But, in 1987, a Folsom Prison inmate named Glen Stewart Godwin slipped through an open manhole and crawled 750 feet down a storm drain to the American River, where he used a raft left by an accomplice to paddle his way to freedom. Those who've seen the movie or read the novel would understand the similarities.
Like his fictional counterpart, Godwin headed to Mexico after regaining his freedom.
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In 1985, while serving his sentence at Soledad Prison, Godwin married Shelley Rose. He was then transferred to Folsom Prison, a maximum-security facility, where he escaped through a 300-yard storm drain and floated across the American River on a raft to freedom in June 1987.
Apparently gaining assistance from someone who cut the iron bars on the storm drain from the outside, Godwin was the third person to escape from Folsom in 25 years. Lorenz Karlic, who had once shared a cell with Godwin, was arrested in Hesperia, California, for aiding Godwin in his escape.
After two years without any leads on either Glen or Shelley, who was last seen renting a car at the San Jose Airport, authorities were notified of a man in a Mexican prison under the name of Stewart Carrera, whose fingerprints matched those of Godwin’s. Reportedly, Mexican authorities had arrested Glen on drugs and weapons charges six months after his escape.
While California officials were working to have Godwin extradited back to the United States, he murdered a fellow inmate in Puerto Vallarta Prison—an attempt to avoid returning to the high security prisons in California. Shortly thereafter, he escaped from the Mexican jail.
In December 1996, Godwin appeared on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. Shelley Godwin, who, unbeknownst to California law enforcement officials, had divorced her husband and remarried in Texas, was apprehended in Dallas when a story on the Godwin case appeared on television’s America’s Most Wanted, but Glen Godwin remains at large.