Ohio man arrested in Florida after 56 years on run

Reuters News
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Posted: May 05, 2015 11:59 AM

(Reuters) - An Ohio man who walked away from a prison farm in 1959 while serving sentence related to a manslaughter conviction has been arrested in Florida, authorities said on Tuesday.

Frank Freshwaters, 79, of Akron, who had been living for about two decades in central Florida under the name William Harold Cox, was arrested without incident at his house in Melbourne on Monday afternoon by the U.S. Marshals Service, the service said.

Freshwaters admitted his true identity, the service said.

He is being held in the Brevard County jail without bond on a fugitive warrant while awaiting extradition to Ohio, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office said.

"Working together with all of our law enforcement partners in Ohio, West Virginia and Florida, we were able to close one of our states oldest escape warrants and I am proud of all the efforts our team put forth into this investigation," U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott said in a statement.

Freshwaters was the driver of a car that fatally struck a pedestrian in July 1957, authorities said. He 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 the probation in February 1959 and sent to the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, then to the Sandusky Honor Farm to finish his sentence, the service said. He fled the farm in September 1959.

Freshwaters was captured in 1975 in West Virginia on the Ohio warrant but the state's governor refused to extradite him and he was released, the service said.

The Ohio Adult Parole Authority asked the Marshals Service to look into the case after it set up a new cold case task force three months ago and weeks of investigation led to Freshwaters being found in Florida, the service said.

Freshwaters had lived in several states under the alias William H. Cox working as a truck driver, before he settled in Brevard County about 20 years ago, the sheriff's office said.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Bill Trott)