The desire to be free is a natural one and no matter how hard we try to contain it, people will always find a way towards freedom. In fact, this desire is commonly shared by all living things on Earth. When someone is deemed unfit to be part of the society, they are sent off to prison. These individuals spend a considerable amount of time inside until they come to their senses. For some, it is a life changing moment. Meanwhile, there are a few who will give their everything to break out. These people spend months planning and preparing for the ultimate Shawshank escape. Here are some stories of prison escapes that are completely out of the box.
1. El Cheeky Chapo
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is no stranger to the world. The head of the Sinaloa cartel is also known for his daring prison escapes. His first escape was in 2001, where after serving just 8 years of a 20 year sentence, Chapo spent $2.5 million to bribe prison guards and make his way towards freedom. He then disappeared for 13 years before finally being caught and brought to justice. On the night of July 11, 2015, thanks to some complex engineering and security lapses, he managed to pull of his second escape.
Chapo’s henchmen spent months digging under the Altiplano high-security prison to free their leader. Their effort missed Chapo’s cell, accidentally ending up within another inmate’s cell. It didn’t take long, however, for his accomplices to correct the mistake and find their target. Chapo used the tunnel under Mexico’s most fortified prison to escape and evade authorities for nearly six months before finally being captured again. This short term freedom only cost him $50 million.
When the Marines raided Chapo’s secret hideout, they discovered eight military rifles, one handgun, a rocket launcher, two rockets, and four vehicles — two of which were armored.
2. Choi Gap-Bok
Yoga is known to have many health benefits. One such benefit from years of practicing yoga is the ability to contort your body. Choi Gap-Bok, a South Korean man, was arrested on suspicion of robbery on September 12, 2012. The yoga master, with a 23 year experience in the field, vowed that no prison could contain him. With the help of some skin ointment and his experience with contortion, Bok managed to squeeze his body out through the food slot in the cell bars.
Thankfully for Bok, all three officers on duty were sleeping and he seized the opportunity to skip past them. According to the Korean Times, it only took him 34 seconds to pull off the stunt. Bok then made his way towards a less secluded area. He managed to evade the police for a while but was eventually captured.
3. Frank Abagnale
Frank Abagnale, an international fraudster, committed a series of jaw-droppingly bold crimes. His early life was retold in the 2002 film, Catch Me If You Can. Between the ages of 16 and 21, Abagnale flew over 1,000,000 miles by impersonating a Pan Am airplane pilot. He would ride in the spare seat and often at times was left alone by the pilot. Abagnale claims that he has played at least eight identities in his life; such as an undercover prison agent, a lawyer, a physician, a pilot and a few others.
After being sentenced to 12 years in prison, Abagnale was transported to a detention facility by a Marshall who forgot to take the prisoner’s papers with him. Abagnale utilized this opportunity and convinced the prison guards that he was an undercover prison inspector. The guards swallowed the bait and treated him with utmost respect. In his autobiography, Abagnale explains getting help from a friend who he names as ‘Jean Sebring’. Sebring doctored two ID’s – one an FBI agent’s, the other a prison inspector’s – and managed to get it past the guards and into his hands.
Abagnale then used the ID’s to convince the guards to call the FBI agent. When the guards called, Sebring picked up the phone and convinced them that she wanted to meet Abagnale outside the prison walls. The con man was let out of the doors and he laughed his way towards freedom.
4. Michel Vaujour
When it comes to freedom, love is blind and the sky’s no limit. A French man named Michel Vaujour was serving a lengthy sentence for attempted murder and armed robbery. His wife, Nadine Vaujour, on the other hand, couldn’t live apart from her beloved husband. The love birds hatched up a Mission Impossible style escape plan to get Michel out of prison. In 1986, a determined Nadine took helicopter flight lessons, and with the help of an accomplice, hovered over Paris’ La Sante prison.
Michel forced his way onto the prison’s roof by wielding nectarines that were painted to look like grenades. He was then picked up by the awaiting chopper and flown out. The duo then landed on a nearby football field and drove off. Sadly, their escape with detailed planning didn’t last for long. Nadine was picked up by local police officers in southwestern France and Michel was killed in a failed robbery attempt.
5. Keith Rose, Andrew Rodger and Matthew Williams
During the 20th century, the Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight was considered to be equal to Alcatraz. The British prison was well fortified and told to be impregnable but that did not stop three men from escaping. In 1995, Keith Rose, Andrew Rodger and Matthew Williams were serving long prison sentences for several crimes. They, however, had no intention of being kept inside forever. The three men used readily available materials to make spare keys and open main doors.
The trio then cut through mesh fences, scaled a perimeter wall and took a taxi to the town of Sandown. The men then spent the next four days sleeping in an open field while trying to steal boats and planes to get off the island. The freedom was short lived, as an off-duty prison guard spotted them and recognized the familiar faces. All three were arrested just days after the daring escape.
