• Robin Lyons

Master Manipulator


How would two murderous prison inmates escape from a maximum-security prison that nobody else had in over 100 years? Prison staff aided them—both civilian and sworn officers.


In a slow-moving, long-range, goal-focused plan, the first accomplice, a prison guard. One of the two inmates had learned (while incarcerated) how to paint photo-based portraits of celebrities, political figures, and fellow inmates’ loved ones. The level of artistic skill caught the eye of a 28-year veteran prison guard. In exchange for pieces of art, the guard gave him art supplies—although innocuous, providing anything to inmates violates the contraband policies. He also provided televisions to the inmate, an allowed practice. The inmates respected this guard.


The level of favors provided by the guard also included an escort from the job site (tailor shop) to the cell bypassing the metal detectors, access to areas behind the cell, advanced warning of cell searches, besides giving them a screwdriver and pliers.


Second accomplice: Civilian supervisor in the tailor shop where the two escapees worked. To quote Maya Angelou,


“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

The two inmates made the supervisor feel wanted, feel appreciated, feel special. The two inmates were smooth-talking, master manipulators.


Other civilian employees noticed the supervisor treated the two inmates more like co-workers or friends, not keeping her distance. When her immediate supervisor counseled her about boundaries, she filed a harassment complaint. When the supervisor criticized the women’s relaxed behavior in her performance evaluation, she filed a grievance.


She began taking the two inmates’ homemade food gifts and takeout burgers. Others observed the men and the supervisor flirting with each other. Some inmates cook in their cells, mostly through relaxed adherence to policies. When the supervisor asked the art-loving guard to take raw, frozen hamburger to the inmate’s cell, he did so without checking the raw meat for contraband. Had he cared enough to check, he would have found she had frozen chisels, a steel punch, drill bits, and hacksaw blades in the meat.


Only the three people, two inmates and one supervisor, knew that she had agreed to provide them with the tools to aid in their escape and be waiting for them when they climbed out of the man-hole outside the prison walls.


The night of the escape, the supervisor instead went to the hospital thinking she was having a heart attack from her level of anxiety. She hadn’t been waiting for them at the rendezvous point. A fellow inmate reportedly said her not showing up saved her life. He felt they’d kill her when they no longer needed her. Both men had committed heartless murders.


There is so much more to this case that I’d love to share, but in my promise to keep my summaries somewhat short, I’ll skip the manhunt, the inmates’ prior crimes, the romance, the supervisor’s family, and go straight to the outcome. If you have questions, let me know.


Before they captured the escapees, the authorities had already connected the supervisor’s participation in abetting during the prison-break. They arrested her six days after the escape. It took the search teams twenty days to locate the escapees. They shot and killed one inmate and re-arrested the other.


The guard lost his job, pleaded guilty to Promoting Prison Contraband and Official Misconduct. The court sentenced him to six months in county jail and fined him $5,000.


The civilian accomplice lost her job, pleaded guilty to Promoting Prison Contraband and Criminal Facilitation. The court sentenced her to a term of two to seven years in prison, plus pay almost $80,000 in restitution. After five years, the Department of Corrections gave her a conditional release. #hybristophilia #truecrime #prisoneescape


FYI: Hybristophilia, per the American Psychological Association, is a sexual interest in and attraction to those who commit crimes. Sometimes, this may be directed toward people in prison for various types of criminal activities.


Source: New York Office of the Inspector General, New Jersey.com-True Jersey, New York Times, Psychology Today, aetv True Crime

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