Old St. Andrews



Escape of Robert Pye, 1897



St. Andrews Beacon, May 13, 1897
Escaped from Jail
Robert Pye Opens Bolts and Bars and Secures His Freedom-But is Captured within Sight of his Prison Walls.—An Ingenious Prisoner
One of the most ingenious and successful attempts at jail-breaking ever made by a prisoner was carried out b Robert Pye, a prisoner in St. Andrews jail on Saturday afternoon last. By means of some keys and other instruments of his own making, Pye opened the bolts and bars of three massive doors which restrained him, and then having obtained an entrance to the office of the jail, he leaped out of the open window and in a trice was breathing the free air of heaven. Unfortunately for his plans, though the jailer and his wife were both absent at the time, the prisoner's departure was noticed by a little girl, the adopted daughter of the jailer. She gave the alarm, which resulted five minutes later in the recapture and return of this prisoner. To aid him in his escape, Pye had blackened his features. This deception proved so successful that although the jailer noticed the man on the street he did not recognize him as the prisoner until the little girl told him. To Jailer Kendrick Pye said that he had been planning his escape all winter. He expressed regret that all his ingenuity and labor have been thrown away. In order to gain an entrance into the hallway of the jail, the prisoner had to pen three doors. The first one was of latticed iron, which was fastened on the outside by a padlock four pounds in weight. The key to open the lock was of peculiar construction, but the prisoner, after several attempt, succeeded in making a hardwood key the exact counterpart of the original. After opening this door, he encountered a wooden door, with a steel face, which is secured with a huge bolt outside a few inches from the floor. The only opening in this door is in the middle. It is about two inches square. Through this small aperture, he dropped out a wire which pulled the link f the bolt up in shooting the bolt. Door No. 3 was of iron bars fastened with a lock. This door he unfastened with a key which he had constructed out of the blade of a knife. To obtain an impression of this lock while the other doors were fastened he had to reach out through the openings in the two doors a distance of about three feet using the handle of a white-wash brush. Sheriff Stuart had no idea that man's ingenuity cold secure an opening through three massive doors, but this opinion on that subject has considerably altered since Saturday.