Top 10: Greatest Prison Escapes

wmmattler March 10, 2010 Comments Off


Nothing thrills us more than hearing about a good “break out”. Unless the break out is next door to you or your grandparents, those aren’t as much fun. No walls can hold the human spirit when it is determined to be free! This top 10 is all about the human spirit… and some damned cool escapes!

10. The Texas 7

Using the old tried but true “Look there!… KONK” method of escape these seven men made good their escape from a Texas county jail sending the local people and the media scrambling. All of them were recaptured within 4 months.

What’s worst than being recaptured and taken off to prison? Being #10 on our list… bet they REALLY wish they had gotten away now!

9. Colditz POW Camp

This imposing prison perched atop a cliff with raging water on one side and basically only one way in and out (and it was covered by machine guns) was touted as being inescapable by the Nazis. Obviously French Lieutenant Alain Le Ray wasn’t convinced.

This determined Frenchman escaped on April 11, 1941. He hid out during a game of football; that’s soccer to you Yanks. When everyone else was going back to their cells, Lt. Le Ray was doing what the French do best: running away.

8. Escape from Stalag 13

Made famous by the movie The Great Escape and immortalized in the hit 1960′s series Hogan’s Heroes The escape from Stalag Luft III was an amazing, if somewhat futile feat. The plan?

Escape through three hand-dug secret tunnels named “Tom”, “Dick” and “Harry”. Of the 76 men who attempted this mass exodus only three actually made it to freedom. Fifty were killed after the escape and the rest were returned to camp.

7. Dieter Dengler’s Jungle Escape

USN Pilot Dieter Dengler escaped from a Viet Nam POW camp when he and six other prisoners overpowered the guards and made their way into the jungle.

Dieter, who was known for excelling in the Navy’s SEER training course (Survival Escape Evasion and Resistance) made his way to “friendly lines” in 23 days.

6. Lucien Rivard

In 1965 Rivard scales a Montreal prison wall using a garden hose. He then disappeared, kind of. For several months police and various agencies tried to track down this elusive criminal.

Rivard in the meantime thumbed his nose at those who were trying to apprehend him, going so far as to even write a letter to the Priminister of Canada stating, “Life is short, you know. I don’t intend to be in jail for the rest of my life.”

5. The Maze

Considered by some to be escape proof, the Maze was designed to be one of the toughest prisons in Europe. With it’s imposing 15 foot walls and deadly security, it might well have been. What they did not take into account was the dedication and out of box thinking of the IRA.

Using weapons smuggled in (“ohhh look, it’s a MAC-10 in me Lucky Charms”) to the cell blocks most of the guards were taken hostage before they could raise the alarm. A mere five minute miscalculation in timing led to only 35 prisoners escaping.

4. John Dillinger

This notorious gangster once escaped from an “inescapable” county jail using a wittled wooden gun covered in black shoe polish.

Once news spread of this daring escape, enrollment in state woodshop programs tripled over night.

3. Truck Break

In 2009 one prisoner hung back just enough to get behind prison guards and crawl under a truck. He then rode to freedom and turned himself back in a couple of days later.

Why go through all of that trouble if you are just going to turn yourself in? It is my theory that he must have left the faucet on at home. A water bill after a 10-20 year stretch would be expensive to say the least.

2. Helicopter Escape

What do you do when two previous escape attempts using a helicopter fail? Try, try again I always say.

And so does Pascal Payet, who with three other prisoners hijacked a helicopter and flew it to freedom. The four have not been heard from since.

1. The Great Escape from Alcatraz

After making dummies of themselves to fool guards during night checks three prisoners made their way through air ducts dragging with them homemade rafts which they then put into the water and used to get a few miles to shore.

Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin were presumed drown, but no proof was ever put forward either way. The FBI still has them on the wanted list today, just in case.

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