Convict with escape plan: Guards let him repair prison locks

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AUBURN, N.Y. (AP) — A prison inmate serving a life sentence for his parents' slayings said guards at a maximum-security New York state prison allowed him to fix locks inside the facility before an elaborate escape plan he developed was uncovered two years ago.

In an interview with The Post-Standard ( ), Gordon "Woody" Mower told the Syracuse newspaper that guards at the Auburn Correctional Facility had him repair locks throughout the nearly 200-year-old prison regularly. The tasks ended in April 2015 after he was caught plotting to escape under a truckload of sawdust from the prison's woodshop, Mower said.

His details of fixing locks were included in a deposition from a disciplinary hearing at the prison in 2015. During the hearing, Mower talked about fixing old locks all through the prison, New York's oldest. He said guards started him on the repair jobs in 2014 after the prison's locksmith retired.

A civilian employee who was in charge of the metal shop testified at the same hearing that Mower "did quite a lot for the lockshop."

Prison officials say they're investigating Mower's claims.

Mower, 40, was sentenced to life without parole in the shooting deaths of his parents inside the family's rural upstate home in March 1996.

In June, The Post-Standard reported that Mower told the newspaper he hatched a plan to escape from Auburn by being buried alive in a bottomless 3-foot by 4-foot wooden box under a big mound of sawdust produced by the prison's woodworking shop. He said he was able to practice the escape 50 times before guards discovered his plan in April 2015.

Mower has since been transferred to the maximum-security prison in Elmira, where he gave the Syracuse newspaper details of his lock repairs while at Auburn.

"We're not supposed to have anything to do with locks," Mower said. "It's supposed to be top secret to inmates how locks work."


Information from: The Post-Standard,

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