FOLSOM (CBS13) — A cold-blooded killer who was sentenced to 26-years-to-life behind bars at Folsom State Prison only served five months before his escape.
The water moves now as it did back then along the stretch of the American River at the foot of Folsom State Prison, where granite-chiseled walls stand tall and towers hover over dreams that would slowly die.
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But the water that flowed from there nearly three decades ago would provide the source for new life for a convicted killer.
For Folsom inmate Glen Stewart Godwin, the sound of water would be the sound of freedom.
Those who say they knew Godwin say he was a young, rugged charmer and former tool salesman who had as many girlfriends as bad habits.
But the 28-year-old had just one plan that we would all find out about in the June of 1987.
He dropped down into a storm drain, went under the prison and escaped. It’s a story that’s strikingly similar to the scene from “The Shawshank Redemption” when Andy Dufresne crawls to freedom.
Joel Valencia and Jim Brown were on duty that day, and they were two of the first state prison employees who tried to track Godwin down.
He was long gone, thanks to some help from some friends.
“We found in the tunnel where Godwin went out, there was white spray painted smiley faces with arrows indicating the direction to go out towards the river,” Valenica said.
No, he didn’t do it alone, as officials said that morning. The bars leading to the storm drain inside the prison had been cut as well.
Godwin gained access because someone inside had changed his custody-level status, allowing him to move more freely on prison grounds.
“At the time we used inmate clerks quite a bit more than we do now,” Valenica said. “Now, that doesn’t happen.”
Godwin’s outside help came in part from a former cellmate who had been released on parole.
“You got water, you got mud, you got rats,” Valenica said. “So I’m sure he left a flashlight in there to go down.”
Godwin went down alright, and out through a 1,000-foot long stretch of the prison storm drain.
“This is probably something they cooked up when they were inside together with the agreement that hey once you get out, come and get me out,” Valenica said.
He did, leaving an inflatable raft at the river’s edge, which Godwin would use to float to freedom.
He went along the bank, crossed the river, and jogged on a trail until he met his wife, Shelly there.
Godwin, fluent in Spanish, would make his way down to Mexico. Five months later, he was arrested on drug charges and sent to a high-security Mexican prison. He didn’t stay there long.
After killing a fellow inmate at the Puente Grande federal prison in Guadalajara in September of 1991, Godwin escaped again.
He’s been “in the wind,” as they call it, ever since. The FBI added him to its 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list in 1996.
Today, Godwin would now be 56 years old.
“We also have an aged-progressed image as well—there is a sketch of him—because of course people change over time,” said FBI spokeswoman Gina Swankie. “There are certain aspects of him that would remain the same, especially based on his personality and characteristics.”
And by that, the feds mean Godwin was known to be overly concerned with his looks and may have even had plastic surgery. He was known to love his champagne, the nightlife and the ladies.
Some of his common occupations include salesman, mechanic and construction worker.
It’s widely believed Godwin has stayed south of the border.
“There is a great possibility that he might be in Belize or some other Spanish-speaking country to where he could blend with the locals a little bit better,” she said.
The tunnel was sealed after Godwin’s escape. His former cell mate was re-arrested and killed himself behind bars.
His then-wife Shelly was arrested for her role. We’re told she’s attached to the same belief that so many others have—Glen Stewart Godwin is out there, somewhere.[/cbs-timed]