Real-Life Shawshank Prison Escapee Caught After 56 Years on the Run

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Tim Robbins in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ (Warner Bros.)

It turns out that not every escaped former Shawshank prisoner lives happily ever after on a fishing boat in Mexico.

Frank Freshwaters, a man whose name already sounds ripped from a movie, was captured in Florida earlier this week, 56 years after escaping a series of imprisonments that began at Ohio’s Shawshank State Penitentiary in 1959. His nearly six-decade flight makes him the prison’s second-most famous fugitive behind Andy Dufresne, the wrongly convicted (fictional) banker played by Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption, Frank Darabont’s endlessly televised 1994 drama.

Related: ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ Turns 20: Looking Back on the Prison Movie’s Surprising and Enduring Popularity

Freshwaters was initially convicted of voluntary manslaughter after a car accident in 1957, and when he violated his parole by obtaining a driver’s license, he was sentenced to up to 20 years at Shawshank. Like Dufresne, he quickly became a favorite of the guards there — though there’s no indication that he helped them with any financial schemes — and was soon transferred to a lower security prison work farm.

Soon after, Freshwaters fled, escaping incarceration after just seven months — far sooner than the 20 years it took Dufresne to dig an escape passage through the sewer of the old prison.

Freshwater was caught in West Virginia in 1975, but the state’s governor refused to extradite him to Ohio, which ultimately allowed him to escape once again. He then got busy living, spending the next 40 years drifting across the United States, until retiring to Melbourne, Florida, after a career as a truck driver.

Frank Freshwaters’ mugshots in 1957 and 2015 (AP)

Related: 13 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Shawshank Redemption’

Unfortunately for Freshwater — or William Harold Cox, as he became known — the U.S. Marshals never stopped tracking him, and obtained his fingerprints several weeks ago. When they found a match, they confronted him at his trailer park home, got him to confess, and arrested him.

“We have a saying in the Marshals Service, ‘Let no guilty man escape,’ and that is so true in this case,“ U.S. Marshal Pete Elliot told CBS News.

Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies — but sometimes, it gets cut short by a crafty cop assigned an old cold-case file.