Serial Prison Escapee Meets His Demise

July 10, 1930, Otto Wood made his final escape from Central Prison.

On July 10, 1930, Otto Wood made his final escape from Central Prison. To this day, no one knows how he did it. On the lam for six months, he was finally recognized by Salisbury police as he walked through town on December 31. In a bold move, Wood drew a gun on the officers and got into their car, demanding that they drive out of town. When the officers drew their guns, a shootout ensued and Otto Wood was killed on the street.

During his lifetime, Wood was a legend for both his felonious ways and his numerous escapes from jail—the final one was his 11th. During one of his incarcerations, he wrote a short autobiography, entitled Life History of Otto Wood, Inmate, State Prison. From 1923, when he began his sentence for murder, he escaped about once per year until, in 1926, he was placed in solitary confinement.

Wood’s autobiography convinced many of his sympathizers that he was a reformed man. Removed from solitary, he escaped again. Wood was well known as a wily criminal throughout the state and nation, and his story was followed gleefully in the press. In the end, his notoriety was his undoing.

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