National News – "Shawshank" Prison Escape Ends after 56 years

Most everyone has seen the movie Shawshank Redemption. It was loosely based on a character who escaped prison. Well, yesterday, authorities captured the man the movie was based on. Several news agencies reported that Frank Freshwater was arrested in Florida. The following is a statement by Brevard County Sheriff, Wayne Ivey:

Tim Robbins played Andy Dufresne in the classic movie "Shawshank Redemption"
Tim Robbins played Andy Dufresne in the classic movie “Shawshank Redemption”

GAMEOVER AGENTS ARREST OHIO ESCAPEE AFTER 56 YEARS

The GAMEOVER Task Force has arrested a fugitive who escaped from an Ohio prison in 1959. 79-year-old Frank Freshwater was arrested yesterday at 1200 Jones Road, Melbourne, after information was received from the Cold Case Unit of the U.S. Marshal’s Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force in Ohio that Freshwater might be in the Brevard County area.

Freshwater was arrested on a Fugitive from Justice Warrant charging him with Escape. He was transported to the Brevard County Jail on a No Bond status, where he will await extradition back to the State of Ohio.

Frank Freshwater - Original Shawshank Escapee  (Photo via Internet)
Frank Freshwater – Original Shawshank Escapee (Photo via Internet)

Freshwater was initially incarcerated at the Ohio State Reformatory (also known as the Shawshank State Prison) and later escaped from the Sandusky Ohio Honor Farm in 1959 after serving 7 months of a 20-year sentence for violating the terms of his probation in regards to a Manslaughter conviction. Living under the alias of William H. Cox, Freshwater had lived in several states, working as a truck driver, before settling in Brevard County.

A newly created U.S Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force in Ohio recently reopened the investigation into the whereabouts of Freshwater and uncovered evidence that he might be living in Brevard County. Members of the GAMEOVER Task Force continued the investigation, eventually locating and arresting Freshwater.

Another great job by the members of our GAMEOVER Task Force and our partnership with the U.S. Marshals.

According to a report by CNN, the movie wasn’t exactly factual. Here is a report from CNN;

Man caught in Florida after 56 years on the lam – CNN.com

(CNN)For 56 years, Frank Freshwaters was a free man — though he shouldn’t have been.

But not anymore.

The now 79-year-old’s life on the lam ended Monday, when he was taken into custody at his Melbourne, Florida, mobile home. Freshwaters, who was living under the alias of William Harold Cox, is being held in the Brevard County Jail pending extradition to Ohio, said Maj. Tod Goodyear of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Thus ends a journey that took Freshwaters though numerous states, where he held various jobs and assumed multiple identities, according to authorities.

That journey started in Ohio, where Freshwaters pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter charges stemming from a 1957 automobile accident. He initially got probation for that crime, only to be sentenced again in 1959 to up to 20 years at the Ohio State Reformatory after a parole violation.

The Ohio State Reformatory may look familiar to moviegoers familiar with “The Shawshank Redemption.”

While that 1994 film and the Stephen King novella that inspired it were set in Maine, it was largely shot at the Ohio State Reformatory. In fact, people in Mansfield, Ohio, can take tours to see key locales from the movie — like the prison warden’s office, parole board room, “the yard” and the escape tunnel used by main character Andy Dufresne that he took before fixing up his fishing boat in Mexico.

Dufresne, as played by Tim Robbins, benefited from being a favorite of Shawshank’s warden and prison guards. In that respect, his story resembles that of Freshwaters, who was “quickly able to earn the trust of the prison officials,” according to Peter Elliott, the U.S. marshal for the Northern District of Ohio Man caught in Florida after 56 years on the lam – CNN.com

This trust helped to earn the Akron native a transfer to what’s called an honor farm, Elliott said.

Freshwaters escaped from that honor farm, not the prison. While it took Dufresne nearly 20 years to dig his way out of prison, Freshwaters managed to escape from custody after only seven months. Authorities have not divulged details on how he did it.

CNN’s attempts to reach family members of Frank Freshwaters in the Akron, Ohio, area, as well as those of William Harold Cox in Melbourne, were not successful.

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