6. John Dillinger
John Dillinger, a midwestern bank robber in the 30’s, was considered America’s public enemy No. 1. Dillinger and his gang reportedly robbed a dozen or so banks and police stations. Their robbery attempts came with fatalities, and soon enough, he became the scorn of every law enforcement officer in the nation. Finally, in January 1934, the law caught up with Dillinger and he was taken to Lake County Jail in Crown Point, Indiana.
At the time, the jail was considered to be escape proof but little did they know, Dillinger was about to prove them wrong. In March of 1934, Dillinger along with another inmate, carved a gun out of wood blocks. To make it look realistic, they shined it with black shoe polish. The duo then took 33 men, including inmates and prison guards, as hostage and forced their way out of the facility. As they were leaving the premises, Dillinger even took the Sheriff’s brand-new V8 Ford as his escape vehicle. Later that same year, authorities caught up with him but this time, Dillinger couldn’t escape justice as he lost his life in a stand-off with them.
7. Frank Lee Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin
The Alcatraz was widely known as an impenetrable prison. Situated on an island, surrounded by cold frigid waters, the well fortified prison housed some of the worst criminals in history. Lifetime criminals Frank Lee Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin were serving time inside the walls of Alcatraz when they hatched up a detailed plan towards freedom.
The trio fabricated heads out of a mixture of soap, toilet paper and real hair, and then left it on their beds to fool officers making night-time inspections. They then used stolen tools to make a tunnel to an unused service corridor. From there, they managed to climb to the roof, where they climbed down and scaled another fence. Then, they used a makeshift raft to sail away. The guards did not realize that they men were gone until the next morning.
After a 17-year investigation, the FBI concluded that the three men must have drowned in the bay. In 2013, however, the FBI received a letter from a man who claimed that he was John Anglin and that all three men had survived the night.
8. Mark DeFriest
Known as the Houdini of Florida for his successful escape attempts, Mark DeFriest was arrested in 1978 and served a year in prison. Soon after his release and while on probation, DeFriest retrieved some tools that his father had left him in his will. His stepmother considered it to be an act of theft and reported it to authorities, who considered that DeFriest had violated his probation. He was subsequently sentenced to another four years in 1980.
DeFriest considered the punishment to be unlawful, since he only took what was rightfully his. Since 1980, the now 55 year old had made 13 escape attempts; seven of them successful. His 13 escape attempts has earned him more than 30 additional years of incarceration; of which he spent 27 years in solitary confinement for misbehavior.
One of his escape attempts included lacing an on-duty guard’s coffee with sedatives. Sadly for DeFriest, other on-duty officers spotted him just before he reached the final door. In another escape attempt, DeFriest removed his teeth to warrant a trip to the dentist. He then used an improvised gun made out of wood to threaten the officers and escape. DeFriest is still behind bars today and his life was portrayed in a 2014 documentary, “The Mind of Mark DeFriest”.
9. Richard Lee McNair
Richard Lee McNair, a convicted criminal, is known for his ability to escape and elude the law. In 1987, he committed an armed robbery that resulted in fatalities for which he was sentenced with two life terms. After starting his sentence, McNair attempted to escape three times. In his first attempt, he used lip balm to squeeze his hands through handcuffs. The second time, he crawled through a ventilation duct to set himself free. The third time, he mailed himself out of prison in a crate.
McNair, who was given the task of sewing torn mailbags, discovered that he could fit himself inside one of them. He carefully inserted a breathing tube inside the bag and tucked himself in. The bag was lifted outside the prison, where it was left for the mailman to pick up. McNair cut himself out of the bag and set himself free. A few miles away, in a different part of the town, McNair was spotted by a police officer. When the officer questioned him, McNair convinced him that he was simply a jogger from a nearby town. The officer failed to realize that the man was in fact the escapee he had been looking for. McNair was arrested a year later and is currently serving time.
10. Pascal Payet
French criminal Pascal Payet gained international notoriety for his role in a series of daring prison breaks. His prison break plans included the use of a helicopter that flew in and swooped him out to freedom. In 2001, Payet had arranged for his friends to pick him up from the top of a security prison. His buddies hijacked a helicopter and forced its pilot to fly to Payet’s prison near Paris. Two years later, he pulled off the same stunt, but this time to help his fellow inmates to escape.
A few years later, Payet was captured and sentenced to 30 years for his crimes. He was one of France’s most closely watched prisoners, but once again, Payet managed to break free by taking advantage of Bastille Day celebrations. As the celebration was going on, Payet managed to climb his way to the roof and jump into a hijacked helicopter flown by four masked men. Months later, he was arrested and and transferred to a secret location, where he now remains.