’s not for us to decide. The bottom line is our job is to catch the person and bring him or her to court.”
Police officials opted not to reveal any information regarding how they discovered Freshwaters’ location in Florida.
But after 56 years on the lam, Freshwaters was finally captured. He is currently being held at the Brevard County Jail where he is awaiting extradition back to Ohio.
[Image courtesy of Frank Vervial/Flickr]