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Laing and Williams

On April 7th, 1989, Arnold Laing, and Martin Williams, escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. They had been planning their escape for many years, and had utilised a false internal relationship in order to achieve their goals. Mary Virginia, a 46-year-old prison guard, who had been in the job no more than a year, aided and abetted the two men in their escape.

Over the course of her working life as a guard in the prison, Mary would provide Laing and Williams with prison blueprints, plans, shift changes, and guard rotas, as well as other sensitive information. She also smuggled in tools and other items that would ensure a smooth escape.

Over the course of a few weeks, it is believed that Laing and Williams used power tools to cut holes in the back of their adjacent cells, which led to a three story high catwalk full of tunnels and air conditioning pipes. The catwalk provided access to various escape routes out of the prison. After cutting into a two-foot wide pipe, they travelled 600 feet inside the pipe and escaped through a manhole in the town of Dannemora.

Mary Virginia who had planned to rendezvous with the pair and provide a getaway vehicle, as well as money, and options to leave the country, was reprimanded upon finishing her shift that day, after a note was left inside the cell of Martin Williams that simply read "thank you Mary, we couldn't have done this without you."

Six weeks after the escape, police caught up with Williams, and he was gunned down outside a motel after he pulled a weapon on the responding officers.

Arnold Laing however, was nowhere to be found. On the day of the escape, a second note was found inside Laing's cell that contained the image of a "Z". There were no accompanying words or statements.


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