Nobody wants to be in prison — if they do, then the prison’s doing it wrong. Plenty of prisoners have dreamed of escaping and living out their lives in freedom, but rarely do they get very far. In cases like the following, their failures weren’t due to the eagle-eyed guards doing their jobs perfectly. Instead, it was because their escape plans were more hilariously flawed than anything Wile E. Coyote could draw up:
The Prisoner Who Escaped And Failed … After Three Days In Minimum Security
As recounted by NBC Bay Area, Christopher Boscacci was held at Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas, California. On August 28, 2016, Boscacci decided he had enough of life behind bars, and made a getaway. He scaled the fences at a ridiculous speed — so fast, in fact, that he left behind one of his sandals on the top of the barbed-wire. He was caught on camera and apprehended shortly thereafter, as he failed to scale all three security fences standing between him and freedom. It’s like prisons want prisoners to stay there or something.
So far, it’s a pretty standard failed-escape story, right? Nothing too crazy. Except Boscacci had been there, in minimum-security, on a misdemeanor charge of petty theft, for a whopping three days. According to Mercury News, he was arrested on August 26 for theft, and was set to be arraigned on the 29th, and possibly released on $10,000 bail. This guy couldn’t wait one more night to very possibly be free — even if he didn’t go free, he’d still be in minimum for the remainder of his presumably-short sentence. But nope, he just had to make the early getaway. As a result, he was re-booked into maximum security on a felony charge of attempted escape, according to KTVU.
Pascal Payet’s Buddies Really Game Through For Him
When most people think about living out their golden years in the south of France, the maximum security prison in Grasse is probably not the destination that first comes to mind. Convicted murdered Pascal Payet, who was no stranger to prison escapes, was serving a life sentence when he decided that prison no longer held any appeal for him. Payet may have made some poor life choices that resulted in him serving a life term, but it turns out he did make some excellent decisions when it came to choosing friends.
One Saturday night back in 2007, the prison guards at Grasse were genuinely bewildered to see a helicopter landing on the roof of the maximum security wing of their prison. Suspiciously, the helicopter landed on the one part of the roof without a clear line of sight from the guard towers. Four masked men got out of the helicopter and used heavy equipment to cut their way through the two heavy metal doors between them and Payet. Within five minutes of the helicopter landing — less time than it takes for an Uber to arrive — Payet and his crew escaped into the night.
This was the second time that Payet escaped from prison using a helicopter. What is surprising was the Seinfeld-esque breakdown in communications prior to the escape. Not a single person thought it was important to let the prison guards, who were holding a convict who had a penchant for helicopter escapes, know that a helicopter in the area was stolen. Payet’s story is just a few explosions short from being the opening scene of a Michael Bay movie.
Escaping Prison In Trash Bags Is An Even Worse Idea Than You Think
Delegacia de Furtos
You might think nobody would be dumb enough to try escaping from prison in trash bags. Human bodies in big bags would be stupendously easy to catch, right? Well, down in Brazil, two prisoners were indeed dumb enough to try, and it worked out as well as you’d expect.
In July of 2012, as reported by Brazilian site Gazeta Do Povo (and recounted in English by the Huffington Post), Sidney Neves da Cruz and Carlos Eduardo Barbosa Pereira were being held at the Delegacia de Furtos prison in Curitiba, Brazil, when they decided it was time to get to stepping. They did so by waiting until after lunch (as reported by Brazilian site Noticias Terra), stuffing themselves into trash bags, hiding among the other bags filled with real trash, and were hoping to be sent out of prison along with the paper plates and discarded food.
This, as should be obvious to anybody, was a terrible idea. And it didn’t work at all. An investigator saw the bags moving around and initially thought it was a rat. Then, he apparently realized that would be one huge rat, and so he checked further and found two grown men squirming around, who they very quickly rearrested. So basically, unless your ability to be perfectly still trumps even the guards at Buckingham Palace, don’t try to escape in trash bags.
Love Breaks Steven Jay Russell Out Of Jail
Harris County Jail
Conman Steven Jay Russell had an impressive criminal career. Using nothing more than a bogus resume and a smile, Russell talked his way into the position of Chief Financial Officer for a large health insurance company, where he redirected funds into his wallet. After a clerical error revealed his creative accounting, Russell found himself in the Harris County Jail, where he met the love of his life, Philip Morris, who was due to be released soon.
