Chances are pretty good they’ll be caught in short order.
Why? They’re male, to start with.
Every so often we hear of an escaped convict who made the break only to be found years later, living a peaceful life as an upstanding member of a community, usually far away from the prison.
Most of the time – not all of course – they’re female.People don’t seem to fall apart when it’s a female escapee. In a CNN splash on the escape, the news group pronounces a dozen top manhunts. All are male.
Think of Sarah Pender, the convicted murderer who broke out of an Indiana prison in 2008. She stayed gone for 136 days, befuddling everyone. In the book Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender, I outline how she eluded the cops and how she spent her four months of freedom.
She did in best by blending in. She found a guy who would help her out but the couple cavorted in casinos, ate in restaurants, and she worked a job as a bookkeeper for a Chicago construction firm.
“Everyone thinks of escaping; they just won’t admit it.”
Pender told that to a TV crew in 2009, not long after she was captured after spending 136 days on the run.
Of course. Who doesn’t want to escape from prison?
It’s a little easier than anyone wants to admit. Pender was trading sex to a guard, Scott Spitler, who provided her with some civilian clothes, a cell phone with which to coordinate her break and, as a parting gift, drove her through the gates in the back of a prison van.
Spitler got eight years in 2009 for assisting. He served in county jail, an easier place to deal with. The authorities claimed it was for his protection.
From the book, Girl Wanted:
Sarah Pender had outwitted an entire prison system that is designed to avoid exactly such flights and had done so with a plan so simple, yet flawless, that it took two hours for prison staffers to determine that she was gone. The usual head count at 4 p.m. showed one prisoner short. As according to policy, a second count was done and again showed one inmate short.
At that point, all inmates were ordered back to their dorms for a one-by-one count. It was a top bunk along the south side that was empty in one dormitory: Sarah Pender was gone.
And the caper also had serendipity all over it. Sarah walked past an unmanned security checkpoint. New security cameras were slated to be installed the week after her brazen walkout, cameras that might have caught her in the act. The gate allowing her to meet Spitler was open. The guard at the gate leaving the prison failed to conduct a search of the van in which she was hiding, allowing her to leave the facility grounds. It was a festival of incompetence and corruption, and Sarah was both the leader and beneficiary of the fiasco.
Steve Miller is an investigative reporter with over two decades of experience in daily newspaper, Web and magazine reporting and writing. Miller has done time as a court and cops beat reporter at the Dallas Morning News and as a national reporter for the Washington Times, and as a correspondent for national publications including People magazine, High Times, Boston Magazine, Miami New Times, Houston Press, The Daily Beast and U.S. News and World Report. In 2012, he was an Edgar award finalist for his book, Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender. He is a recipient of the digital investigative award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Miller was also the former vocalist in the Midwest punk rock outfit the Fix in 1980-81.
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