6 Escape from Florida Prison Killers Used Spoons, Hands to Dig Tunnel from Chapel to Fence

By Ap | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 4, 1995 | Go to article overview

6 Escape from Florida Prison Killers Used Spoons, Hands to Dig Tunnel from Chapel to Fence


Ap, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


While inmates sang and prayed at a prison chapel over the holidays, six killers working eight feet below tunneled their way to freedom.

Their escape Monday night from the state prison was discovered when the six men triggered alarms as they made their way under a razor-wire fence. Guards fired several shots at the men as they popped up from the ground, and one of the six was captured right away just outside the prison, 70 miles north of Miami. None was believed to have been hit by the gunfire.

Dozens of officers using dogs and helicopters searched for the others. The escapees may have buried themselves in the muck in the surrounding sugar cane fields or submerged themselves in irrigation ditches with pieces of cane for snorkels, said John Townsend, the prison's assistant superintendent.

The fugitives, all from Cuba, were serving life sentences for first-degree murder.

"This is a very dangerous situation," Townsend said. "They'll be looking to steal cars, break into houses for clothes."

The escapees tunneled their way out by digging into the soft soil with spoons and their hands. The tunnel ran about 60 feet from under the chapel, which is on stilts, to the prison's outer fence. It was 2 1/2 feet wide and ran 8 feet down, under a concrete slab along the fence.

In Belle Glade, a town of 17,200 three miles south of the camp, residents have seen other escapes by dangerous criminals over the years. …

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