Russell was not the type of person to let prison separate him from the man of his dreams and would go on to escape from prison on four different occasions to be with Morris. To walk out of jail, Russell made a guard’s uniform for one successful escape, a doctor’s uniform for another successful attempt, and once got a hold of a cell phone to convince a court clerk to lower his bail. Russell’s last successful escape from a maximum security prison was as insane as it was brilliant.
Russell used a crash diet and a supply of laxatives to simulate the rapid weight loss associated with a full-blown case of AIDS. Russell then arranged transfer to a minimum security prison hospital, followed by a transfer to hospice care, where once again he walked out the front door. Not once did it occur to anyone to actually run tests on Russell to determine if he really had AIDS. While free, Russell sent a fake death certificate to a Texas court house, making him legally dead. Suspicious of the chain of events, police familiar with Russell thought everything was a little too convenient and began tracking Morris. When Morris and Russell reunited in Florida — by law a story this crazy needs to have some connection to Florida — Russell was arrested, and his original sentence was extended to 144 years. Russell’s story is so crazy that it had to be adapted into a film, and only an actor as graceful and dignified as Jim Carrey could do his story justice.
Banging On The Prison Guard’s Door Looking For A Phone
Olympic Correction Center
So you made it out of prison, good for you. Now comes the hard part: not running into a prison guard while you’re still dressed like a prisoner. And if you don’t think that sounds hard, you’re clearly not James Russell.
In June 2011, Russell escaped from the Olympic Correction Center in Washington. He actually made a pretty clean getaway, finding himself alone in the woods and mostly home-free. He eventually found himself a cabin at the nearby Hoh River Resort, and decided to go in and see if whoever lived there had a phone he could use. That sounds like a decent plan, and if anything happened in that cabin — aside from its occupant being a guard of the prison Russell just escaped from — he probably would’ve been okay.
But, alas, when Russell knocked on the door, he discovered that a guard from the prison just so happened to be staying there — and Russell was still wearing his prison outfit, naturally.
After a brief scuffle, Russell managed to escape the guard’s grasp, but since the guard did, in fact, have a phone, he alerted all the other nearby guards of the escapee, and Russell was quickly caught and brought back to prison.
A White Man Poses As A Black Man He Didn’t Know Was Black
Hamilton County Jail
If you’re white, pretending to be black, isn’t typically the easiest way to make friends. It is also, unsurprisingly, a pretty bad way to try and escape from prison – as prisoner Kenneth Burnum discovered.
As the Hamilton County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office reports, Burnum — a white prisoner of the Hamilton County Jail — decided in August of 2013 that it was time to escape. But rather than run away, use a cake-saw or cut a hole in the wall, he waited until officers arrived to collect an inmate named Glenn Taylor, who was about to be released on bond. Burnum stood up when Taylor’s name was called, despite it not being his, and despite the officer immediately wondering why he looked so different from his picture.
Obviously, Burnum’s ruse was discovered real, real fast. After filling out multiple sheets under the wrong name, Burnum was sent for final identity verification, where officers finally confronted him on how the guy scheduled for freedom was black — and how Burnum was, well, not. When asked why he did it, Burnum simply replied that he wanted to escape and he was “being dumb.” No argument here.
Burnum was immediately taken back to jail and charged with both Criminal Impersonation and Attempted Escape.
Reporting Being Attacked … By Officers Trying To Stop You From Escaping
In May of 2016 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, prisoner Alexander Scaramastro was being moved from his cell to a treatment facility elsewhere. Out of nowhere, according to The Citizens Voice, came his buddy Luciano Ramos, complete with getaway car. Scaramastro broke free of the officers and jumped into Ramos’ car — the two sped off and even ran down a guard in the process.
So far, so good (or bad, because they’re bad guys). But escape wasn’t enough for them — they wanted to get those pesky officers in deep trouble for … being officers. Ramos stopped the car, ran into the police station across the street from where he’d grabbed his escaping friend, and started yelling about how he and his buddy were attacked by a group of men trying to steal their car.
Officers came out to investigate and found … county probation officers, surrounding Scaramastro. He insisted he didn’t know Scaramastro was in jail, but that went nowhere — Scaramastro snitched on his would-be getaway driver, showing the cops a text he sent to Ramos where he announced his plans to escape.
