“Like a giant can opener … and he fell right through…”

John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted"...
John Walsh of “America’s Most Wanted” filming a segment for his show in the studios of the show in the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On March 26, 2002, inmate Raymond John Tudor was reported missing from the medium security Drumheller Institution, in Alberta.

You might assume that this was a simple case of a prisoner who jumped the walls and escaped custody, and would be recaptured after a day or two nearby. This story, however, I found particularly interesting.

The 48-year old double murderer was said to have a “shake and stutter” and many thought it was Parkinson’s disease. He had also neglected his beard and it looked quite straggly.  When he was reported missing, then, it was suggested that he had been planning the escape for years, and that once on the outside, he would shave and drop the pose.

For eight weeks he was hunted across North America, and was even profiled on “America’s Most Wanted” television show.

The police suspected he might show up in nearby Carseland, where Tudor had lived.  Some of the citizens were concerned as well, because they had testified against Tudor in court.  Many couldn’t understand what he was even doing in a medium security prison, having killed twice.

His escape was a mystery. Of course a full-scale search was done, but that failed to find him.   Apparently, there is only one place where an escape could theoretically be done, and it’s manned by officers who check everyone going in or out.  Basically, he would have had to climb a fence to get out of there.

But there is a big problem with that scenario: The fence is topped with flesh-ripping razors, and there are sensors, with alarms, on the ground and fence. These alarms were tested and they were working perfectly and weren’t triggered.

Then, finally, a prison employee eyed Tudor in the vent above him, while in the workshop!

High tech gear was brought in, such as thermal imaging, remote cameras, and sound equipment.  They even brought in a five-year old German Shepherd dog, Taz.  Sure enough, when Taz entered the workshop, he found the inmate hiding in the ductwork six metres high.  So the RCMP climbed onto the roof, sent in a remote camera, and pinpointed his location.  Then they cut a hole, and down he fell.

He was living mostly on cookies, and he lost 15 kilograms.  He had access to the washrooms at night when that part of the prison was closed!

The previous November, that same Institution suffered a riot where one prisoner was killed and had caused $1 million in damage.

If you would like to read more about this, I suggest CNN transcript archives, and an interesting discussion at Prison Talk, as well as Free Dominion.


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