WTF Fun Fact 12727 – Steven Jay Russell Escaped Prison Multiple Times

Steven Jay Russell has had 14 aliases, but the conman will always be remembered by his real name because, despite all his cons, he has always been caught. Oh, and they made a movie about him!

Russell also has some nicknames, such as “King Con” or perhaps the more apt “Houdini,” since he seems to slip out of jail quite often. Four times to be exact (although, to be fair, once it was from a hospital while he was in police custody).

He’s currently serving his 144-year jail sentence for a litany of non-violent charges, including felony escape and embezzlement.

His life of crime began in 1992 when he was being held at Harris County Jail in Houston for making a false insurance claim that said he injured his back. Disguising himself as a repairman, he got access to a walkie-talkie, which he used to simply waltz right out the front door, despite it being guarded.

When he was caught, he was sent to a Texas prison where he met his long-time love, Phillip Morris. When the pair was released (Russell was released on parole), Russell wanted to give his partner a lavish lifestyle. That’s when he managed to get himself a job as the chief financial officer at a medical insurance company.

Over the next five months, he managed to embezzle them out of $800,000, which he spent on cars, Rolexes, and even some cosmetic surgery. Then he was caught.

This time, Russell escaped from police custody instead of jail (so, technically, he has 5 escapes under his belt). He impersonated a judge over the phone, asking that his bail be reduced from $900k to just $45k. It worked – and Russell paid the less bail with a check. Of course, the check bounced. He was caught when trying to get back in touch with Morris.

The Guardian explained his third escape after interviewing him:

“Three years later, he stockpiled green felt-tip pens from prison art classes, squeezing the ink from the cartridges into a sink of water and dying his overalls the colour of surgical gowns. ‘You have to be very careful because if you wring them out, you get streaks in the material,’ he says matter-of-factly. Underneath the makeshift medical clothes, Russell taped several plastic bags tightly to his body so that police dogs would not be able to follow his scent once he was on the run. He picked a moment when the woman manning the front desk was on the telephone and then, unquestioned by prison staff, simply walked out ‘dressed like Dr Kildare.'”

The fourth escape occurred on March 20, 1998 (a Friday the 13th – in fact, all of Russell’s escapes took place on Friday the 13th!). Russell posed as a millionaire from Virginia to get a $75,000 loan from Dallas’ NationsBank. But bank officials were on to him and alerted the police.

When the police apprehended him, Russell faked a heart attack. In the hospital, he managed to impersonate an FBI agent on the phone to tell the hospital to release him.

Each time, he and Morris were tracked down. Ninety-nine years of his 144-year sentence is for the escapes.

Today, Steven Jay Russell is currently serving his sentence in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day (to give you some perspective on that, the United Nations has deemed it torture to hold people in solitary for more than 15 days without meaningful human contact).

With a release date of 2140, many people have called his sentence excessive and have asked Texas to release him (he became eligible for parole in 2020, but that doesn’t mean you automatically get granted a hearing). People who support his release (or a shorter sentence or release from solitary point out that there are cold-blooded murderers who received much shorter sentences. None of Russell’s crimes or escapes involved the use of violence or force of any kind.

There’s a 2009 film about his life called I Love You Phillip Morris, starring Jim Carrey as Steven Jay Russell. – WTF Fun Facts

Source: “I love you Phillip Morris: a conman’s story” — The Guardian

WTF Fun Fact 12711 – A Ram Charged With Murder

A sheep – a ram, to be exact – killed a woman in South Sudan by headbutting her in the chest. There aren’t many more specific details, but we’d rather not have them anyway.

People have been killed this way before. In fact, a 73-year-old U.S. woman was killed in Bolton, MA after being rammed while volunteering at a livestock farm in 2021. She was caring for the sheep alone in a pen when the animal repeatedly rammed her.

But the incident in South Sudan also made headlines because we’re not used to seeing other systems of punishment. In this case, the ram itself has been sentenced to three years in jail. Since it sounds like the animal was in human captivity, it’s unclear what that means.

