Philly jailbreaks: 6 inmates have escaped in the last 6 years

Mug shots

Two murderers who escaped from a prison in upstate New York are still on the loose. Last week, a Philadelphia cab driver reported to police that he might have picked them up around Vine and then took them to 30th Street. That wasn’t the case, according to police. They were probably never here.

But the city has witnessed escaped prisoners. In the last several years, there have been three high-profile cases:

The Hurricane Sandy escape

Hurricane Sandy, October 29, 2012, knocked out power all over the city, including at the Community Education Center’s Hoffman Hall in North Philadelphia. Power went out for about 10 minutes. That was long enough for minimum-security inmates Rafael Zayas, Robert Collins, James Foulk and Erik Gomez to escape. All they had to do was walk out of door. Without the power, it was unlocked.

Unfortunately for them, being on the lam wasn’t nearly as easy as the actual escape. All of them except Gomez were caught within two weeks. Gomez lasted until the end of November. He was found at a Mexican restaurant on Passyunk Avenue.

The jewelry heist gone bad

The most serious recent escape happened in 2010, and it ended with the death of the inmate and a local jeweler.

Kevin Turner, 22, was at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, held for burglary and drug charges. He escaped on October 12, leaving during the middle of the night, sometime after the 3:45 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. headcounts. Turner worked in the kitchen, and he escaped using a food delivery vehicle.

He wasn’t heard from for about nine days. During that time, Turner had been stopping by William Glatz Jewelers in Lawncrest, basically casing the joint. He and accomplice Obina Onyiah attempted to rob the place on Oct. 21. A shootout ensued. Turner killed Glatz, and Glatz killed Turner. Onyiah got away but was later caught, charged and convicted.

The Thanksgiving escape

In November 2009, Oscar Alvarado became the first prisoner to escape from CFC prison. He had been held there since October 2008, awaiting murder charges. On Thanksgiving Day, he obtained a pass to the visitors’ room and then changed into regular street clothes. Alvarado then walked out of the prison like a normal person. Police caught him in mid-December at the Neshaminy Motor Inn.

Let the news come to you

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter brings you the latest Philly news that everyone will be talking about in your Slack channel.

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Did you hear that?

That was the sound of you being informed after reading another BP article. If you believe local information should be free and accessible to all Philadelphians, will you support Billy Penn today?

Informing Philadelphians, one story at a time

Your generous donation brought this article to life. Become a sustaining member today to continue Billy Penn’s work.

Bring a friend into the Billy Penn-verse

Thanks for reading another story! Know a fellow Philadelphian that would appreciate BP? Tell them about our newsletter.


Jewelers Row