She Was a Rule Follower—Until Helping a Murderer Escape

Toby Dorr smuggled inmate out of prison in a dog crate
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2020 1:10 PM CDT
She Was a Rule Follower—Until Helping a Murderer Escape
In this 2018 photo, Toby Dorr, formerly Toby Young, poses for a photo in Kansas City, Mo.   (Tammy Ljungblad/The Kansas City Star via AP)

As far as prison escapes go, it was ingenious in its simplicity. In 2006, 48-year-old Toby Dorr drove away from the gates of a prison in Lansing, Kansas, with dogs from her prison foster program loaded in the back of her van. Inside a box in one of the crates was a 27-year-old convicted murderer named John Manard. He and Dorr had struck up a close relationship on her visits to the prison, and they cooked up the escape plan over time. It went off without a hitch, writes Michael Mooney in the Atlantic. His story takes a deep dive into the escape, the couple's brief time on the run before capture, and how Dorr—a married mother of two who was a rule-abiding goody-two-shoes her entire life—turned into a felon herself. In a sense, it was an escape for her, too, from an unhappy marriage.

Dorr received a 27-month sentence, Manard got 10 years added to his life sentence, and Dorr is now happily remarried to someone else. "You can't change the past," she tells Mooney. "I like the person I am today, and I wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't gone through all that." Dorr is also starting to speak publicly about her experience. "She's given just a handful of speeches, but each time she's been met with a line of women coming up to her afterward, confessing their own secret desire to escape," writes Mooney. "Her story resonates, she says, because so many women wonder if they wouldn't do the same thing." Read the full story here. (It may remind people of what happened in upstate New York.)

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