Prisoner Escapes Using Dental Floss

Inmate Robert Shepard didn’t need a file baked into a pie to get out of jail. Instead, he simply used dental floss. Shepard, who was confined to the South Center Regional Jail in South Charleston, West Va., on a robbery charge, braided the floss into a rope as thick as a telephone cord, all while cameras were recording and guards were patrolling. Once he had the rope completed, the 34-year-old used it to scale an 18-foot wall and escape into the night. It is speculated that he hurled the makeshift rope upward to loop through the fence and then managed to use it to climb the cinder block wall. He had a 3-inch piece of hacksaw blade, which helped him to cut through the fence. Just how much floss does it take to make a rope heavy enough to hoist a 5’9”, 155-pound man over a wall? It seems that Shepard bought two 100-yard packages of floss from the prison commissary a few days before the escape. At the time of the escape, Shepard was being disciplined with reduced privileges for using a handmade tool to scrape mortar in his cell. He wasn’t allowed in the exercise yard until late at night, after other inmates were locked in their cells. Apparently, that worked pretty well for Shepard. Unfortunately, he was captured 41 days later. In the meantime, inmates had to clean their teeth with something else, as sales of dental floss were suspended from the commissary. The anti-floss policy didn’t last long, however, as inmates sued the Department of Corrections for depriving them of the "use of dental floss, resulting in cavities that lead to tooth loss.”