COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A now-80-year-old man who disappeared from an Ohio prison camp in 1959 while serving time for manslaughter and was captured last year in Florida walked away from an Ohio prison facility Wednesday, this time with permission.
Frank Freshwaters was released on parole from a Nelsonville facility to a relative in West Virginia, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, which wouldn’t disclose details. The conditions of his parole include five years of supervision.
Freshwaters’ attorney, Gordon Beggs, said the parolee was glad to be out.
“He’s looking forward to re-entering his retirement years,” Beggs said. “Because it’s not easy to serve time when you’re 79 and 80 years old in state prison.”
Freshwaters was caught not once but twice in the decades he was considered a fugitive. He first was found in West Virginia in 1975, but its governor concluded Freshwaters had a “flawless 16-year residency” there and refused to extradite him.
Investigators tracked him down again last year and found the widower living off Social Security benefits under the name William Harold Cox at a trailer in rural Brevard County, Florida. Freshwaters had used the Cox name since the 1970s, and why he wasn’t located for so long is a mystery.
Freshwaters was speeding when he fatally struck 24-year-old Eugene Flynt in 1957. The Akron man was imprisoned at the Ohio State Reformatory after violating his probation in the manslaughter case, and he disappeared from a Sandusky prison camp months later in 1959.
Prosecutors who argued against parole acknowledged that Freshwaters has suffered health problems but also said that he had changed his name, avoided accountability and never paid the restitution ordered for his victim’s family.
Flynt’s son, Richard, took a softer tone, telling parole board members that he didn’t believe Freshwaters had paid for what happened but that holding him more accountable was up to them.
Beggs said Freshwaters had worried about being sent back to the Reformatory and subsequently lived a clean life, adopting a new name as a fresh start.
By Wednesday afternoon, Beggs said Freshwaters was back in West Virginia, where folks just know him as Bill.
And Bill was taking a nap.
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