Stephen York, a 64-year-old who escaped prison and lived under the identity of a deceased infant for more than 40 years, was arrested on Wednesday in Clay County, Florida.
York, who escaped from a North Carolina prison, had been living as Joel Dean Hanes since around 1975. York registered his driver’s license, got married, filed insurance claims, and had numerous brushes with the law over the course of more than four decades, however, according to the Florida Times-Union, it wasn’t until a car crash in August that an investigation into his identity was launched.
His record under Hanes’ name, which stretches back as far as 1986, shows he was cited nearly 50 times just in Clay and Duval counties. It indicates his then-wife took him to court over domestic violence in 1989, the same year she divorced him. Three years later, a second woman sought child support from him.
His second life unraveled following a two-vehicle crash along County Road 218 on Aug. 22, 2016. According to court documents, York handed a deputy a photo ID with Hanes’ name on it. But when that name was flagged, York provided a second ID — this one with his actual name and the same photograph.
That incident prompted a Florida Highway Patrol investigation, including at least one interview Nov. 30. Troopers secured a warrant for York’s arrest Jan. 10. He turned himself in at the Clay County jail without incident Wednesday.
He turned himself in on Friday, and faces charges including the fraudulent use of the identity of a deceased person, insurance fraud, and possession of an illegal driver’s license.
He is being held at Clay County Jail on $30,000 bond.
Give it to this guy for making it almost half of a century on the run. I can’t keep a secret for 15 minutes, let alone forty years. As long as this guy isn’t a violent criminal, he should be allowed to live out the rest of his days as a free man, as a reward for absolutely clowning on the American justice system.