According to LADbible, which published the story and cited multiple local sources:

The ram was taken into police custody in South Sudan earlier this month after it attacked Adhieu Chaping, 45. She later died as a result of her injuries.” And, according to police, “The ram attacked by hitting her ribs and the old woman died immediately. So this is what happened in Rumbek East in a place called Akuel Yol.

LADbible quoted Major Elijah Mabor telling a local radio station:

Our role as police is to provide safety and separate fights. The ram was apprehended and currently under custody at a Police Station of Maleng Agok Payam...The owner is innocent and the ram is the one who perpetrated the crime so it deserves to be arrested then later on the case shall be forwarded to customary court where the case can be handled amicably.”

We’re not sure what it’s like to arrest an angry ram, but it sounds like a dangerous job.

The next step is to take the animal to a military camp in Aduel County headquarters in Sudan’s Lakes State for its prison sentence.

As the official said, the owner of the ram, Duony Manyang Dhal, will not be charged with a crime, but a local court determined a just punishment would be to give five of his cows to the victim’s family (who are his neighbors) as compensation.

Apparently, when the ram is released from detention, it will also be given to the neighbors.

It appears that this may be a photo of the ram (however, the news source called the 45-year-old victim an “old woman,” so we’re not sure we trust anything else after that):

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Sheep Sentenced To Three Years In Jail After Being Convicted Of Killing A Woman” — LADbible

WTF Fun Fact 12598 – Volunteering for Prison

Zurich West Prison is designed to house no more than 241 people awaiting trial in Switzerland. Prison isn’t a fun place in any country, but that didn’t stop people from lining up to give the place a test run earlier this year. The prison is accepting volunteers over the age of 18 who live or work in Zurich.

As of February, over 832 people had applied to spend a couple of nights testing the facility in April 2022. What can we say, people are willing to try just about anything!

But they won’t be Instagramming the experience – there are no phones allowed. So, you won’t be able to see their prison meals, while they’ll be able to choose from a list of vegetarian, halal, or meat-based options.

Oh, and get this – they’ll also be able to opt-in to a strip search! (We’d pass, but that’s just us.) Of course, as volunteers, they’ll have the option of leaving at any time.

Switzerland’s prisons had come under scrutiny for their poor conditions, so Zurich West Prison wants to iron out any kinks beforehand. They aren’t prepping it to be a luxury stay, but they want to get a sense of how the prison operates with people in it before those people are those who have been charged with a crime.

According to an article in Bloomberg:

What else do we know about the experience volunteers should expect? For starters, they won’t pay anything, and they also shouldn’t expect to get paid for their time in jail. Daily life will include going through intake procedures, testing food, walking the yard, and sleeping in a cell. Cellphones and other electronic devices must be left at the door when checking in, and every volunteer will need a security clearance. To obtain this clearance, participants must go through a security checkpoint similar to airport TSA. And as for strip searches? According to officials, those are voluntary. (Whew!)

During the authentic incarceration experience, volunteers will receive safe words. That way, if things spiral out of control, they can let authorities know ASAP. The same goes for those who get cold feet at any point during the test run. In return, the experience will let officials of the prison system test the new facility’s capacity, operations, and services. It will also give correctional officers a chance to communicate and cooperate with authorities like prosecutors and law enforcement.”

The prison hopes the safe words won’t be necessary.  – WTF fun facts

Source: “Swiss Prison Flooded With Volunteers for Three Nights in Jail” — Bloomberg

WTF Fun Fact – Sex On The Moon

WTF Fun Fact - Sex On The Moon

In 2002, NASA intern Thad Roberts stole a safe full of moon rocks so he and his girlfriend could have “sex on the moon.” After their romantic night at a hotel, they tried to sell the $21 million worth of moon rocks. He was caught and sentenced to 8 years in prison. – WTF Fun Facts

Source: NASA news| Thad Roberts – the NASA intern who stole lunar rocks to ‘have sex on the Moon’ | Trending & Viral News (