News

Was Waterford man former escapee?

 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

This Feb. 1, 1980, wanted poster from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, reissued Aug. 1, 1987,  shows William Van Scoten who authorities say escaped from a prison work detail on July 12, 1972, in Kingston, Pa. Officials said Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, that a family member told them Van Scoten assumed the name of David Paul Hudson and died in August 2003 in Waterford, Ontario. (Pennsylvania Department of Corrections via U.S. Marshals Service via AP)

This Feb. 1, 1980, wanted poster from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, reissued Aug. 1, 1987, shows William Van Scoten who authorities say escaped from a prison work detail on July 12, 1972, in Kingston, Pa. Officials said Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, that a family member told them Van Scoten assumed the name of David Paul Hudson and died in August 2003 in Waterford, Ontario. (Pennsylvania Department of Corrections via U.S. Marshals Service via AP)

SCRANTON, PA. - 

An American prison inmate who escaped from a work detail after a devastating flood almost a half-century ago may have ended up in Waterford, where he died in 2003.

The U.S. Marshals Service says William Van Scoten was working on a State Correctional Institution-Dallas prison detail aiding relief efforts in the Wyoming Valley after Hurricane Agnes caused widespread damage in 1972.

Van Scoten, who was 43 years old, was two years into a 10- to 20-year sentence on a burglary conviction.

Officials said last week that a family member told them that Van Scoten assumed the name of David Paul Hudson and was living in Ontario and died in August 2003 in Waterford of emphysema and heart disease.

A death notice published in Sept. 2, 2003 edition of the Simcoe Times-Reformer said Hudson died at his residence on Aug. 30, 2003 at the age of 58. A wanted poster issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for Van Scoten in 1980 said he was born on November 20, 1929.

Hudson was survived by his wife, two sons and a grandson. His funeral was held in the chapel at the Thompson-Mott Funeral Home and he was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Waterford.

Marshals said they hoped to get confirmation through fingerprints from authorities in Canada.

The Trentonian newspaper, of Trenton, New Jersey, reported that Van Scoten’s son Dave Hudson said Van Scoten told him about his past in the summer of 2002 after he returned home to Canada following service with the U.S. Marines. Hudson told the paper that David Paul Hudson would watch “America’s Most Wanted” with rapt attention when it aired.

“He would just sit there and have this look on his face, hoping he didn’t come on there,” he said. “I never knew for years, and then when I finally found out, everything started to make sense.”

Van Scoten escaped from Trenton State Prison in 1961 by fashioning a dummy and climbing over the walls, spending five years on the run until his arrest in upstate New York.

In July 1972 he was serving a term at SCI-Dallas and was assigned to a kitchen detail at Independent Hose Co. in Kingston when he fled, according to the original wanted poster, The Citizens’ Voice, of Wilkes-Barre, reported. Shortly afterwards, he entered Lake Erie and “didn’t stop swimming until he was in Canada” at Port Dover, Dave Hudson said.

Van Scoten then worked on tobacco farms, where he met his wife, and later had a dairy farm, had a heavy-equipment business and did demolition work, Dave Hudson said. He also kept his two sons out of trouble.

“There was no screwing around,” Dave Hudson said, adding that when he was growing up “almost all of our family friends were police officers.”

The U.S. Marshals Service said Canadian authorities generally fingerprint those who die and it’s awaiting confirmation of Van Scoten’s identity as David Paul Hudson.

“It is important that the public know and fugitives know, we will never stop searching for those who try and escape justice,” U.S. Marshal Martin J. Pane said in a statement.

‑ With files from Simcoe Reformer