Oklahoma Murderer Once Escaped Prison For The Third Time By ‘Mailing Himself Out’

by : Julia Banim on : 16 Aug 2020 15:14
Oklahoma Murderer Once Escaped Prison For The Third Time By 'Mailing Himself Out'United States Marshals Service

A convicted murderer from Oklahoma once managed to escape prison for the third time by quite literally ‘mailing himself out’.

Richard Lee McNair was given two life sentences for murder and attempted murder – on top of a 30-year sentence for burglary – after a botched burglary attempt at a grain elevator in November 1987.


That night, McNair was disturbed by two men. One of the men, truck driver Jerome Theis, tragically died after being shot by McNair. The other ended up with gunshot injuries but thankfully survived the ordeal.

EscapeUnited States Marshals Service

McNair would go on to gain notoriety for his three successful escape attempts, which ultimately ended up landing him in a supermax prison. His first escape came shortly after his initial arrest in February 1988, and wasn’t quite as complicated as the two others he would one day go on to plan.

While handcuffed to a chair at the Minot police station in a room with three detectives, McNair managed to use a tube of lip balm to grease up his hands, allowing him to slip out of his handcuffs when the officers left him alone.


A chase around the town on foot ensued, with McNair ultimately leading officers into a building and up a few flights of stairs to the third floor. Surrounded, he decided to leap, injuring his back and making it easier for cops to catch him.

Many criminals would have given up hope of escape after this. But McNair – who was described as ‘keenly intelligent’ in a 2007 NBC News report – was just getting started.

EscapeUnited States Marshals Service

While serving out his sentence at the North Dakota State Penitentiary in October 1992, McNair and two other inmates managed to slip out of the prison through a ventilation duct.


This bid for freedom was significantly more successful, and McNair wasn’t recaptured until July 1993, more than one year later. After finally being caught, McNair was taken to the high security US Penitentiary in Louisiana. However, not even this could stop him from making a third and final escape.

While working at the prison repairing old mailbags, McNair managed to construct a small pod for himself, and on April 5, 2006, he was able to hide beneath a pile of mailbags being transported from the prison by forklift.

Incredibly, a police officer actually spotted McNair running across the tracks that day, and the two shared a laugh that he matched up closely with a description of an escaped prisoner.

You can check out McNair coolly deceiving the police officer below:


The officer ultimately let him go, advising him to carry ID with him next time he went for a jog. McNair was then able to make his way across the border into Canada, evading recapture for about a year and a half.

McNair was eventually caught by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police 100 miles north of the border in Campbellton, New Brunswick, on October 24, 2007 while driving a stolen truck. He had grown a full moustache and beard by this time, and possessed multiple fake IDs.

After eventually admitting to his true identity, McNair was placed in a maximum security prison in a supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. There has, so far at least, been no reports of a fourth escape attempt.


If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Most Read StoriesMost Read


Prince Andrew Reportedly Flew With Alleged ‘Sex Slave’ Who Was ‘Frozen With Fear’, Court Hears

Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Life, escape, Now, Oklahoma, prison


NBC News and 1 other
  1. NBC News

    N.D. Fugitive Known For Creative Escapes Nabbed

  2. Losvatoslocos/YouTube

    Prison Escapee Convinces Cop He is Actually a Jogger