Harry Houdini was known as the world’s greatest escape artist. But he was never kept confined as a prisoner of the state, where the stakes are higher. Some folks developed a talent for escaping from real incarceration, because by golly, they kept getting arrested and jailed! There’s the story of Paddy Mitchell, a bank robber who, along with his gang who wore masks of presidents, robbed over 100 banks. Their exploits inspired the movie Point Break. Paddy almost killed himself during his second prison break.
Now, you probably know from decades' worth of depictions of prison life in the media that cigarettes are as good as gold on the inside, but you probably don't know about something else they're good for -- namely, faking a heart attack, which you can do by simply soaking a cigarette butt in water overnight and then drinking the resulting liquid nicotine goodness (don't try that at home, kids). Mitchell, obviously a big fan of the "more is more" approach, soaked an entire pack of cigs in water, ran three miles around the prison exercise yard, and then drank that refreshing cancer sludge.
His ticker damn nigh exploded. His heart attack symptoms were so real -- because, basically, they were -- that guards rushed him to the local hospital ... where his two partners were posing as emergency room workers. Mitchell made a quick getaway to the Philippines, only returning to the U.S. to pull an occasional bank heist until he was finally caught for good ... 15 years later.
Paddy Mitchell is only one of the five prison escape artists profiled in a list at Cracked.