Convicted Murderer Calvin Adams Has Broken Out Of Prison Twice

Photo: getty
Convicted Murderer Calvin Adams Has Broken Out Of Prison Twice

It was a panic situation at an Arkansas prison this week when a convicted murderer went missing. Correction officers realized that Calvin Adams wasn't in his cell during a routine roll call and launched a search for the missing prisoner. For two days, state and federal officers looked for the man both on and off prison grounds. The tension was heightened because this was not Adams' first attempt at breaking out of prison. In 2009, he and another inmate successfully escaped from the facility before being apprehended in New York more than 1,000 miles away. The escape led to corrections officers losing their jobs and major changes in the prison. 

Now, Adams has pulled off another escape from prison. Who is Calvin Adams and where did he go? 

1. Capital murder in 1994

Adams was convicted of a heinous murder and attempted murder. KAIT TV reports that in 1994, Adams kidnapped Richard Austin and his pregnant wife, Cassandra, in an effort to rob the Leachville State Bank where Austin worked. When they got to the bank, Adams learned that Austin didn't have access to the vault so he took the couple to a remote area and shot them both. Richard Austin died. Cassandra, though injured, walked a mile to get help. Adams then went back and set the couple's car on fire. He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole. 

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2. First prison break

In 2009, Adams and another inmate made a successful attempt at escape. The AP reports that on May 29, 2009, Adams and Jeffrey Grinder, who was also serving life without parole for capital murder, put on guard uniforms and walked out of the building during the change of shift. At the time, uniforms were manufactured at the prison so they were able to put their disguises together fairly easily. No staff members recognized them as they left the prison. Once they got out of the perimeter, they drove away in a car that was left for them in the prison’s parking lot. They were arrested in New York four days later. Adams was convicted of escape and had six years added on to his sentence. After the two men were returned to prison and more was learned about their escape, guards were fired and another was disciplined. They also moved uniform production out of the prison. Officials at the time said escapees had not received help from correction officers.

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3. Not a model prisoner

In addition to the 2009 escape, Adams has had disciplinary infractions while serving his sentence. His Arkansas Department of Corrections record lists a number of misdeeds including possession of contraband and lying to a staff member in January 2019. His record also lists an escape violation in January, but it wasn't anything as dramatic as the 2009 incident. Spokesperson Dina Tyler explained that it was for being where he wasn’t supposed to be and not an escape from the facility.

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4. Massive search effort

In an email to reporters, spokesperson Dina Tyler said that Adams turned up missing at the 4:30am roll call on Monday. Once they realized he wasn't in the building, efforts to find him commenced. 

Tyler said that the search was wide-ranging. “We are going from two fronts...one that he’s laid down somewhere on the grounds and one that says he got out and is running,” Tyler wrote. Tyler confirmed to the New York Times that hundreds of law enforcement officers from the state police, United States Marshals Service and local agencies were engaged in the search process. They called out teams of search dogs, officers mounted on horses, as well as cars, helicopters, and drones outside. Teams also searched the prison grounds, including pipes and vents. There was no plan to stop even after nightfall.

The state confirmed the escape.

5. A false trail followed

There was no footage of Adams leaving the prison grounds — the electrified fence surrounding the prison has only two gates and the cameras there did not reveal him passing through either one. However, a canine team thought it caught the scent of Adams Monday morning. Tyler said the dogs “led us to a post office about a mile and a half away as the crow flies, but we don’t think that was him because we found it was a common contraband route.” 

6. Caught on prison property

Early Tuesday morning, prison officials called off the search. Adams was found still inside the electric fences of the prison. “He was found about 8:30 this morning,” Tyler wrote in an email to reporters. “He was on the roof of the prison hiding under a ventilation hood. He never left the property.”

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Adams was captured on Tuesday morning. 

Tyler noted that the unit where Adams had been housed was a medium-security facility. He will be moved to maximum security now that he has been found and returned to custody. 

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.