Top 10 Craziest PRISON ESCAPES Of ALL TIME
Prison's are designed with the sole intent of keeping criminals behind bars, but sometimes the criminal is a bit more crafty than the institution housing them. Attempting a prison break is dangerous and could cost one their own life, but for this list of prisoners, that risk was worth taking on multiple occasions.
Brian Bo Larsen
Though it may be somewhat easy to escape prisons due to the poor conditions of the buildings and moral ambiguity of the employees, one inmate escaping over 20 times is an impressive feat. After being picked up for armed robbery, Larsen was sentenced to seven years in prison. In 2005, Larsen made his first escape with help from workers from waste collection services. After every escape, he was caught and brought back in, only to continue the vicious cycle. Utilizing saws to cut through bars and rope to climb down from his prison window, Larsen was adamant about being on the outside. On December 22nd, 2014, Larsen was caught after his 22nd escape. For some reason, we don’t think this will be his last escape.
With five escapes under his belt between Great Britain and Australia, Moondyne Joe forced the government to build a specialized cell just to hold him. Legally known as Joseph Bolitho Johns, Joe’s criminal career started with burglary, for which he served the full ten year sentence. In the years that followed, from horse theft to robberies, Joe was arrested five additional times, and each time he crafted a means of escape. On his second to last capture, the governor was adamant that Joe receive a special, inescapable cell. He promised that could Joe escape, he would be pardoned. Of course, Joe found a way out by breaking at the wall of the prison. Despite the arrangement, Joe was picked up in 1867 for stealing wine and had his sentence increased until the new governor caught wind of the broken deal. Joe was freed by the legal system in 1871.
Yoshi Shiratori’s ability to escape from four different prisons in Japan earned him the title of the “Showa Era’s escape artist.” Shiratori was first picked up in 1933 under suspicion of murder and robbery, and when prosecutors sought a death sentence, Shiratori escaped by picking the lock on his handcuffs. He was recaptured shortly after and was given life in prison, a sentence he had no intention of fulfilling. After being incarcerated in Abashiri prison, the master escapist used miso soup to wear down his handcuffs and rust the inspection hole in his door. Finally, after injuring a man that later died, he was arrested and placed in Sapporo Prison to be executed. Using a sharpened piece of sheet metal, he sawed through the floorboards of his cell. Though he was arrested once more, the murder accusations were dropped and Shiratori was given a 20-year prison sentence, which he served.
18th century London, Jack Sheppard was a famed robber, thief, and burglar that faced multiple prison terms. In 1723, Sheppard was sent to New Prison in Clerkenwell for pick-pocketing. Using an old fairytale method of tying bed sheets together, Sheppard lowered himself with fellow inmate, Bess Lyon. Back in prison in 1724, with the help of Bess Lyon and a fellow prostitute, Moll Maggot, who acted as distractions, Sheppard escaped through an opening he created by filing away at the jails prison spikes. Sheppard’s final escape is also pegged as his most famous. Within the walls of the Newgate Prison, Sheppard was able to slip out of his handcuffs, pick the padlock that held him chained to the floor, and climbed to the roof of the prison. From the roof, using a blanket from his cell, Sheppard slid down to a neighboring home and escaped.
Richard Lee McNair
Convicted felon Richard Lee McNair was 29-years-old when he was picked up for murder, attempted murder, and burglary. McNair’s initial escapes from Ward County Jail and North Dakota State Penitentiary in 1988 and 1992 were a little less impressive than his 2006 breakout. After his first two escapes, McNair was arrested once again and placed in a federal maximum-security prison. In his time there, he had been working in the prison’s UNICOR division repairing mailbags. Using a package of repaired mailbags and a small breathing tube, McNair was able to stow away aboard a pallet that was to be delivered to a nearby, unguarded warehouse.
Steven Jay Russell
Spawning a cute movie starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor was the three prison escapes performed by con-artist Steven Russell. Russell wasn’t known for being violent and the only thing fueling his desire to leave jail was his love for Jim Kemple, who had been diagnosed with AIDS. Unwilling to risk not being with his lover prior to his death, Russell first broke out of Harris County Jail in Houston, TX in 1992 by posing as an undercover police officer. After Kemple’s death, Russell met and fell in love with Phillip Morris. Russell wound up back in prison for fleeing while on bail from an insurance fraud charge. Dressed as a doctor, Russell was able to walk right through the prison’s front door to be with Morris. His last escape lasted 10 days before being picked up once more. Russell’s final escape from prison proved to be his most elaborate as he faked late stages of AIDS, going so far as to lose a dangerous amount of weight. After contacting a hospice impersonating a prison doctor, Russell had himself admitted into a false treatment and, later, declared himself dead. If not for his love for Phillip, Russell may have been able to stay out of prison indefinitely.
From December of 1932 to February of 1947, bank robber Slick Willie escaped from prison on three different occasions. The first two escapes were at Pennsylvania’s now abandoned and spooky Eastern State Penitentiary, while his final break was at the Philadelphia County Prison. Sutton’s most infamous and second escape from Eastern State came with the help of inmate and plaster work Clarence Klinedinst and Klinedinst’s cellmate, William Russel. The two burrowed a tunnel from the wall of their cell out to Fairmont Avenue, an endeavor Sutton would take credit for upon his capture minutes after the attempted escape. His first and third escapes were far less dramatic, having scaled the prisons’ walls using ladders that had been strung together.
Alfred George Hinds
Neither Nottingham Prison nor the Chelmsford Prison in Great Britain could hold famed British prison break artist Alfred George Hinds. Hinds breakouts weren’t just to free himself from the prison system, but to give him the chance to prove his innocence of the jewelry theft he was arrested for. Hinds escaped Nottingham by picking a locked door and climbing over the prison’s 20-foot wall. He was picked up 248 days later, which prompted him to file a complaint against the arresting officers, sparking a hearing at the Law Courts in London from which he evaded by locking his escorts in the bathroom. His freedom was short lived and he was promptly thrown in Chelmsford Prison, where he spent one year before breaking out one last time.
This French prisoner not only escaped prison twice, he did so with the same panache as a villain in some big budget action movie. After participating in an attack in 1997 on a Banque de France that left a guard dead, Payet was arrested two years later and sentenced to a prison in the village of Lynes. On October 12th, 2001, Payet escaped the confines of the prison via a hijacked helicopter. Payet was picked up again in 2003 after rescuing former fellow inmates he had served with in 1999 via another planned helicopter escape. The crafty escape artist spent four years under close surveillance in solitary before yet another daring helicopter escape was staged by four masked men during the Bastille Day celebrations. In September of 2007, Payet was picked up for the last time and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Before he became Public Enemy No. 1, bank robber John Dillinger escaped the clutches of the law by escaping from prison, twice. Though his first prison term ended amicably, Dillinger immediately took back to his life of crime and was arrested again over conspiring to break out former fellow inmates Harry Pierpont and Homer Van Meter out of prison. Dillinger would find his way out of the Lima, Ohio jailhouse he was housed in when Pierpont, having previously escaped Indiana State Prison, posed as an officer to visit Dillinger and, in a panic, gunned down the sheriff guarding Dillinger. After a spree with his new gang, Dillinger was picked up, this time for the death of Officer William Patrick O’Malley. Though the prison he was held in, Crown Point, was said to be inescapable, Dillinger escaped by using a wooden gun he had carved and colored black with shoe polish.