School Closings And Delays

Son of Notorious Escapee Meets Family

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LUZERNE COUNTY -- The holidays are a time for family, but a recent get together in our area was anything but traditional.

A U.S. Marine recently caught up with some relatives he never met. They are relatives of his dad, a convicted safecracker who escaped from a state prison in Luzerne County more than 40 years ago.

David Hudson Jr. is spending time with the Van Scoten family in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, close to the Pennsylvania state line. They are relatives he never met, the brothers and sisters of David's notorious father.

"Whatever he was doing in his previous life, if you want to call it that, he corrected it, changed it," said Hudson.

He is William Van Scoten, a convicted thief and known safecracker in Pennsylvania and New Jersey back the 1960s and 1970s. Van Scoten had served two years at the state prison in Dallas in Luzerne County.

When floods from Hurricane Agnes devastated the region, inmates were sent out on work release to help people who lost their homes to flooding.

The prison sent Van Scoten to work at a fire hall in Kingston. Then one day on his detail, Van Scoten ran away.

Van Scoten escaped to Canada. He got married, changed his name to David Hudson, had two sons, worked on a dairy farm, and then as a mechanic for 30 years.

David Hudson Jr. says the only thing unusual about him was that he never missed an episode of the television show "America's Most Wanted," a show that tracked fugitives and also aired on TV in Canada.

"I always thought, 'He's really interested in this,'" Hudson said. "Now, I understand completely."

Back then, David says his dad was just a hard-working, law-abiding Canadian. His dad talked him into joining the U.S. Marines, which he could do because his mother is a native American, giving him dual U.S. Canadian citizenship.

In 2003, David's father was getting sick and asked him to come back to Canada to visit and talk.

"He's like, 'You know how I'm Dave Senior and you're Dave Junior? Yeah, I'm not Dave Senior,'" Hudson recalled.

Hudson confessed he was really William Van Scoten, escapee, and career criminal wanted in the U.S. for three decades. Van Scoten died six months after his confession to his son.

But David Hudson Jr. waited 14 years to tell U.S. authorities the man they had been looking for since escaping from a state prison in Luzerne County was dead.

"I did not want to tarnish his name."

Hudson says his father leaves a dual legacy tarnished by his criminal activity, but redeemed by an honest life in Canada after what this son calls a second chance.


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