William Leslie Arnold: A Tale of Escape, Rebirth, and Unveiled Truths


In 1958, a shocking crime unfolded in Omaha, Nebraska, as William Leslie Arnold murdered his parents over a dispute about using the family car. Fast forward to 1967, Arnold, having served time as a model inmate, managed a daring escape with fellow inmate James Harding. The story takes a mysterious turn as Arnold transforms into John Vincent Damon, leading a completely new life in Australia until his demise in 2010.

The Dark Beginnings

Arnold’s descent into infamy began with a tragic incident. Denied use of the family car, he resorted to murdering his parents and burying them in the backyard. For two weeks, he concealed the crime, feigning his parents’ absence. However, the truth surfaced, leading to Arnold’s confession and a life sentence in the Nebraska State Penitentiary at the age of 17.

A Musical Respite Behind Bars

Source: CNN

Despite his grim past, Arnold exhibited talent as a musician during his incarceration, spending considerable time in the prison’s music room. It was in this unlikely setting that a daring escape plan began to take shape.

The Great Escape

In 1967, Arnold and Harding executed a successful prison break. After parting ways in Chicago, Arnold’s trail seemed to vanish, leaving investigators puzzled for years. Eventually, it was revealed that he had assumed a new identity – John Vincent Damon.

Reinventing in Chicago

Under his new name, Arnold built a fresh life in Chicago, working in a restaurant where he met his future wife. The couple moved across cities, raising her four children together before a divorce prompted Arnold’s relocation to Australia.

A Second Chance Down Under

In Australia, Arnold, now John Damon, carved out a new identity as a successful salesman. He remarried, had children, and earned a reputation as a loving father. His death in 2010 marked the end of a life lived under a fabricated identity.

Unveiling the Truth

In 2020, investigators, armed with DNA samples, unraveled the mystery. Arnold’s son, seeking answers, discovered his father’s criminal past. Despite the shock, Arnold’s legacy was redefined by the man he became in Australia – a good provider and father.


William Leslie Arnold’s life is a complex tapestry of crime, escape, and redemption. While his early actions were heinous, his later years in Australia paint a different picture. The story prompts contemplation on second chances, reinvention, and the enduring complexity of human identity.


  1. How did William Leslie Arnold escape from prison?
    • Arnold, along with fellow inmate James Harding, executed a successful escape in 1967.
  2. What led to Arnold’s decision to change his identity?
    • Arnold assumed the name John Vincent Damon to build a new life and escape his criminal past.
  3. How did investigators track down Arnold in Australia?
    • In 2020, DNA samples collected from Arnold’s family members unveiled his true identity.
  4. What was Arnold’s life like in Australia?
    • In Australia, as John Damon, he became a successful salesman, remarried, and was remembered as a devoted father.
  5. How does Arnold’s son perceive his father’s legacy?
    • Despite the shocking revelations, Arnold’s son emphasizes his father’s positive impact as a provider and music enthusiast.

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