In 1937, when he was eighteen, Frank Soda and a couple of his friends were arrested after a high-speed chase through Lancaster, Ohio, which started when they filled up their stolen car at a gas station and drove off without paying. The police shot out their tires. Frank’s friend, Pete Polinsky, threatened the police with a shotgun. They had only been trying to impress a girl who had accepted their offer of a ride. The girl was sent home; the boys were sent to jail.
Frank was twenty-six years old, with a wife in Warren, Ohio, when he got a New Castle girl pregnant. She went to the police when he refused to support the child, and Frank was charged with adultery and bastardy. Before his case could be heard, he was returned to Warren, which had a prior claim on him in connection with a burglary charge. The mother of his child, who had expected the court to order Frank to pay her around $3 a week, the usual outcome of a bastardy case, was told she would have to wait until Ohio had done with him.
The court in Warren found Frank guilty and sent him to Trumbull County jail for two to four years. He escaped a month later. Every Wednesday afternoon, a local church group visited the prison to conduct services. After observing their routine, Frank and three other convicts simply followed them as they left through the double doors of the cell block. When the turnkey opened the outer door, the men pushed past him and ran off into the back streets of the town.
The men Frank had chosen to break out of jail with were much younger than he was and were all serving sentences for armed robbery and attempted murder. When they were caught a week later, holding up a filling station in New Jersey, Frank was not with them. Shortly before the police had arrived, he had stolen a car and quietly left the scene. There is no further record of his life.Sources: “Police Bullets Halt Flight Of Niles, O., Youths”, Circleville Herald, 29 Nov 1937; “Grand Jury To Take Up Youths’ Cases”, Piqua Daily Call, 3 Dec 1937; “Jail Escapees Seized In East”, Lima News, 1 May 1946.