Friday, March 07, 2008

Low-tech problems: a man lives off a name on a student id card for over two decades


Even over twenty years ago, identities could be borrowed. Last night (March 6) ABC World News Tonight presented the story of Charles Free (an ironic name) who escaped from a Florida prison in 1979 (by walking away from a work detail), found a lost student ID card with the last name of Free, and built a new life on that name.

The story is by Jim Avila, Beth Tribolet, Lauren Pearle, and Scott Michels. The title at ABC is "A Free Man for 30 Years, Fugitive Faces Prison; Family of Escapee Who Led Upstanding Life Pleads to Keep Him Out of Jail." He raised a family in Nevada, but now Florida wants him back. (Remember the song "Indiana wants me.") Here is the link. He (actually Jack Allen Hazen) is in poor health and might not survive serving his prison term now.

A somewhat similar story is the Sara Jane Olson story, about a woman who fled from charges related to the Symbionese Liberation Army (with Patty Hearst) in the 1970s. The cops caught up with her in St. Paul, MN in 1999. There was a book about her; here is the review.

In 2004, Lifetime TV aired a movie about another similar story, "The Michelle Brown Story," about how a domestic lived off the identity of her employer.

So there have been plenty of low-tech ways for this to happen in the past.

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