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Dwight Worker

Dwight Worker American prison escapee

American prison escapee
Dwight Worker
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American prison escapee
Is Criminal Drug trafficker Professor
From United States of America
Type Academia Crime
Gender male
Residence Indiana
The details


Dwight Worker is an American farmer and former professor who is known for escaping from the Lecumberri prison in Mexico City, Mexico, in 1975.


In the 1960s, Worker, an Indiana-native, was an emergency medical technician and also a civil rights and anti-whaling activist.

Over the years, as he explained in a 2012 interview with NPR, he developed the cocaine habit, which was becoming too expensive for him to maintain. In the early 1970s, he planned to travel to South America smuggle back some cocaine.

He pursued his idea and traveled to Mexico to carry out his plan in 1973. Being an emergency medical technician skilled in putting casts on body, Worker was confident he would be able to hide cocaine under a velpeau cast - the cast used for a broken shoulder. He went as far as to have fake x-rays made and even had a fake news article posted in a local newspaper claiming that he had fallen off Mount Chimborazo climbing in Ecuador.

However, he was caught by the smarter-than-him customs officers at the border and was sentenced to five years for drug possession at Lecumberri Prison in the northeast of Mexico City, Mexico. The prison, in popular culture, was known infamously as “The Black Palace of Lecumberri,” from where escape was nearly impossible. The prison was functional from 1900 to 1976 and the only person to have previously escaped was Pancho Villa in 1912.

At the prison, Worker frequently got into fights with inmates - he was stabbed four times in the stomach, was regularly beaten, and had three hospitalizations.

It was an escape-or-die situation for him. 

While Worker was doing time at the prison, Barbara Wilde, also American, used to visit another prisoner at Lecumberri. They met, fell in love and continued exchanging letters while Worker was in the prison and Barbara, back in America.

They planned Worker’s escape: the plan required him to disguise as a woman and sneak out using forged passes that made him seem like one of the prisoners’ female visitors. Worker shaved his face, wore a wig, dressed in women’s clothes, and made the escape on December 17, 1975. Outside the prison, he took a taxi to a predesignated meeting spot with Barbara where he got out of his female garb. Worker took a bus and train to the border in Tucson, Arizona, and finally came back home to Indiana. The news about the escape was published in the newspapers in Mexico, three days after, on December 20th.

Back in Indiana, Worker married Barbara and worked various jobs - all the while keeping his story a secret to avoid the embarrassment. He received an MBA degree from Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, in 1984. Later, in 1999, he became a professor at Indiana university. He remained with the job until his retirement in 2009.

Sometime after he had retired, National Geographic contacted him about making a documentary on his escapade. He agreed, knowing that it cannot hurt his employment since he had already retired. His story was aired in May 2012, in the 7th episode of the 7th season of the National Geographic television series “Locked Up Abroad.”


In 2012, Worker co-authored with his wife, Barbara Wilde, Escape From Lecumberri (ISBN: 0-913374-76-8, ASIN: B00838YPIY.)

In December 2013, he published his second book: The Wild Years: These tales from a not-so-innocent 1950s, to the protests of the 1960s, to the dropout havens of the Southwest, capture, often through dilated eyes, the madness of the times. (ISBN: 1493702777, 9781493702770, ASIN: B00H91HWLS.)

His latest book, published on October 12, 2017, All Over The Place: Stories from a different time, from vanishing places, Worker talks about all the wild and adventurous experience he had traveling across various countries in different continents.


Besides being the subject of a National Geographic documentary, his story was adapted for a 1980 made-for-TV movie, Escape, with Timothy Bottoms portraying Worker and Kay Lenz portraying Barbara.

To cite the article
We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you notice a mistake, please contact us. Below the article, you will find links to the references used.
Article Title: Dwight Worker: American prison escapee - Biography and Life
Author(s): PeoplePill.com Editorial Staff
Website Title: PeoplePill
Publisher: PeoplePill
Article URL: https://peoplepill.com/people/dwight-worker/
Publish Date: 16 Dec 2016
Last Update Date: 14 Dec 2019
Date Accessed: 08 Jul 2020
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