The escape artist who duped a cop

Richard McNair, a prison escapee who was one of the U.S. Marshals Service’s 15 most wanted, wasMcnair recaptured this week in New Brunswick, Canada, but you can bet your last egg roll he’ll be out again.

During a 20-year career as a criminal Houdini, he escaped three U.S.
prisons, outsmarted authorities on both sides of the border and became
proficient at hopping moving trains, disappearing on the rails in a
puff of train smoke. …

When Mr. McNair was arrested for murder in 1987, county sheriffs left
him alone, handcuffed to a chair. He greased himself out of the irons
with lip balm and bolted. During his escape, he jumped off a roof,
missed a tree limb and fell to the ground where he was recaptured. [Link]

Lip balm? Is that all it takes to get out of handcuffs? I had no idea. I’ll have to keep that in mind, just in case my wife feels like doing something kinky.

No jail has been able to keep him — he’s broken out of a North Dakota
county jail in 1988, crawled to freedom through a state penitentiary
ventilation duct in 1992, and infamously escaped by mailing himself out
of a Pollock, La., maximum-security prison hidden under a pallet of
shrink-wrapped mailbags on April 5, 2006. [Link]

He mailed himself out of prison! Why put tattoos on yourself when you can put stamps?

Inmate: "Hey Bob, why do you have stamps all over yourself?"

McNair: "Isn’t it obvious? I’m a first-class male."

Perhaps McNair’s biggest feat was talking himself out of a near capture.

The day of his escape, Mr. McNair’s dark talents can be witnessed in
a police dashboard video as he outsmarts a Louisiana officer looking
for the missing convict.

He is wearing long shorts and a tank top
and tells the officer he’s a roofer named Robert Jones. He convinces
the cop he has no identification because he’s out jogging. He has an
answer for everything.

"What it is, we’ve got an escapee," the officer explains.

"There’s a prison here?" Mr. McNair asks.

The
chatty 10-minute interrogation, seen on YouTube, is a head-smacker. The
officer doesn’t have a full description, but what he has matches Mr.
McNair. Still, he is fooled.

"What’s your name again?" the officer asks.

"Jimmy Jones," Mr. McNair says. The officer doesn’t notice the name change.

"I’m no prison escapee."

"Hey,
you wouldn’t believe what them guys do. They’ve got years and years to
think about how they going to do it. When I crossed the tracks down
there and saw you running, I said, well how lucky can I be?" the
officer laughs, letting him go.

"Nope, nope, nope, nope. I’m not no prison escapee." [Link]

Let me get this straight: the officer spots McNair running (from the law), but McNair convinces the officer that he’s just jogging (from the law).

Toward the end of the must-watch video, McNair says to the officer, "I promise you I’m not no damn prison escapee." And the officer says, "You’d have done run by now. You know that yourself."

A minute or so later, McNair says, "I’m sorry to have to hold you up." And the officer says, "I’m just doing my job, man." Then he says, "Just be careful. You’ll probably get stopped again!"

I’ll say this about Louisiana cops: They may not be the smartest cops in the world, but they’re definitely the politest. If McNair had only asked, he could have gotten a ride just about anywhere, even to the post office.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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