A convicted child murderer who has eluded authorities for more than four decades may be living under an alias in one of two states and “hiding in plain sight,” according to federal officials.
The U.S. Marshals Service added Lester Eubanks to its “15 Most Wanted List” on Dec. 7 in hopes of ending his 45-year stint on the lam.
“The U.S. Marshals are not deterred by the passage of time when it comes to cases like this one,” U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott of the Northern District of Ohio said in a statement. “We are fueled by one thing, and that is justice for 14-year-old Mary Ellen Deener of Mansfield, Ohio, the innocent victim in this case.”
On Nov. 14, 1965, Eubanks shot and bludgeoned to death Mary Ellen in what law enforcement allege was an attempted rape. Authorities quickly identified Eubanks as the offender, and he was arrested the next day and charged with first-degree murder while perpetrating rape.
On May 25, 1966, a jury found Eubanks guilty of the crimes and sentenced him to death. In 1972, Eubanks’ death sentence was commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
But it was on Dec. 7, 1973, when Eubanks eventually made his escape, after prison officials took him to a shopping center in Columbus, Ohio. He was allowed to walk unescorted as a reward for good behavior, and then never showed at his scheduled pick up location.
“While the Eubanks case is designated as a cold case, I want to assure the public our investigation into his whereabouts is very active,” U.S. Marshals Service Deputy Director David Anderson said in a statement. “I have total confidence in our deputies and our law enforcement partners who are determined to make sure Eubanks’ last days are spent in a prison cell where justice intended it.”
Eubanks, who would now be 75, is believed to be alive and living under an alias, according to the agency.
Investigative leads over the years have placed him in Michigan and California, and officials said his whereabouts remain a mystery. A reward of up to $25,000 is available for information leading to his arrest.
Deputy U.S. Marshal David Siler said that Eubanks may have changed his appearance, used aliases and even started a new life.
“He literally could be hiding in plain sight,” Siler said. “This is why we are asking citizens to be vigilant and contact us with any information they believe will help us apprehend him.”
Eubanks is described by officials as a 5 foot, 11 inches tall black male with black hair and brown eyes. He also has a mole under his left eye.
At the time of his disappearance in 1973, he weighed approximately 175 pounds. Eubanks may be using the alias “Victor Young,” according to federal officials.
Anyone with information on Eubanks or his possible whereabouts is urged to contact the nearest U.S. Marshals office or the U.S. Marshals Service Communications Center at 1-800-336-0102.