Trigger Warning: This post contains information about the murder of a teenager.
In 1965, Lester Eubanks was convicted of murdering 14-year-old Mary Ellen Deener. In 1973, he escaped from prison custody and has never been found since.
Appearing in the episode, Death Row Fugitive on Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries, Eubanks, a convicted child killer, walked away from the custody of the Ohio Department of Corrections while on a temporary honour furlough (temporary leave) to go Christmas shopping.
According to the US Marshals Service, at the time of his escape, Eubanks was serving a life sentence for the November 1965 murder and attempted rape of Deener.
He had previously been sentenced with the death penalty, however, the sentence was changed to life in prison without parole in 1972 due to a US Supreme Court ruling.
What Happened to Mary Ellen Deener
Myrtle Carter, whom we meet in Unsolved Mysteries, called Deener a “giggly girl” with lots of friends who often helped her family around the house.
While helping her mother with chores, Deener stopped by a local laundromat to change her clothes.
Eubanks then grabbed her, pulled her behind a house and attempted to sexually assault her. When she tried to fight him off, Eubanks pulled out a revolver and shot her twice in the stomach.
After the shooting, he fled the scene before coming back to check to see if she had died. Finding her still breathing, he got hold of a brick and hit her over the head, cracking her skull and killing her instantly.
Eubanks was arrested and confessed to the teenager’s murder. He was convicted in May 1966 and sentenced to death. After being scheduled for execution three times, in 1972, a Supreme Court judge ruled against the death penalty, altering his sentence.
How did he escape?
In December 1973, after being granted furlough due to good behaviour, Eubanks was taken to a shopping mall alongside three other prisoners, unsupervised and dressed in civilian clothes.
The four inmates went in separate directions and after a few hours were meant to meet at a designated meeting spot. Eubanks never showed.
Local police and then the FBI conducted a thorough search however he was never found. They don’t know how he did it, but they do know that it was premeditated.
Where is the case up to?
As of October 2020, Eubanks has been on the run for 47-years. Twenty years after his escape, the federal warrant out for his arrest had been removed from the database — a “clerical error”.
Eubanks would now be in his 70s, with a noticeable scar on his right arm. There’s also a $25,000 USD reward out for his arrest.
In 2019, an unidentified man claimed to be Eubanks’ son and offered his DNA to compare crime scenes, however, according to the ABC, “The federal government has a policy in place that they do not permit familial searches.”
According to the most recent report on October 20 in USA Today, Brian Fitzgibbon of the U.S. Marshal Service believes that Eubanks is “still alive”.
“I feel we’re getting closer,” he told the outlet, saying that they are getting lots of tips from people who have seen the show and helping to fill in the gaps.
“There’s nothing putting him in a place (location),” he told the outlet. “We’re looking for any information to his life on the run or the history of his life on the run.”
Watch Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix, streaming now.