Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • You would think breaking out of prison would be  difficult, but a man named Steven Jay Russell  

  • made it look easy. He escaped from prison not  just once, but four different times. How did  

  • he do it? You're probably thinking that Russell  couldn't have just walked out, but that is exactly  

  • what he did on two different occasions. And you  won't believe how he escaped the other two times!

  • Steven Russell started his criminal career ascon artist. As the police would find out later,  

  • he was really good at what he did. Russell's  first major con was something simple,  

  • but would end up evolving intolifetime of making the authrorties  

  • look incompetent. It would also result  in him getting 144 years in jail.

  • In the 1990's Russell faked a slip and fall to  collect on insurance money for a big pay day.  

  • However, upon investigation, his con was  uncovered and he was convicted for fraud.  

  • Russell was sentenced to six months  in prison, but he had no intention  

  • of staying incarcerated for that long. This  would be the first time he would use his con  

  • artist abilities to get out of jail early. Inway, his first escape was a tragic love story.

  • Steven Russell was in love with a man named  Jimmy Cambell who was dying from AIDS. They  

  • had been together when he was caught for  fraud, and Russell had no desire to let  

  • the man he loved go through the terrible  disease alone. So, Russell did the only  

  • thing he could. He escaped from prison so that  he could be by Cambell's side until the end.

  • Russell had been in jail for only four weeksbut he was so in love with Jimmy Cambell  

  • that he couldn't wait any longer. The conman  concocted a scheme that would allow him to walk  

  • right out of the prison without a single person  noticing he was missing, until he was long gone.  

  • While in jail Russell had stolen street clothes  that had been discarded. He then confiscated a  

  • walkie talkie to complete his escape disguiseHe hid the items away until the time was right.

  • When no one was looking, and the guards  were preoccupied, Russell donned the  

  • civilian clothing he had stashed awayclipped the walkie talkie to his side,  

  • and made his way through the prison as if  he was an undercover cop. Clearly no one was  

  • worried that a man in regular clothes was walking  around the prison without proper identification,  

  • since Russell made his way to  the exit and walked right out.

  • He then proceeded to locate Jimmy Cambell and  stay by his side until his lover eventually  

  • passed away from the virus. Russell mourned, but  continued to do what he was good at: being a con  

  • artist. However, something unexpected happened  as Russell flew under the police's radar: he  

  • fell in love again. The name of Russell's second  love interest may sound familiar to you, Phillip  

  • Morris. The reason you may have heard his name  before is because of the movie “I Love You Phillip  

  • Morrisstarring Jim Carrey. The movie is based  off of the next part of Steven Russell's life.

  • After the death of his former loverSteven Russell conned his way into a  

  • CFO job at a medical management firm. He had  no experience as a chief financial officer,  

  • or in the medical field. He also had a fraud  conviction, but to a conman like Russell that was  

  • all easily hidden or covered up. Russell knew he  was wildly unqualified for the job, but he wasn't  

  • there to move up the corporate ladder; instead  he planned to steal money from the company.

  • He persuaded Phillip Morris to join in  on his scheme. They managed to embezzle  

  • $800,000 from the company before it all came  to an end. The authorities discovered what  

  • Steven Russell was doing and who he wasThey immediately put him under arrest and  

  • set his bond at $950,000. This was an  excessively high bail for embezzlement,  

  • but the police knew Russell was a flight  risk and didn't want him skipping town.

  • However, Russell has no desire to spend  more time in jail. He had gotten out once,  

  • and he wasn't about to let the authorities cage  him up again. The first hurdle he had to overcome  

  • was lowering the incredibly high bail that the  court set for his release. While in prison,  

  • he called the county clerk claiming to be the  judge of his own case. He told the clerk's  

  • office that there had been a mistake, and  Steven Russell's bail should be lowered to  

  • $45,000. Russel called the clerk, impersonated  the judge who was in charge of his case,  

  • lowered his own bail, and did it all  from within the walls of the prison.

  • The clerk changed the bail to the much  more manageable amount of $45,000,  

  • which allowed Russsell to pay itwith the help  of friends. He made bail, left the prison,  

  • and before anyone could figure out that they'd  been conned, Russell fled to Florida. His  

  • reasoning for pulling off this escape was so that  he could spend time with the new love of his life,  

  • Phillip Morris. There were a couple patterns  that defined Steven Russell during this time of  

  • his life. The first was that he was really good  at getting out of jail. The second was that he  

  • was a hopeless romantic. His escapes seemed to  all center around being with the man he loved.

  • Eventually the authorities tracked down  Russell in Florida. When he was arrested,  

  • his sentence was much longer than the  previous one. This time he got 45 years  

  • in prison. Phillip Morris also received  jail time for aiding and abetting Russell,  

  • but his sentence was for a much shorter period  of time. If Morris was going to be out of jail,  

  • Russell wanted to be by his side. You can  probably guess what Steven Russell did next.

  • In order to rejoin the man he loved in the  outside world, Russell needed to get out of jail,  

  • and he certainly was not going to wait 45  years to do so. Once again Russell would  

  • walk right out the front door of the prison  without so much as a minor conflict. And this  

  • wasn't just any prison, Russell was being  held at the Maximum Security Estelle Unit  

  • to make sure he wouldn't escape again. You  won't believe how he pulled this one off.

  • Russell discreetly started to collect green  markers from around the prison. He would hide them  

  • on his person and bring them back to his cellHe also managed to steal an extra generic prison  

  • uniform. The guards of the prison wouldn't just  let someone in a prison uniform walk out, but they  

  • would let someone wearing medical scrubs leave the  prison unquestioned. It seems that the guards and  

  • the medical staff at prisons don't always know one  another, so when Russell used the green markers to  

  • dye the prison uniform, it looked just like a pair  of scrubs that the medical staff were wearing.

