Originally Published March 31, 2020
If you already feel unsafe walking the streets at night, think about what inmates in prison have to deal with. Most of them live and breathe danger every waking second.
The fact that prisons are a hotbed for criminal activities is not surprising. After all, they are filled with people who have lived a life of crime. Many inmates are also suffering from mental health issues which contributes to their propensity to break the law. (Related: What is the Prison Experience Like?)
Despite crime being an everyday occurrence in prisons, some of them can still be shocking. Here are some of the most bizarre crimes committed in prison.
RAZOR BLADE MURDER
Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold gained a notorious reputation as teenage killers. At a young age, they lured a fellow teen to ride with them in the car. There they struck him with a chisel, gag him to death and poured acid on his lifeless body.
Both did not fit the profile of a murderer. They came from well-off and highly respected families. But when evidence implicated them, both confessed to the crime. They claimed to have done it only because they wanted to know how it feels to kill someone. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment.
On January 28, 1936, eleven years into their sentence, Loeb would meet his end. A fellow prisoner, James Day, snuck up on him in the shower and slit his throat. Though the act was brutal, the weapon itself was what made this crime to this list. Day used a razor blade which was given to him by a fellow inmate who also stole it.
Day said that he attacked Loeb in self-defense. He explained that Loeb had tried to sexually assault him and threatened him with the very same razor. But rumors say that it was out of jealousy as they were already having sexual relations before the murder.
The jury found Day not guilty in the murder. One jury even said it’s a good thing since the world has to get rid of homosexuals.
SAWN IN HALF
In May 2015, a horrific crime rocked the medium-security California State Prison. An inmate disappeared during a prison riot only to be found 15 hours later with his body sawn in half. (Related: Deadliest Prison Riots in History)
The autopsy report on the body of Nicholas Anthony Rodriguez revealed troubling information. It turns out that much of his internal organs were removed. The report further stated that he had alcohol in his system and that he was dead before he was eviscerated. Several blows to the head which caused multiple skull fractures is what caused his death.
Until now, the police had no idea who killed him. Or even how the murder was accomplished. They suspected that the riot was a ruse to conceal the crime. As to the motive, they still had no clue. They suspected his cellmate who was serving a life sentence for murder but evidence remained scant.
BEATEN TO DEATH WITH A BROKEN BROOMSTICK
Also dubbed as the “Milwaukee Monster”, Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted of murdering 17 people from 1978 to 1991.
Apart from strangling them, he also admitted to cannibalizing his victims. Most of whom were young gay African Americans. He was also known to have committed necrophilia and permanent preservation of body parts. His heinous acts earned him 16 terms of life imprisonment. (Related: New California Law Gives Hope to Mentally-Ill Offenders)
While inside the prison, inmates reportedly hated Dahmer very much. One morning in November 1994, he and two fellow inmates went to their assigned work detail. The three of them were left unattended to clean the showers in the prison gym.
Twenty minutes later, Christopher Scarver, one of the inmates who were with him then told a prison guard that he killed Dahmer and the other inmate. True enough, they found Dahmer’s body bludgeoned to death with a broken broom handle. His head also appeared to have been repeatedly struck against the wall. The other inmate was also attacked and died in the hospital two days later.
Just like his crimes, Dahmer’s death caused an uproar in the community and the whole country. Some say he deserved it while others cautioned that what happened to him is still murder. No matter what he did wrong.
The French have always liked to do things in style. And that includes escaping from prison.
In a move that’s almost straight out of a Hollywood movie, a gangster used a helicopter to escape out of a Paris prison. The escapee, Redoine Faid, was a serial bank robber serving 25 years for killing a police officer.
To carry out their jailbreak plan, two of his accomplices pretended to be flight school students. They then forced a helicopter instructor at gunpoint to fly them to prison. They landed in the courtyard and his accomplices stormed the prison.
The heavily-armed accomplices used smoke bombs and angle grinders to break through prison doors. In a matter of minutes, they were already whisking Faid to the waiting helicopter.
But this daring move wasn’t Faid’s first jailbreak attempt. Five years earlier, he used explosives hidden in tissue packs to blow off the door of another prison.
After escaping with the helicopter, Faid wore a burqa as a disguise during his time on the run. Fortunately, police got wind of his charade and raided his hideout at a fourth-floor apartment north of Paris. Three months after his dramatic escape, Faid was brought back to prison where he is now spending his days in isolation.
EL CHAPO’S TUNNEL
When people hear the name “El Chapo”, there are usually two kinds of reactions: admiration and disgust. Sometimes, it’s a combination of the two laced in with a good measure of fear.
We can’t blame them. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is one of the most high-profile drug lords in our time. His ruthlessness and escapades have been told and retold many times over in various newspaper articles. But what made him into a household name is his famous prison escape using a custom-made tunnel.
But this is not his first record of escape. In 2001, El Chapo bribed prison guards to sneak him out of prison in a laundry cart. The guards who aided his escape were imprisoned. But El Chapo would continue to evade the police for the next thirteen years.
When he was captured again in 2014, it did not take long before he made his infamous tunnel escape.
In July 2015, more than a year after he was arrested, prison guards discovered that he was missing. Upon checking the security cameras, he was last seen entering the shower area in his cell. When they went looking for him, they discovered that El Chapo had escaped using a tunnel.
Measuring at 1.7 meters tall, the tunnel led to a house construction site almost a mile away. It was apparent that the tunnel was well-planned. It had artificial light, air ducts, and was made of high-quality construction materials. They also found an abandoned motorcycle which was believed to have been used to transport goods and El Chapo himself.
This daring and innovative escape triggered a wide-range manhunt that lasted for months. He was arrested again in a highly-dramatic raid in January 2016. Because he had pending cases in the US, he was extradited to the country in 2017. Federal judges sentenced him to life imprisonment plus 30 years.
To this day, El Chapo remained a larger than life figure. His life was also featured in various movies and documentaries adding to his semi-legendary status.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Judy Ponio is a firm believer in the power of sharing knowledge. Having extensive experience in the prison industry, she wants to share what she knows with the world. Judy also loves to write about political and legal topics.