As Edward Snowden flees an arrest warrant, and Wikileaks tweets updates on where he is and what he’s doing, I can’t help but wonder what other famous flights, escapes, and manhunts would have benefited from blow-by-blow tweets from insiders.
I realize that Snowden and Wikileaks don’t put themselves in the same category as most of these other great escape artists, so…well…sorry about that, guys. I’m just trying to imagine how cool it would be if we got more dramatic tweets from folks fleeing the long arm of the law — and fewer tweets about who Amanda Bynes is calling ugly today.
So in no particular order here goes:
1. The O.J. Simpson Slow Motion Chase In The White Bronco
If O.J. Simpson had been tweeting and driving, “I only loved Nicole” and “I’m the only one who deserves to be hurt” instead of just yapping about it from the back seat with a gun held to his own head, just think of the possibilities. Even if California couldn’t get him for murder, they could have always nailed him for tweeting and driving.
2. French Supercriminal Redoine Faid Blasts Out Of French Prison
In mid-April, the publicity-hungry master criminal who rose to fame for high-profile heists in France somehow detonated a series of bombs and took several guards hostage on his way out of a newish 2005-built Lille-Sequedin prison where he was awaiting trial in the killing of a 26-year-old policewoman.
I would have liked to read his tweets about the outrageous breakout just to answer the question: “How the heck does an entire prison ever allow an accused cop-killer to get their hands on high explosives?”
He remained free for weeks, not being recaptured until May 29. Here’s a video about Faid’s escape:
3. Just One Helicopter Prison Escape, That’s All I’m Asking, Lord
Organized crime leaders and other well-funded bad guys have been involved in a surprising number of dramatic helicopter prison escapes over the years, in countries as diverse as Canada, Belgium, Greece, and Reunion. It doesn’t even have to be a successful escape to make a great series of tweets.
How about a foiled attempt in February, where armed men in a helicopter lowered a ladder to try to free a 43-year-old convicted killer from a Greek prison? More than 500 rounds were reportedly fired during the attack. Now that’s pretty Hollywood for real life action.
The video shows a Quebec, Canada prison break:
4. The June 1962 Escape From Alcatraz
Three men attempted to swim away from San Francisco’s notorious Alcatraz prison and were never seen again, sparking a 17-years long investigation by the FBI that was closed without a result. The escape became one of the enduring mysteries of the 20th century. A simple tweet or two just to say, “Ha ha we made it” would have cleared up the mystery shown in this video in record time:
5. Ex-LAPD Cop Family Killer Christopher Dorner’s Manhunt
Instead of the long, rambling justification he called a manifesto, wouldn’t it have saved a lot of time and angst if Dorner had just tweeted his gripes in 140 characters or less? After his February shooting attacks on fellow police officers, Dorner became the subject of one of the largest Los Angeles Police Department manhunts ever and eventually died at his own hand when he was surrounded.
6. The Beltway Sniper Manhunt for John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo
The DC Snipers killed 11 and terrorized the entire DC and Virginia area. As long as they were uncaught, they were hailed as masters of evasion and escape. Once they were found, people couldn’t help noticing that these two masters criminals were, well, not all that bright.
If they’d been tweeting their escapades all along, we might have caught on to that fun fact a lot sooner. Instead, we had to wait for their bizarre Tarot card messages to let us know they were idiots.
7. Frank Abagnale’s Escape From Federal Prison In Atlanta
The story goes that the Catch Me If You Can con artist escaped from federal detention by posing as an undercover agent who was placed in prison to check out the conditions. Yeah, right. He then presented a business card provided by his girlfriend — and the gullible guards let him waltz free.
I would have loved a blow-by-blow tweet of this 1971 escapade just to see how much of the tall tale is actually true.
8.The Texas Seven
In December 2000 seven men in the John B. Connally Unit maximum security prison near Kenedy, Texas overwhelmed multiple guards, other prisoners, and other workers to escape. A few tweets might have cleared up the mystery of how the same men who carried out this well-planned escape then managed to completely screw up their new life in the free world, which came to an inglorious end a month later as a direct result of a report on TV’s America’s Most Wanted.
9. Justin Bieber After-Concert Johannesburg Heist
There have been several high-profile heists committed lately by well-organized, apparently well-financed teams that have gotten away with millions. The 2013 Cannes Film Festival was hit by not one, but two, million dollar heists — one of a $2.6 million diamond necklace and the other $1.4 million in gems. Ouch.
But if only one of those million-dollar masterminds would tweet only one time, I’d pick the behind-the-scenes look at the incredible post-concert Johannesburg, South Africa heist which may have made away with the take from Justin Bieber’s May performance at FNB Stadium.
But the all-time, most tweetable escape story must be the exciting and perhaps even true memoir Papillon by Henri Charriere, who described a crazy escape from a prison colony in French Guiana after he was convicted of an admittedly sleazy pimp murder in France. This prison escape story from 1931 to the mid-1940s had everything, including a shipwreck and life with a local tribe in South America.
Talk about a tale worth the tweeting. Not everybody gets his memoir made into a movie where his role is played by Steve McQueen.
Even with Wikileaks to tweet his great escape, Edward Snowden probably can’t top that.
[Alcatraz photo by Ben Peoples via Wikimedia]