How Lester Eubanks Escaped from Prison

Lester Eubank escape

U.S. Marshals Service Lester Eubank in 1973/A composite image of what Lester Eubank may look like today.

Lester Eubanks’ escape from prison isn’t exactly a dramatic story that would belong in a scene of Shawshank Redemption. Instead, the convicted child killer “just walked away,” according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Eubank was convicted of killing 14-year-old Mary Ellen Deener in what investigators believe was an attempted rape on November 14, 1965 in Ohio. Eubanks would be 77 today. Anyone with information on Eubank is asked to call the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force at 1-866-4WANTED (1-866-492-6833). To text a tip anonymously, send the keyword “WANTED” and the tip to TIP411 (847411), or send it online here. A $25,000 reward is available.

The case is being examined in the third episode of Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries, Volume 2, “Death Row Fugitive,” which is released at 12 a.m. Eastern time Monday, October 19, 2020.

Here’s what you need to know:

Eubanks Was on a Christmas Shopping Trip at the Mall as a Reward for Good Behavior When He Escaped in 1973

On December 7, 1973, prison officials took Eubank to a shopping center in Columbus, Ohio, and allowed him to go Christmas shopping unsupervised as a reward for good behavior. Eight years earlier, Eubank shot and bludgeoned to death a 14-year-old girl, Mary Ellen Deener, in an attempted rape. He was quickly identified as a suspect, arrested the next day on November 15, 1965 and charged with first-degree murder while perpetrating rape. A jury convicted him of the crimes and sentenced him to death on May 25, 1966. His death sentence was commuted in 1972, and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

“When Eubanks failed to return to his scheduled pick up location, he was reported as an escapee, and has eluded authorities ever since,” the U.S. Marshals Service said.

Officials hope an age-enhanced photo developed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) Forensic Imaging Unit will help identify Eubank.

“The technology and the talent of the artists has created a likeness that will hopefully bridge the gap in time that will enable a Facebook user or an Instagram follower to identify this child killer,” said U.S. Marshal for Northern Ohio Peter Elliott in a press release. “This pencil-to-paper approach helps humanize a photograph that takes him from escapee to old-man.”

Authorities Believe Eubanks Is Alive & Living Under an Assumed Name, Possibly in Michigan or California

Officials believe that Eubanks is still alive and using an alias. They believe he may be in Michigan or California due to leads in the case, but his location is not determined.

“Lester Eubanks has had a lot of time on the lam,” said Deputy U.S. Marshal David Siler in a press release. “Fugitives on the run as long as Eubanks tend to use that time to change their appearance, use aliases, and even start new lives. He literally could be hiding in plain sight. This is why we are asking citizens to be vigilant and contact us with any information they believe will help us apprehend him.”

He is a 5-foot-11 black male with black hair and brown eyes. When he escaped, he weighed about 175 pounds. He also has a mole under his left eye and a scar on his right arm. Officials believe he may be using the alias Victor Young, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

“I think about this case every day and the little girl who was killed,” Siler said. “In law enforcement, there are cases that keep you up at night; this is one of those cases.”

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