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10 of the Most Interesting Prison Escape Stories

Prison Escape Stories

Prisons are for confining the ones who go beyond the legal boundaries. However, the escape of a small percentage of culprits has seemed to be inevitable. These runaway prisoners use all their physical and mental might to get out of the confinements, but one can never anticipate yoga skills, wooden pistols, dirty laundry, and more such unexpected methods to escape prison. Anyway, they are real, and here are 10 such interesting prison escape stories that will surprise you

1. In 1980, French prisoner Michel Vaujour painted and used nectarines as grenades to reach the roof of the prison where his wife, Nadine, was waiting with a helicopter to lift him up. She had taken lessons specifically to aid in this escape.  

Michel Vaujour
Michel Vaujour. Image credit: berlinale.de via My Greatest Escape

Michel Vaujour was serving his 18-year prison sentence for committing an armed robbery and attempting to murder a policeman when he successfully escaped the prison for the fourth time.

He literally painted nectarines as grenades to deceive the guards and reached the rooftop where he was picked by his wife, who was flying a rented helicopter. She flew across central Paris to the prison, picked him up, and they both made the landing on a soccer field, from where they escaped on foot.

Michel’s wife, Nadine, was so determined to help free her husband that she had been taking helicopter flying lessons for months specifically to help him get out of the prison.

The Vaujours could not hide for long, and soon they were caught again. Nadine was found and immediately arrested in southwestern France, and Michel was shot in the head when he was carrying out a failed bank robbery but was lucky to survive. (1, 2)

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2. Steven Russell ingeniously escaped prison by consuming excessive laxatives to fake the symptoms of AIDS. Surprisingly, he was sent to a nursing home from where he called the prison posing as his own doctor asking for permission to participate in a treatment program. He even called the prison a few weeks later to mention that Steven is dead, which the officials believed. 

Steven Russell
Steven Russell. Image Credit: George Hixson via Theguardian

The well-plotted prison escape was carried out by Steven Russell in 1998. He took some serious efforts to pull this one-off. Over a period of 10 months, he barely ate anything else other than laxatives to look as emaciated as possible.

Then he wrote a fraudulent medical record with the prison library typewriter and sent it to the relevant department. Russell was extremely persuasive in his writing and convinced the prison officials to send him to a nursing home.

After reaching the nursing home, he called the prison, faked being his own doctor, and asked if they would let Russell participate in a medical treatment program that was totally non-existent in reality.

The story does not end here, he goes one step further and called the prison again after a few weeks to inform them that sadly, Russell was dead whereas, in reality, he was completely fine.

Russell had escaped prison many times, but this experience was one of his most difficult ones since he had to lose so much weight and had to go through a lot of reading about AID’s symptoms. (source)

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3. The notorious gangster John Dillinger carved a gun out of a piece of blackened wood and used it to bluff 33 people and make his way out of prison. He did this little prank in March of 1934, and months later he was found dead. 

On 3 March 1934, the American gangster John Dillinger intimidated 33 jailers and inmates with a fake wooden gun to get out of the Lake County Jail. He carved the gun out of blackened wood right under the noses of the prison guards.

Dillinger started making the move in the morning when trustees, porters, and deputies entered his cell with a basin of water and soap. John pointed the fake gun at one of the trustee’s heads when he bent over to put down the soap.

While keeping the gun right on his head he asked another jailer to bring the keys, and he locked the first deputy and associates into the cell. He took the second deputy with him as the hostage and started locking up the prisoners and guards by threatening them with the fake gun.

In this way, John and his co-conspirator made their way to the garage where they asked the workers to hand over the fastest car, which happened to be the sheriff’s. They took one of the workers as another hostage along with the deputy and asked the deputy to take the driver’s seat while the gun was still pointing at him from the back.

After a couple of hours’ drive, they released the two hostages by shaking their hands and offering them a cigarette and $4 for a cab to get back to the prison.

After thousands of searches, John was ultimately found dead on 22 July 1934. (source

4. A Korean yoga master named Choi Gap-Bok was 50 years old when he was arrested on suspicion of committing a robbery in September 2012. He squeezed his body out from the food slot measuring 6 by 18 inches at the bottom of the cell five days later to escape the prison. The effort was useless because he was caught again after just five days.

Choi Gap-Bok
Choi Gap-Bok. Image credit: Gong Jeong-sik via koreajoongangdaily.joins

Choi was highly skilled in yoga since he had practiced it for 20 years when he was arrested on 12 September 2012 for the suspicion of robbery. He was confined in the police station’s holding cell in Daegu, South Korea.

Choi was not new to prisons. He had already been inside for 23 years total and used to spend his time practicing his yoga inside the prison.

He stayed inside the holding cell for five days and finally decided to slip out. He applied some lotion to his upper body and squeezed himself out through the small food slot present on the bottom of the cell.

Choi pulled off this feat in less than a minute and moved flexibly like an octopus. He pushed his 5.7-inch body out from the little food slot by first putting his head through, then the right arm, and then the shoulder followed by the rest of the body. He passed the three officers who were sleeping and ran out through a narrow window.

After chasing him with the help of search dogs, helicopters, etc., he was finally found on 22 September, 30 kilometers away from Daegu hiding inside a cardboard box. When he was arrested again, the food slot was shortened to 3.5 by 5 inches. (source)

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5. During World War II, a French weightlifter, Charles Rigoulot, was jailed for hitting a Nazi guard, but he was strong enough to actually bend the jail bars and escape the prison. He also allowed the other inmates to go free. 

Charles Rigoulot
Image credits: Agence Rol/Wikimedia

Charles was into weightlifting from an early stage in his life. He won an Olympic Gold Medal, held 10 world records in weightlifting, and was once held  the title of “The Strongest Man in the World.”

During World War II, Charles was imprisoned when he hit a Nazi guard, but he was able to bend the jail bars with sheer muscle power and escape the prison. He even let the other prisoners in the jail escape. As soon as he freed himself from the bars, he began to look for the Nazi guard who imprisoned him so that he could beat him up.

Weightlifting was not everything that Charles did in his life. He was a wrestler, a racing driver, and an actor for some brief years of his life. He was born in Le Vesinet, France on 3 November 1903 and died of a heart attack on 22 August 1962. (1, 2, 3)

Also read: 10 Intriguing Criminal Cases That Were Solved in Unexpected Ways

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