The Eureka May 1898

A Shrewd Device Fails

Last Monday about five o'clock in the afternoon two convicts made an adroit escape from the penitentiary though their liberty was of short duration. It seems that Guard Meek was in charge of fifteen men who were sprouting potatoes in the basement of the woman's building. The men were in two adjoining sections of the cellar and the guard paced back and forth between them. J. J. Bliss, Woodbury county, incarcerated here October 8, 1896, for seven years for burglary, and Albert Ray, of Scott, for the same offense, slipped out and by means of a ladder obtained access to the apartment above where all the clothing of convicts received at the prison is kept and given to them on their release. They quickly arrayed themselves in citizens' suits, calmly passed through the clerk's office into the hall and requested A. J. James, Warden Hunter's secretary, to let them out, he being the inner turnkey while the potato sprouting force was at work. Clerk Mallory was busy in his office with a traveling man but as the two convicts closed the office door his suspicions were excited and he went after the men. They were just passing out and he commanded a halt, but they ran southeast, through the park. Mr. Patterson was in the clerk's office at the time and he started presumably for the deputy's office inside, but suddenly changing his mind for some reason, turned about to retrace his steps, slipping and falling on the pavement running north to the entrance to the turnkey's office. The shock to his spinal column was very severe and Mr. Patterson is in a serious, though it is hoped, not a dangerous condition. The guard missed his two men, lined up the rest and started for headquarters.

In the meantime the convicts were flying towards the cemetery, with boys and men after them, George Wilber, aged 15, being in the lead and a yelling all the time like a Comanche Indian. W. H. Davis, the deputy warden's clerk, is something of a flyer himself, and as he neared the bank of the river below the cemetery, the two men plunged in. Davis commanded them to return, with the alternative of being fired upon. One of the men could not swim and was on the point of drowning when the other went to his assistance and both soon came shivering out of the water.

Warden Hunter informs us that he proposes to have the men indicted under the code. which provides that an attempt to escape from prison is punishable with an increase of sentence to the extent of five years in addition to the terms for which the convict was first incarcerated.