Prison Escape - Famous Historical Escapes - 1975-1999


  • Midnight Express author Billy Hayes escaped from a Turkish prison island where he was serving a 30 year sentence for hashish smuggling, using a fishing boat to make his way to Greece and eventually home to New York City, in 1975.
  • Dwight Worker, incarcerated for drug smuggling, walked out of prison in Mexico City in 1975.
  • Serial killer Ted Bundy escaped from prison twice in 1977.
  • Michael Sabo escaped from Allenwood Federal Prison in 1979.
  • In December 1979, political prisoners Tim Jenkin, Stephen Lee and Alex Moumbaris escaped from South Africa's maximum-security Pretoria Prison. After 18 months of plotting, testing, preparing, and learning how to pick locks and forge keys, the trio escaped the prison the same way they came in: through 10 locked doors.
  • In the 1983 Batticaloa Jailbreak on 23 September 1983, 41 Tamil political prisoners and 151 criminal prisoners escaped in eastern Sri Lanka.
  • In the Maze Prison escape on 25 September 1983, 38 Provisional Irish Republican Army members escaped from HMP Maze in Northern Ireland, the biggest prison escape in British history.
  • In 1984, six death row inmates escaped Mecklenburg Correctional Center, making it the largest mass death row escape in American history. All were recaptured within 18 days, and all six men would eventually be executed. The final execution took place in 1996.
  • Claude Dallas escaped from a penitentiary in Idaho in 1986 and spent a year on the run.
  • In Hull Prison, East Yorkshire England a teenager on remand was the first inmate to escape the Category B high security prison without any inside help. 19 year old Tony Thomsen was on remand for breach of bail conditions and during a visit he managed to conceal himself as a visitor remaining unchallenged eventually walking out to his freedom.
  • Steven Jay Russell escaped from a number of prisons on multiple occasions. The first was from Harris County jail on May 12, 1992, when he impersonated a guard by using a set of civilian clothes and a walkie-talkie. He was arrested again and escaped by impersonating a judge and lowering his bail to a price he could afford. He was arrested one week later and sent to the Maximum Security Estelle Unit in Huntsville, Texas, and used toilet dye and highlighter pens to dye a prison uniform green to look like doctor's scrubs. He then walked out and was able to hitchhike a ride. He was caught again and escaped by faking his medical records and faking the symptoms of AIDS, and he was then granted a special-parole to be allowed to die in a nursing home. Russell then telephoned the prison, posing as a doctor and AIDS specialist, asking for volunteers for an experimental treatment which he then volunteered for. Later, after an attempt to break out his lover, Phillip Morris, from another prison he was caught and feigned a heart attack, where he was guarded by FBI agents at the hospital. He called the FBI agents and convinced them he was no longer a wanted man. He was later arrested by U.S. Marshals.
  • Danny Ray Horning escaped from the Arizona State Prison in Florence, Arizona on May 12, 1992, and a 55-day manhunt ensued as Horning fled the authorities. The pursuit ended on July 5, 1992, near Sedona, Arizona. Horning led authorities hundreds of miles through the Arizona wilderness, and committed numerous kidnappings during the manhunt.
  • In September 1994, 6 prisoners, including Paul Magee, used guns to escape Whitemoor Prison. They were later recaptured.
  • Trikala, Greece, on May 23, 1995 Albanian inmates staged a daring escape from an old Turkish administration building-turned-prison, using weight dumbbells to break the locks of the gates and bed springs as a ladder to scale the wall. Twenty-nine prisoners escaped, about half of them never recaptured having absconded to Albania. Only Albanian inmates escaped, having kept escape plans secret from prison's international population.
  • In 1995 Vellore Fort Jailbreak on 15 August 1995, 43 Tamil Tiger inmates escaped from Vellore Fort prison in India.
  • In August 1996, Englishman David McMillan escaped from Thailand’s Klong Prem Central Prison while awaiting trial on drug charges. McMillan cut the bars of his shared cell, scaled four walls before dropping over the electrified outer wall using a bamboo ladder. The break-out is described in his book Escape (published 2007).
  • In 1998, the Belgian child molester Marc Dutroux notoriously managed to escape for a few hours. He was caught the same afternoon, but the incident forced two politicians to resign and deepened the loss of faith in the Belgian judicial system. (
  • Martin Gurule escaped from the Texas Death Row at Ellis Unit in 1998. He was found dead a few days later.
  • In 1999, Leslie Dale Martin and three other inmates on Louisiana's death row escaped from their cells at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. They were caught within hours before they even managed to escape prison grounds. The four men had managed the escape with the use of hacksaws that had been smuggled in for them by a bribed corrections officer. Other corrections officers were inattentive to the inmates' two to three week effort at cutting their cell doors and window. After the escape, two corrections officers were fired and two others were demoted. Martin was later overheard by two corrections officers plotting another escape, which included taking hostages and commandeering a vehicle to ram the prison's front gates. Martin was immediately moved to the holding cell outside the Death Chamber, a month before his execution in 2002.
  • In March 1999, Lucy Dudko hijacked a helicopter during a joy-flight over Sydney and ordered the pilot to land inside Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre in Silverwater, New South Wales where her lover, John Killick, was serving 28 years for armed robberies. The helicopter plucked Killick from the prison's exercise yard and avoided a shower of bullets fired by prison guards. The couple then went on the run, eluding police around the country until their luck ran out in a Sydney caravan park six weeks later.
  • Ty Conn's escape on May 6, 1999 from inside Kingston Penitentiary was the 26th in the history of facility. Conn employed a ladder and homemade grappling hook to scale the wall and used cayenne pepper to deter dogs following his scent.

Read more about this topic:  Prison Escape, Famous Historical Escapes