  • Perhaps the most surprising part of this escape  was that Russell was being held at a maximum  

  • security prison, and yet, he was still able to  walk right out the front gate. After his escape,  

  • Russell had one thing on his mind: to find  Phillip Morris and be with him again. Once Russell  

  • tracked down his lover they ran away to BiloxiMississippi where they hoped to live peacefully  

  • away from the Texan authorities that were now  scouring the country for the escaped conman.

  • Unfortunately for Russell and Morris, they  were eventually caught and returned to  

  • prison. This time Steven Russell was tried for  unlawful escape, which added another 45 years  

  • to his sentence. Once again Russell found  himself separated from the man he loved.  

  • At this point Russell must have been tired  of tricking the authorities and having them  

  • chase him all around the country, so his  final escape would need to be conducted  

  • in a way that ensured the police wouldn't come  after him. Steven Russell knew just what to do.

  • Russell figured that the only way the  police would ever leave him alone was  

  • if he was dead. So, he planned his own  death. This way he could live a long,  

  • happy, life with Phillip Morris without  worrying about the bothersome authorities.

  • Russell did not waste any time once  he was recaptured. He must have known  

  • Phillip Morris would be released long  before he was, so he set his plan in  

  • motion almost immediately. He needed to make  his fake death as convincing as possible,  

  • so every day he took laxatives to cause  his body weight to drop and make himself  

  • seem ill. He also managed to do something  that has not been explained to this day.

  • Russell somehow got a hold of his medical  records, and was able to change them to  

  • indicate that he had HIV. Steven Russell did  not have HIV, nor should he have had access  

  • to his own official medical records, this  may have been one of his greatest cons yet.

  • At this point Steven Russell looked almost likecorpse. His skeleton was showing under his skin,  

  • and he was at an unhealthy weight. Not  only did he physically not look well,  

  • but his medical records now falsely backed  up that Russell was very sick. In March of  

  • 1998 Steven Russell was sent to hospice where the  authorities figured he would live out the rest of  

  • his short life, and they would finally be rid of  the conman who embarrassed them once and for all.

  • In a hospice facility, even one that contains  prisoners, the security is relatively relaxed.  

  • No one expects emaciated, dying, inmates to  make an escape. But, Russell was not dying,  

  • in fact, he wasn't even sick. Russell  waited for the ideal moment, and then  

  • walked out of the hospital to freedom. To  ensure that the Texas authorities wouldn't  

  • bother him again he even forged his own death  certificate and sent it to the Texas courts.

  • Unfortunately for Steven Russell, he  had embarrassed the Texas authorities  

  • one to many times. Not everyone believed he was  dead. The authorities had been tricked before,  

  • and they were not about to let this con  man trick them again. They dug deep to  

  • make sure that Russell was in fact  dead, and this was not just another  

  • one of his cons. They soon discovered that  Steven Russell had once again duped them.  

  • Understandably upset, the Texas authorities  launched a manhunt to track down Steven Russell.

  • They found Russell down in Florida where  he was captured in Fort Lauderdale. This  

  • time when they arrested him, the police made  sure he would never escape and embarrass them  

  • again. Steven Russell was sentenced  to 144 years in prison. 45 years for  

  • the original embezzlement charges, and 99  additional years for his escapes. That is  

  • a long time to put someone in jail when  the crimes committed were non-violent.

  • But the authorities were not satisfied yetSteven Russell now spends 23 hours a day in  

  • solitary confinement at the Polunsky Unit in  Texas. He only gets an hour for recreation and  

  • shower time, where he is carefully watched  to make sure he doesn't escape again. Does  

  • this punishment fit the crime? Probably notbut it would seem the Texas authorities were  

  • so embarrassed by Russell's escapes that  they needed to make an example out of him.

  • In interviews Steven Russell recounted his final  intake process. He was stripped completely naked  

  • where he was thoroughly examined for  anything that was hidden on his body,  

  • including in uncomfortably personal places. He  then was told to put his boxers back on and sit  

  • in a chair so his head could be shavedAfter the physically invasive process,  

  • he was sent to the prison psychiatrist for  a mentally invasive interview. Some of the  

  • questions asked of Russell were: “Where have you  been since you left our custody? What were you  

  • doing? Were you in contact with Phillip MorrisDid you do drugs? Are you still a homosexual?”

  • Then, before he was transported to solitary  confinement where he would spend the rest of his  

  • life, he was stripped naked and searched once more  to make sure he did not steal anything while being  

  • interviewed. Steven Russell is still in solitary  confinement with limited visitor privileges,  

  • and only one hour of recreation a day. “I Love  You Phillip Morrisis based off of his escapes  

  • and love for a man he will most likely never see  again. Russell says that he only has himself to  

  • blame for his sentence, and that he understands  why Phillip Morris has not come to visit him since  

  • his final arrest. Some activist groups question  whether the sentence of 144 years in solitary  

  • confinement fits the crimes that Steven Russell  committed. It would seem that embarrassing the  

  • Texas authorities over and over again is one  way to get a lifetime sentence in prison.

  • Now check outThe Most Insane Ways  Men Escaped from Prison.” Or watch  

  • Man Escapes Prison Four Times - The  Japanese Houdini (Yoshie Shiratori).”

You would think breaking out of prison would be  difficult, but a man named Steven Jay Russell  

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 russell prison steven phillip morris escape

How a Prisoner Simply Walked Out of Prison

  • 15 0
    Summer posted on 2021/06/08
Video vocabulary