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Crime News

Lester Eubanks' Prison Escape Is Investigated In 'Unsolved Mysteries' — What Leads Do Authorities Have Now?

Lester Eubanks escaped custody while serving time for killing teenager Mary Ellen Deener.

By Gina Tron

A teen girl's relatives initially thought that justice was served after the man who brutally murdered her was sentenced to death for the heinous crime. But shortly after his death sentence was changed to life in prison, he managed to escape police custody — and has been evading justice ever since.

Lester Eubanks attempted to rape and then brutally beat 14-year-old Mary Ellen Deener in Mansfield, Ohio in 1965 after she ventured out on her own to get change for laundry. Eubanks was out on bond for a suspected rape at the time. Following the attack, Eubanks went home to his apartment to dress up for a night on the town, as a new “Unsolved Mysteries” episode on the case entitled “Death Row Fugitive” reveals. On his way back out, he passed by the scene of the crime again to see that Deener was still alive. He then beat her to death with a brick. 

He was quickly arrested and admitted to murdering Deener. Shortly after, he was sentenced to be executed for the crime, which helped her family feel as if justice was served, according to "Unsolved Mysteries." That sentence, however, was commuted to life behind bars in 1972 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional.

Lester Eubanks Pd

However, Eubanks wouldn't stay in prison for long.

As “Unsolved Mysteries” details, Eubanks charmed prison staff enough to give him leniency during his life sentence. He was even allowed to leave the Ohio Department of Corrections on his own with permission from time to time. While on one temporary honor furlough to go Christmas shopping in December 1973, he ran off, the U.S. Marshals stated in a press release. He has been on the run ever since.

So, what leads do investigators have on Eubanks' whereabouts?

While there was no trace of him for years and the search stalled, investigators began actively searching for him in the '90s. In a turning point, “America’s Most Wanted” did a segment on him in 1994, which led to a tip from a California woman. She said Eubanks had been living with his cousin’s widow in the 1970s following his escape. The widow confirmed it to detectives.

Investigators also discovered that he was in Michigan briefly before he moved to California under the alias of Victor Young. After he was kicked out of the widow's home, he worked and lived in Gardena, California at a mattress manufacturing facility where he remained until the mid-1980s. An interview with his father, referenced in "Unsolved Mysteries', indicates that he may have also spent time in Alabama in the early 2000s.

In 2018, Eubanks was put on the U.S. Marshals' 15th Most Wanted list, where he still remains. Around the same time, authorities noted he could be in the Detroit area, Fox2 Detroit reported. Then, last year, U.S. Marshals announced that they collected DNA from a man who believes he is Eubanks' biological son by rape, ABC News reported. They have been trying to match samples of that gathered DNA to unsolved crime scene evidence around the country in hopes of finding him and possibly linking him to other crimes.

However, that effort resulted in roadblocks as using a relative’s DNA to search is prohibited by FBI policy.

Lester Eubanks Fbi

Eubanks is believed to have friends and family in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Florida, Alabama, California, and Washington, according to "Unsolved Mysteries,' which highlights those states as possible locations for him. He has a large scar on his upper right arm which wraps all the way around his arm, as the episode shows.

Anyone with information about Eubanks’ whereabouts is urged to call the US Marshals at 866-4-WANTED or to go to unsolved.com.

A reward of up to $25,000 is available.