Real-life ‘Shawshank’ escapee caught 56 years later

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MELBOURNE, Fla. — A fugitive on the run for more than half a century was found living in a mobile home in Florida. His story seems to mirror the famous Stephen King novella and movie “The Shawshank Redemption.”

This time, the tale ended differently.

In 1959, Frank Freshwaters was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Seven months later he escaped the prison that later became known as the place where they filmed the hit movie “The Shawshank Redemption” was filmed. Now it’s the end of the road for his life on the run.

According to News 13, Freshwaters, 79, appeared in court in a wheelchair Tuesday and listened to the escape charges that have followed him for 56 years on the run.

“By waiving extradition, the authorities will be notified so they can transport you back to Summit County, Ohio,” the judge said.

That’s where it all began in 1959, the Ohio State Reformatory, the prison that was the backdrop of the 1994 prison escape movie “The Shawshank Redemption.”

Freshwaters escaped serving just seven months of a 20 year sentence related to a manslaughter conviction. Decades went by and nothing, until this week.

An Ohio cold case unit, got a tip Freshwaters might be in the Melbourne area. That’s when Brevard County’s GAMEOVER Task Force paid him a visit monday afternoon at his Jones Road mobile home.

“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,” said Major Tod Goodyear, Brevard County Sheriff’s Office

Investigators say he even had a valid Florida driver’s license, was receiving social security and appeared to have avoided trouble all this time. He did get caught in West Virginia in the 1970’s, but the extradition fell through and he was released.

The Jones Road property is isolated, with no neighbors for several hundred yards. A small mobile home sits back on the property which is fronted by two stop signs and a no trespassing sign warning people to keep out.

Neighbors we spoke with say Freshwaters was quiet and kept to himself.

Investigators say over the years Freshwaters lived in several states and worked as a truck driver before settling in Brevard County about 20 years ago.

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