CLEVELAND Ohio will release on parole a 79-year-old man convicted of manslaughter who escaped from a prison camp and spent 56 years as a fugitive before his arrest last year in Florida, a spokesman for prosecutors said.
Frank Freshwaters, 79, of Akron, Ohio, has been dubbed the “Shawshank Fugitive” in the media because in the 1950s he spent time at Ohio State Reformatory, a prison featured in the 1994 film “The Shawshank Redemption.”
The Ohio parole board on Thursday recommended that Freshwaters be paroled and placed on probation for five years, said Summit County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman James Pollack. The board set his release for April 24, he said.
His lawyer told the parole board that Freshwaters had lived a clean life while a fugitive and never forgot the 1957 car accident in which he killed pedestrian Eugene Flynt, local television reported.
The prosecutor’s office, which has jurisdiction over the area where the manslaughter case was brought against Freshwaters in 1958, opposed his release on parole, Pollack said.
“Freshwaters failed to comply with his probation, and did not pay a dime of the $1,500 he was ordered to pay in restitution,” Summit County prosecutors said in a statement.
Freshwaters had lived for about two decades under the name William Harold Cox in central Florida, where he was arrested in May at his house. He was eventually extradited to Ohio.
In the 1957 death of Flynt, Freshwaters later pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was given a suspended sentence of one to 20 years in prison along with five years probation.
He was found guilty of violating his probation in 1959 and sent to the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, then transferred to the Sandusky Honor Farm to finish his sentence.
Freshwaters fled the farm in 1959, leading to his 56 years on the run as he lived in different states under his alias and worked as truck driver.
He will be sent to live with his son in West Virginia, where he lived for a time, Pollack said.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland, additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)