U.S. Marshals Resolve Missing Inmate Cold Case

SCRANTON -- The U.S. Marshals Office in Scranton has closed the book on one of its longest-running manhunts.

This week, authorities finally learned the whereabouts of a man who was an inmate at the state prison in Dallas and fled while he helped clean up local communities in the wake Hurricane Agnes.

William Van Scoten was a known safe cracker who escaped from a prison in New Jersey in the 1960s. He was doing time at the state prison in Dallas in 1972 when he had another opportunity to flee.

That opportunity came in the form of Hurricane Agnes and the flooding it brought to Wilkes-Barre.

The state Corrections Department sent a group of inmates from the state prison in Dallas to help in the cleanup and that group including William Van Scoten, who was serving a 10-year sentence for burglary and larceny.

"One of the duties they assigned him to, when they put him on release to help the community, was cooking at a fire hall in the Kingston area. He took off," said U.S. Marshal Martin Pane.

For decades no one could find him.

The state police handed the case to the U.S. Marshal's Service cold case unit in 1998.

Law enforcement received tips from 12 states. It turns out Van Scoten was in Canada where he got a job, got married, had a son, and lived under the name David Hudson.

U.S. Marshal Martin Pane says Van Scoten told his son David Hudson Jr. the truth about his past days before the fugitive died in Canada in 2003.

Pane says the son waited for 14 years to tell authorities because Van Scoten appeared to live an honorable life after his escape from Luzerne County 45 years ago.

"He was quite candid about what he was able to discover about his father and bring this forward, and what's important here is you have closure," said Pane.

There is one more step before the case is officially closed. The U.S. Marshals wants to match fingerprints on Van Scoten's death certificate with those authorities have on file.

4 comments

  • Think Positive

    Compared to today’s level of criminal, this guy almost seems harmless. This article says nothing about him being “armed”. I’m not saying that unarmed theft is right, but this news article, though enlightening, brings back memories of how things were before drugs, weapons, and insanity overtook our country.

    • Think Positive

      I forgot to mention one of the biggest problems of today, and that is pedophiles and sex offenders. Every day it gets worse and worse.

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