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Escaping Prison

Guiness World Record for Longest Escape Belongs to Nevada Man 

Most escapees from prison only enjoy a few days of freedom before being recaptured. Even so, the Guinness Book of World Records notes the longest prison escape on record to be more than 46 years, and it belongs to a man who escaped from a Nevada prison in 1923.

Leonard Fristoe was accused of killing two sheriff’s deputies in 1920, and was sentenced to life in prison shortly thereafter. He escaped from the Nevada State Prison in Carson City on December 15, 1923, and was turned in by his son on November 15, 1969, which amounted to 45 years and 11 months worth of freedom.

After his escape, Fristoe assumed the name of Claude R. Willis, and went on to live a very productive life. He was a successful businessman who even operated a bus company in Wyoming at one point. He was living in Compton, California in 1969, when he was apparently turned in after a family feud. Since Nevada has no statute of limitations on escape, he was then returned to police custody.

At the time he was apprehended, Fristoe was 77 years old, and had not been in any other trouble with the law. His capture was widely publicized due to the length of his escape. Photos of his return to prison show the elderly Fristoe walking on a cane and being held onto by a prison guard. He spent a couple more years behind bars before being pardoned, and was able to die a free man.