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'Unsolved Mysteries' On Netflix: Where Is Lester Eubanks Now?

The convicted murderer was most recently tracked down to Alabama.
PHOTO: UNSOLVED MYSTERIES/NETFLIX
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In Netflix's newest installment of Unsolved Mysteries, we meet the charming (and impeccably dressed) Myrtle Carter, only to learn she's carrying a devastating burden: At the age of 14, on November 14, 1965, Myrtle's sister, Mary Ellen Deener, was assaulted and murdered by a man named Lester Eubanks in their hometown of Mansfield, Ohio.

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    Myrtle says Mary Ellen was a "giggly girl" with lots of friends, and she'd often help her family around the house by doing the laundry. On that terrible evening, the dryer broke, so she and her sister, Brenda, traveled up to the nearby laundromat, next to where their grandmother lived. After running out of change, Mary Ellen walked to another laundromat to acquire the necessary coins. She never came back.

    Her grandmother saw the police down the street and, to her horror, discovered the source of the commotion was Mary Ellen herself: She'd been shot twice, left to die, then killed with a blunt object. Using the caliber of the gun to track down the buyer, the police traced the bullet back to a man named Lester Eubanks. Carter said she knew him, or at least of him—he was a loner who she often saw walking down the street carrying nunchucks.

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    He was also a sexual predator. He'd been arrested twice in the past for sex crimes, and during Mary Ellen's death, he was out on bond for a rape attempt. And when police brought him into custody, he confessed to Mary Ellen's gruesome murder. Several times throughout Unsolved Mysteries, sources refer to Lester as a "monster" and a "narcissist." He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death row.

    age progression sketch Lester Eubanks
    An age progression sketch of what Lester Eubanks might look like today. Courtesy Of Netflix
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    So what happened to Lester Eubanks?

    Well, first, the death penalty was abolished before his execution date came around. Second, he supposedly "won over" the guards with his charm, and they allowed him into an honor program that took inmates outside the prison.

    In 1973, Lester and three other prisoners were allowed on a Christmas shopping trip without the constant presence of a guard. During that time, Lester slipped away.

    Okay, but...how?

    Excellent question—because, uh, no one knows! The experts interviewed on Unsolved Mysteries seem to think the grand escape was pre-planned. Lester met with an alarmingly high number of visitors in the months leading up to his escape, and his family might have been involved in arranging a pick-up for him at the shopping center.

    Were there any leads after his escape?

    Sure, but not until 20 years later, when it was discovered the federal warrant out against Lester had been removed from the database, which goes a long way toward explaining how Lester could survive in the open for two decades without getting caught. Experts say it was likely a clerical error. A CLERICAL ERROR.

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    So the investigators turned to—what else—television! They took the case to America's Most Wanted, and sure enough, a woman watched the show and called to tell authorities she knew Lester, and he'd ended up living with his cousin's widow, Kay Banks. Kay told them that was true, but he no longer lived with her. In an effort to get Lester, an intimidating "bully," as she put it, out of her house, she had told him the FBI had called her about him. With that one word, he split and disappeared from her life.

    Investigators later spoke with Lester Eubanks's father, and they got the impression the man knew where his son was, though he kept his lips zipped on the details. An informant added another piece to the puzzle: She'd visited with Lester's father, and during their time together, he'd strayed into another room for a phone call with his son in Alabama. Authorities tracked the phone calls to a center for troubled youth in Alabama, where a man had recently worked who fit Lester's description. But he'd left the center a few weeks earlier, leaving behind no trail for police to follow.

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    So where is Lester Eubanks now?

    No one knows for sure. By now, he would be in his 70s; he has a large scar on his right arm; he loves painting; and a $25,000 (P1.21 million) reward is out for his arrest. But so far little information about his location has come to light.

    On October 21, Brian Fitzgibbon of the U.S. Marshal Service told the Mansfield News Journal that, "He's alive. I feel we're getting closer."

    One breakthrough came about in 2019, when an unidentified man who claimed to be Lester Eubanks's son offered to give Marshals his DNA to compare against crime scenes around the country in an effort to locate his father. But these so-called "familiar searches" aren't as cut-and-dry as they might seem.

    "Familial searches are a touchy subject," Natalie Ram, a University of Maryland law professor, told ABC in an interview about Lester. "The federal government has a policy in place that they do not permit familial searches."

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    Until the path is cleared up to allow such a search, the unidentified man's DNA might do little good for the case. In the meantime, investigators are relying on tips to get justice for Mary Ellen Deener.

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      "There's nothing putting him in a place (location)," Brian Fitzgibbon told the Mansfield News Journal. "We're looking for any information to his life on the run or the history of his life on the run." People who have information about Lester Eubanks's whereabouts can submit a tip to Unsolved Mysteries or to the U.S. Marshals Service.

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      This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.