In March 1984, six men escaped from Virginia’s most secure prison. It remains the only mass escape from death row in US history.
This recording was made on death row by Lem D. Tuggle with a pocket cassette recorder hidden in his cell. As a guard approached his cell, Lem had to stop recording, thus accounting for the few breaks in the sound.
The tape was removed from the cassette shell and smuggled out by letter. This is a copy of the original recording in its entirety.
Of the six men who escaped, five have been executed. Only Lem survives…
The Daily Telegraph 14th December 1996:
“The last surviving member of a jail gang which featured in America’s biggest breakout from death row has been executed in Jarrett, Virginia. Asked if he had any last words, Len (sic) Tuggle, 44, replied, ‘Merry Christmas.’ Tuggle and five others escaped in 1984 in stolen guard uniforms. All were recaptured and the others have since been executed.” [David Sapstead, New York]