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U.S. Marshals are using an “outside-the-box” perspective to study the psychology of an at-large convicted child killer who escaped prison in the 1970s in the hopes of tracking down the escapee who has dodged authorities for nearly five decades.
Lester Eubanks has been at large since escaping during a Christmas shopping trip while on furlough from the Ohio Department of Corrections nearly half a century ago. For decades, investigators suspect he has been “hiding in plain sight,” using a series of false identities for years to remain undetected, ABC News reported. If alive, Eubanks would now be 77.
The U.S. Marshals Service has since sought chief psychologist Dr. Michael Bourke, a former prison psychologist who specializes in behavioral analysis of criminals, to help track Eubanks down.
“We were looking for a different perspective — a real outside-the-box thinker — who could possibly give us insight,” Deputy U.S. Marshal David Siler told Inside Edition.
Bourke’s line of work has been popularized on certain television crime dramas such as “Criminal Minds” and “Mindhunter.”
“We took a look at behavioral patterns and habits and other aspects of psychology that might inform how they direct their energy,” Bourke told ABC News. “In that mix is where you hope there's a breakthrough.
Clues contained within Eubanks' own personality could be the key to locating Eubanks, some experts said.
“It can be a tremendous benefit to investigators,” Bradley Garrett, a former FBI profiler told ABC News. “It can help you to pull out behaviors that would give you indicators of what he might be connected to today.”
Bourke’s team also advised U.S. Marshals to employ certain interview techniques on witnesses who may be hesitant to divulge information.
“Our job at the end of the day is to bring closure to these families that have been sitting for years, never having closure," U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott, who specializes in cold cases, told Inside Edition. "We've been pretty successful at that."
Eubanks was convicted of brutally beating and killing a 14-year-old Mary Ellen Deenerin during an attempted rape in 1965. He was originally sentenced to death, however, his sentence was commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Eubanks was placed on the U.S. Marshals “15 Most Wanted” list in 2018.
“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 2018. “We are fueled by one thing, and this is justice for 14-year-old Mary Ellen Deener, of Mansfield, Ohio, the innocent victim in this case.”
“What you see in him is an absence of caring and the ability to flip a switch and have his conscience disappear,” Bourke, the prison psychologist, added. “He is absolutely capable of committing serious acts of harm.”
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