Interview with an Escapee from a Maximum Security Jail, a reform school buddy

With jail/prison escapes in the news, this seems relevant — an old acquaintance from a bad boys home gave me a detailed break down on how he escaped, it was crazy and ingenious and probably instructive for jailers.

Mick (he didn’t want his real name used) engineered a complicated escape from a jail in Nassau County, New York that landed him on the front page. He took along a  career criminal (now deceased), and a man awaiting murder charges; that man, Shi Fu Huang,  once featured on America’s Most Wanted, is still at large.


I interviewed Mick years ago when we were adults.  As teenagers Mick and I were actually in the same program for not good boys.  Today (2010) he is in a prison upstate New York doing 25 years.  Upstate in prison he tried suicide — don’t you wonder what happened to those bad ass cool as hell thrill seekers who don’t join special forces, the guys from high school who were so mature before we were. Too damn cool, too damn good, he felt alone and like a master of the universe and then they crash. Care for the kid — there were many like him.

# # #

Mick sent out an envelope to somebody under legal mail to a PO box, put a bunch of papers in it, sealed it with toothpaste.  The person who received it put hacksaw blades in the binding of what looked like a legal document.

After the receiver wiped the toothpaste off, they sealed it for real and brought it to a post office and said this package is not for me.  The post office stamped return to sender and it got shipped back to jail.  So the CO goes, Hey you got mail, you must have the wrong zip code or something.  Usually they open the legal mail in front of you.  I said, Let me just get the right zip and he just left it on the bars and he said when you get it just send it back out.  Okay, thanks.

Took a week and a half to get a metal grill (a quarter inch of steel welded to the wall) off; the vent  at the top right corner of the cell – – stood on toilet, put up a sheet across his cell when he was working on vent.

Not supposed to put sheets up but everybody does anyway for going to the bathroom COs come around every 15 minutes, you know when they’re coming.

The steel is painted green, the blade was scratching the paint off the wall and the grate – – took green Palmolive soap, smashed it in a sock into a powder, put it in hot water made a paste out of it and painted on the wall.

Heavy duty fan on the roof that sucks the air out, lot of suction, a lot of people put a piece of newspaper over their vent because it’s so strong that it gets cold in the cell.  Mick took a wooden chessboard, glued a piece of newspaper to it with toothpaste (prison glue) and put the chessboard up in the hole kept up with suction; by the indentation it looked like the vent was still there.

A week to cut the grill, 4 days to cut the box that was behind the grill.

Took them six weeks to get out.

Went up and down about 50 times over the course of this period before they escaped.  Working every night from 12 to 6 a.m. – – towards the end he would work during the day which was risky but he was getting paranoid.

Up on the top there was bars in front of the fan, a foot long and then a centerpiece, then crossbars – –  cut one bar only a little hole, but such a tedious task, blades starting to wear down, cut one side of the bar, tied a sheet on it, made a loop and stood on the sheet and bent the bar down.

Noticed rust on the bottom of a steel door, cut along the bottom lip and then used a weight bar as a lever to pry, peel the face of the door right off.  Also used a motor as a lever, stood on it and just kept jumping on the bar and the door curled up just like a sardine can would.

He used to do it for half hour runs, go up come back down, be seen, go back up for a little while.

500-foot spool of telephone wire, ran a loop of it into Huang’s cell, ran it all the way up five flights into that room.  In the middle of the night Huang would stand watch and if anybody came or looked suspicious, Huang would yank on the cord.

Shimmy a little bit, get onto a catwalk, shimmy some more, get onto another.

Had five hacksaw blades, kept them stashed in the pipe chase

Put a spare door in front of the ripped up door, propped it up with chairs.

Fire hoses, one on every floor, in the back of the pipe chase.

Monday night football was on, usually they lock in at 10:00, everybody wasn’t required to lock in until game was over, so it gave them a better head start.


The Day of the Escape

Put the fire hoses (3) in penthouse that day.  Climbing behind everyone’s cell, learned how to saw quietly.

He created a hole in the door, propped a door on the inside so hole wouldn’t be visible.

On the roof now, he knew guards were watching Monday night football, he knew about spring lever on all doors which set off alarms.

Six story drop, approximately 60 feet.

Walked down the side of the building like Batman and Robin, brought socks to hold the hose and for the concertina wire.

He left in long johns with shorts over them and a grey sweatshirt.

Walking down he could see into the portholes into the tiers. Huang said Sayonara motherfuckersI was fucken dying, told him to shut up, while rappelling down.

18-foot fence,  rolls of concertina wire on the ground, in the middle, and three on the top.

Went to a gate where there was a chain, pulled it apart, stood on the chain, climbed through halfway and squeezed through, all the razor ribbon didn’t mean shit.

Got into the visitors parking lot.

Says you don’t really get cut up going through razor wire, getting down off of it is really where you get sliced up.

Ran into the park, no talk, they just followed after him,

Used code words we’re done writing the book, we’re at the last chapter to communicate.

Mick says he was getting in shape weeks before this.

In the parking lot all three jumped into a car  Mick kept bring up fake conversation points:  Damn, I can’t believe we lost that game by 6 points, pretending they were coming from the park playing basketball. 

Driver was suspicious, None of us looked like we were playing basketball —  old guy half blind, Chinese guy, me – – we looked like the Three Stooges, nervous as hell.

Contact guy was in the car with them.

We thought we’d be detected right away, we had no idea they wouldn’t know for 17 hours, If I had known that I would’ve went to all my friends houses.

On the Run

Dropped Huang in Manhattan.

He was like, Thanks man.  I was like, Take it easy.  It was sad in a way.  I knew he would never get caught – – his people, his connections were too good, he was fucken out of the country within the day.

Went to Pergaments, stole a screwdriver.  Went into the parking lot, found a car that had tilt steering and stole it.

I didn’t want to be on the run, I kept thinking about my mother worrying.  At that point I didn’t know what the hell I was going to do.

Was spotted by police going into a pizza place.  High speed car chase down the parkway, they crashed into him.  Police helicopters, cars pulling down exit ramps, cars coming down embankments, All kinds of crazy shit, they were coming from everywhere.

Mick jumped out of the car, ran across the parkway  and hid up in a tree, hid in a tree for three hours.

Police caught him and took him to the precinct.

If you would’ve seen the convoy of cars bringing me to police headquarters, it looked like ten presidents were going to a funeral, helicopter escorts, they’re must’ve been, I swear, sixty fucken cars in line, lights flashing – –  it was insane.


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