Authorities are still desperate to catch two convicts who escaped from an upstate New York prison. But also somewhere out there are an admitted killer who crawled through a Texas prison's ventilation ducts, a murderer who apparently escaped from an Indiana institution in a garbage truck, and a Florida convict who got other inmates to put him in a crate at the prison furniture shop and had himself delivered to freedom by truck. They're among more than 130 state prison escapees nationwide who are listed as on the loose, the AP found in a coast-to-coast survey. Most have been gone for decades, meaning the chances of finding them have dwindled dramatically—that is, if they're even alive. The AP asked all states for a current total of escapees from secure, locked state prisons where they were held full time.
Some states—including California, the most populous—couldn't immediately provide an answer, and others responded only for recent decades, so the total is almost certainly higher than the 134 the AP counted. But some on that list have probably died: One 1955 absconder from Illinois would now be 112. After six months, a fugitive's trail generally goes pretty cold, says the head of the National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents. Some states regularly revisit escape cases, keep an eye on vanished prisoners' associates, and check fingerprint databases and death certificates for new leads. But pursuing decades-old cases is complicated by paperwork and the passage of time, and investigators mainly hope for a surprise tip or that the convict will slip up, perhaps by contacting a relative or getting arrested for another crime.