The real Charlie Free
You may have read Sunday's story about Jack Hazen (left), a man who robbed a Pompano Beach 7-Eleven back in 1975, escaped from prison, then lived 32 years on the lam under the name Charles Danny Free until being caught again in 2008.
He's being released today from Dade Correctional Institution in Florida City and will be paroled to Panama City, where he'll have a job and his wife and grown daughters will take care of him.
A colleague who read my story raised a good question: Has anyone ever tracked down the *real* Charles Danny Free, the man whose ID Hazen lifted in order to start his second life?
A few keystrokes later, I found Charles Danny Free, 63, a nice Southern gentleman living in his hometown of Anderson, S.C. He picked up on the second ring.
"I lost my driver's license, and several people used it as their own," he said, explaining he had never been to Jacksonville, where Hazen said he picked up Free's ID at a motel.
Hazen's quiet life as Charlie Free in Las Vegas turned out to be the least of the real Free's problems. Free was a truck driver, and he got fired from two jobs because other people who stole his identity racked up several DUIs.
"It took several weeks to clear that up, but by then they had taken my truck away from me," Free said.
He didn't seem too impressed by Hazen's double life.
"What he did doesn't concern me," Free said.