Prisoner escaped by slipping out back door of Motel 6 during conjugal visit


It was a few minutes after midnight on May 17, 1974, and the Oregon State Penitentiary employee sitting in his car outside the Salem Motel 6 was starting to get nervous.

He was there to supervise a conjugal visit between a convicted cop killer named Carl Cletus Bowles and his fiance, Joan Coberly, and the convict was supposed to have returned to the parking lot by midnight.

He walked up to room 30, knocked on the door. No response. He used the lobby telephone to call the room. No answer.

Finally the manager let him inside, and he found the room empty — really empty. The bed hadn’t even been sat on; the toilet still had a strip of paper over it. Bowles and his “fiance” were gone — long gone. They had, it turned out, simply walked out the back door of the motel.

It was a jailbreak. And it was quite possibly the most embarrassing jailbreak in U.S. history.


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