Scaramastro, obviously, went right back to jail, while Ramos got three-to-six years for his role in the botched escape.
Dr. Mudd, The Lincoln Conspirator Who Forgot He Was Too Famous To Escape
Those who conspired to murder President Lincoln were very naughty indeed, and the law let them have it. Even Dr. Samuel Mudd, who simply fixed up John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg (and lied to officers about knowing him), got life imprisonment for association. His attempt at escape proved that, while he might have been a doctor, he wasn’t terribly smart otherwise.
As told by BoothieBarn.com (a very well-researched site all about the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators), Mudd was imprisoned at Fort Jefferson, on an island off of Florida. Since they were fully isolated from society, the guards let the prisoners wander basically wherever they wanted on the grounds. It was with that bit of freedom that inspired Mudd to make a getaway. He befriended Henry Kelly, a crew member on the Thomas A. Scott, a steamer that made regular prisoner drop-offs on the island. Kelly agreed to help Mudd escape, both because he was likely offered money for his help, and because he was 18 (and you know how teenagers are).
Mudd slept outside the fortress the night before, because this was a free-range prison and he could. He then woke up, changed into a nice suit, and escaped into the ship’s bunker where he stayed … but not for long. See, Dr. Mudd might have forgotten this, but he was kind of famous for that whole “helping the president’s murderer escape” thing that sent him to prison in the first place.
Fort Jefferson’s storekeeper recognized him immediately, noted he had boarded the ship and not returned, and reported him to authorities. Officers soon found and rearrested him, confining him to chains and hard labor for days, and also banning him from going near steamers again (or at least until his 1869 pardon by President Johnson). Oh, and he snitched on Kelly, who was arrested for helping Mudd escape. What a pal.
He didn’t, however, snitch on the four prisoners who also escaped on the ship. They got away because officers were so laser-focused on the Lincoln guy. No one knows what happened to the successful escapees, except that they’re probably dead now.
Brian Bo Larsen’s Escape Addiction
Brian Bo Larsen
Brian Bo Larsen has the honor of simultaneously being one of the worst criminals and best escape artists that Denmark has ever produced. Larsen, now in his forties, has spent the majority of his life in and out of prison for crimes ranging from theft to armed robbery. It is worth noting that prisons in Denmark are a little different from their American counterparts. The prisoners have comfortable cells, wear their own clothes, eat with their families once a week, and there is a noticeable lack of high walls, barbed wire, and shower stabbings.
Despite the comfort of Danish prison life, Larsen has chosen to escape, as of this writing, an astounding 22 times. In one instance, he borrowed a bulldozer and crashed it through the prison walls, freeing himself and 13 others. Larsen’s most recent escape attempt reads more like a TMZ article than a crime report. After escaping from prison again and consuming roughly all of the drugs in Denmark, Larsen started partying with a local sex worker. After discovering that walking was difficult, the couple stole a car that was promptly crashed into a tree, and the escapee was quickly recaptured. Keep at it Larsen — one day you’ll figure it out.
This Is Why Convicts Can’t Have Nice Things
Neil Moore is perhaps one of the most dangerous people on the planet … when he has a smartphone. Using nothing more than a cell phone, charm, basic knowledge of web design, and a natural talent for impersonations a Saturday Night Live cast member would sell their soul to possess, Moore talked dozens of gullible bank employees into handing him ungodly sums of cash. Moore’s talents eventually landed him in a prison cell in the exceedingly British-sounding Wandsworth Prison. While most prisoners hustle to get their hands on cigarettes, pruno, or porn to make their stay more comfortable, Moore hustled for a smartphone.
With that small piece of technology that most take for granted, Moore planned a quick and clean escape. Using a technique known as typosquatting — registering a fake site with a similar spelling to that of a real website — Moore built a pretty decent copy of the website for the Southwalk County Court with his newly acquired smartphone. Moore then sent a pretty scary looking email from the website’s domain to the administrators of Wandsworth Prison, ordering his immediate release. Three days after walking out of prison, he turned himself into the police and had seven years added to his prison term. While most people would view this as a major life setback, Moore confidently returned to prison knowing that he could leave whenever he needed to.