The Shawshank Redemption… if you haven’t watched this movie, then I’m not sure we can be friends. This Tim Robbins/Morgan Freeman “classic” offers watchers more to chew on than just your average run-of-the-mill Hollywood prison flick, but I must digress…
This article deals with a man on the run. Frank Freshwaters, a 79 year-old Melbourne, Fla. man has been arrested after 56 years on the lam. Authorities received a tip from the US Marshall’s Service that a man living under the alias William Harold Cox could possibly be their man.
Freshwaters, who evaded his prison sentence for the 1957 car accident that killed a young father where he pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter, was initially sentenced to probation. After violating his probation, Freshwater was sentenced to 20 years in prison at the Ohio State Reformatory, which was later made famous by the movie.
“He gained the trust of the guards, and he worked his way out,” U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott tells Newsweek, which earned him new placement at the Sandusky Honor Farm, and from which he subsequently escaped.
Finally time caught up with Freshwater, when he was apprehended by authorities in West Virginia. “The governor would not extradite him. The information we received is that they thought he was a good citizen, so they wouldn’t do it,” Elliott says. “He ran again. He was a smart criminal.”
From that point on until February 2015, the case sat closed in the Northern district of Ohio. “There was no ‘one tip.’ I just started a cold case squad, and I assigned a full-time deputy to it, who was a fresh set of eyes on these old cases,” Elliott says. The additional resources allowed the district to go after long elusive criminals. “Back in the ’60s and ’70s, we had a number of escapes out of Ohio. These individuals were never caught.”
The Ohio cold case team managed to track him to Florida, where they worked with the US Marshall’s Service and local law enforcement in Florida to finally apprehend and arrest Freshwater. “He gave it up right away, admitted who he was. He said his time was up,” Elliott recalls.
“[We] approached him, showed him the 1959 picture, asked if he’d seen that person. He said he hadn’t seen him in a long time,” Major Tod Goodyear of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said of the confrontation at Freshwaters’ isolated mobile home.
Richard Flint, the son of the man Freshwater killed tells Newsweek that he had mixed emotions regarding the arrest. “He’s kind of an old guy now. But he does have to pay for what he’s done, that’s how I feel about it,” Richard Flint says. “Me, personally, I wouldn’t pursue it far. They’ll probably put him in an honor farm, something real light. He does deserve to do some time.”