Real Life ‘Shawshank Redemption’ Fugitive Caught 56 Years Later

May 6, 2015 at 6:01 pm |

“Get busy living or get busy dying,” or get ready to go back to prison if you’re Frank Freshwaters, the fugitive who escaped from the Ohio prison system nearly 56 years ago.

Freshwaters, who fatally struck a pedestrian while speeding through Ohio as a 20-year-old in July 1957, was originally sentenced to 20 years at the Ohio State Reformatory, the same impressive prison where The Shawshank Redemption was filmed in 1994.

Although the movie isn’t based on a true story, this week’s big news story about Frank Freshwaters is making fans second guess Stephen King’s original inspiration. After serving for only a short while in the Ohio State Reformatory, Freshwaters was moved to an “honor camp,” but he escaped from there soon after in 1959 and has been on the run ever since.

As if the story wasn’t weird enough already, Freshwaters was busted again in 1975 while living in West Virginia under the name William Harold Cox. The police knew that they had found their criminal, but the governor of West Virginia refused to extradite him back to Ohio, and he soon escaped once again.

Finally, 40 years later, the US Marshals tracked down “Cox” once and for all in Melbourne, Florida earlier this week. The 79-year-old was residing in a trailer park and living off of Social Security checks. After staking out the area for a few days, the Marshals were able to match his fingerprints to their 58-year-old records and make the arrest. How did they go about it?

According to US Marshal Major Tod Goodyear, after showing the elderly man – who now looks more like Santa Claus than someone capable of killing an innocent person and evading the law for so long – his own mugshot from 1959, Cox basically replied “You got me.”

In court, a now passive Freshwaters quietly accepted his fate, and is set to return to Ohio to complete as many as 18 years of his sentence. Only time will tell if the wheelchair-bound man will escape again before his scheduled release as a 97-year-old.

Former ‘Shawshank’ inmate Frank Freshwaters finally caught after escaping over half a century ago…