47 Years Ago, Lester Eubanks Escaped From Prison. Today, He's Still At Large.

Lauren Kranc
·2-min read
Photo credit: Elaine Chung
Photo credit: Elaine Chung

From Esquire

In December of 1973, Lester Eubanks—a convicted murderer serving a life sentence in an Ohio prison—got on the good graces of his guards to be placed in a program that allowed him to go Christmas shopping unattended in a mall. But, Eubanks never reported back to the prison in time—and he hasn't been seen by the police in the 47 years since.

The fifth episode of Netflix's Unsolved Mysteries Volume Two follows the case of Eubanks who would be 76 today, and is still considered a fugitive at large.

In 1965, Eubanks violently assaulted and murdered 14-year-old Mary Ellen Deener while she was walking to get more change for her local laundromat in Mansfield, Ohio. He had a record of offenses by that time, and he was sentenced to death in 1966 after he confessed to the crime. In 1972, Eubanks’ sentence was commuted to life in prison after the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. His good behavior and close relationship with the guards led to him being allowed to join a shopping trip for prisoners in a reclamation to society program—and he has not been seen since. Eubanks had an increase in visitors in the weeks before the escape, leading investigators to believe he may have had assistance in planning his prison break.

“Death Row Fugitive” traces his escape route from Michigan to Los Angeles, where he stayed with a girlfriend for a time under the name Victor Young, and then later on to Alabama. He’d left these locations by the time investigators caught on, and though authorities say they've had credible tips about Eubanks from several states including Florida, Georgia, Alabama, California, and Ohio, the trail has been largely cold since 2003.

Lester Eubanks was added to the U.S. Marshal's list of most-wanted criminals in 2018, and after Volume 2 of the Netflix reboot dropped on October 19, Brian Fitzgibbon of the U.S. Marshal Service said that they are already getting a lot of tips from people filling in the holes. “He's alive. I feel we're getting closer,” Fitzgibbon told USA Today. “We're looking for any information to his life on the run or the history of his life on the run.” The U.S. Marshal Service is offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads to his capture.

Unsolved Mysteries producer Terry Dunn Meurer believes that out of the six episodes this season, the Lester Eubanks case is the most solvable. “Somebody knows where he is or maybe he passed away, but somebody knows that,” she told Esquire.

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