MANSFIELD, Ohio — Justice given, then justice taken away. That’s what happened when a convicted killer escaped from custody.
Lester Eubanks has been on the run for 46 years. The Mansfield man vanished in 1973 when he walked away on a day he was allowed out of prison to go Christmas shopping.
Eubanks is one of Ohio’s most notorious fugitives. In December, he was placed on the US Marshals’ 15 Most Wanted list.
He had been on death row for the murder of Mary Ellen Deener, a 14-year-old from Mansfield, but his sentenced was commuted to life in prison when the death penalty was abolished. Then as a reward for good behavior, the convicted killer was taken shopping at a Columbus mall. Prison guards dropped him off on December 7, 1973 and never saw him again.
Myrtle Carter was 19 years old at the time of her sister’s death. She described Mary Ellen as a happy child.
“She was always giggling. Just a typical 13, 14-year-old,” she said.
Eubanks was out on bond for a suspected rape when he grabbed the 14-year-old and dragged her behind a vacant house on North Mulberry Street. It was November 1965 and she had been at the laundromat with her younger sister. The girls needed change so Mary Ellen walked around the corner to get some. She was found dead a short time later with her palm open and the change spilled on the ground.
The laundromat is gone now and so is the vacant house. Still standing is the home where Lester Eubanks lived. It sits right in the middle of the path Mary Ellen took. Eubanks tried to rape her, then shot her twice. He went home and returned a short time later, smashing her in the head with a brick to make sure she was dead.
Carter wants her sister’s killer back where he belongs.
“I hope that he’s caught. I hope that someone somewhere sees this and knows him, recognizes him.”
Since he vanished, authorities have found signs of Eubanks, first in Michigan then in California where he used the name Victor Young. Last year deputy US Marshal David Siler received a piece of information that convinced him he wasn’t chasing a ghost.
“Someone advised me that, you don’t know where he is and you’re never going to find him.”
That told Siler two things, “You know he’s alive and two, someone has had contact with him.”
Deputy Siler believes that Eubanks has been hiding in plain sight, living his life with a wife, possibly children and grand children. He would be 75 years old, he has a distinctive scar on his right arm and talent for oil painting. Finding this man and bringing justice to Mary Ellen’s memory is a focus that drives the deputy everyday.
He said, “You come into the office with the hope that you can get that one golden nugget that’s going to pull you a little closer.”
In all the time he’s been missing, authorities have not found any record that Eubanks has been in trouble with the law.
Since he was named to the 15 Most Wanted list, tips have come in from all over the country. There is a $25,000 reward for information leading to his apprehension.
Call 1-866-4WANTED if you have any information on Lester Eubanks whereabouts.