Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Christopher Boyce & Andrew Daulton Lee

The Falcon Flies

Lee was nicknamed Spy by the other prisoners.  He went through the pain of drug withdrawal behind bars.  After several months of agony, he was free of his chemical dependency and fairly well adjusted to the monotony of prison life.

Christopher Boyce was also liked by some of his fellow inmates. They would comment on his intellectual interests and say he was not a criminal type and therefore did not belong in prison.

Book cover: The Falcon and the Snowman
Book cover:
The Falcon and the Snowman

However, the handsome young spy aroused animosity among other prisoners.  They disliked his arrogance and resented his having been the focus of so much media attention.  This was exacerbated when The Falcon and the Snowman by Robert Lindsey was published.  Moreover, some of the other incarcerated men hated him because he was a traitor. 

At one point, a longhaired, much-tattooed con approached Boyce in a hallway.  The man tossed a knife onto the floor.  Then he waved his own knife at the spy and challenged, Pick it up! Defying the prisoners code of conduct, which says  a man must never shrink from a fight, Boyce walked away.  He was not one for physical combat.

Soon after this 1979 encounter, Christopher Boyce escaped.  There was speculation that the Russians aided Boyce in his escape but that seems belied by the fact that no one spirited him off to the Soviet Union.

Others speculated that the CIA helped Boyce break out.  This line of reasoning holds that Boyce truly is a double agent, pretending to spy for the Soviets while giving them bogus information.  This improbable and conspiratorial hypothesis says that the government allowed him to go to prison to prop up the authenticity of its double agent.

Boyce himself has said that he escaped with the help of the incompetence of the United States Bureau of Prisons.  This does not seem like an overstatement since, in an act of sheer harebrained stupidity no fiction writer would dare invent, the prison showed the inmates a Clint Eastwood movie called Escape from Alcatraz!

In the film, a prisoner crafts a paper maché figure and then fools his guards by placing it in his bed to be counted as the inmate escapes.

For Boyce, the movie was a source for both entertainment and instruction.  After seeing it, he visited the arts and crafts section of the prison and signed up for paper maché class.  He learned how to make a similar dummy.

As the paper maché creation slept on Boyces cot, the prisoner himself hid in a drain by a fence.  To avoid detection, Boyce had to curl his almost six foot frame into a tight ball. 

Boyce's hiding place
Boyce's hiding place

Eventually Boyce pushed the grate out of his way.  He felt a sense of exhilaration as the fresh evening air touched his face.  His heart was pounding with fear but also with excitement. He carried a broomstick and a makeshift ladder as he started running.  He slipped, fell, then determinedly got up.  He propped the precious, three-foot ladder against the fence and climbed.  He cut through wire with a pair of rose-pruning shears.  Then he slipped again and fell to the ground.  He was certain that his escape had failed and that a guard would spot him.

 The guard in the tower, Boyce noted in a later interview, wasnt on the ball.

Christopher Boyce
Christopher Boyce

Boyce climbed back on the ladder and resumed his careful wire pruning.  At the top of the cut fence, he beheld the ground of the Kill Zone just outside.  It was a place where guards could shoot to kill.  The ground of the Kill Zone was covered with razor wire.  Now the convict used the broomstick to clear an area about the size of his body.

On the evening of January 21, 1980, convicted spy Christopher Boyce jumped over the prison fence and escaped. He ran and, with his adrenaline flowing, kept running all night.

Boyce lived free for 19 months.

At first, he lived in the woods, eating insects, acorns, and berries.  Anticipating an escape, Boyce had boned up in the prison library about what was safe to eat in the wild and what to avoid. 

Book cover: The Flight of the Falcon
Book cover: The Flight of the Falcon

Boyce had an old friend who lived in Goleta, a town 60 miles from Lompoc.  He decided to find his buddy and ask for help.  The Flight of the Falcon by Robert Lindsey says that the escapee picked up a new set of clothes from a clothesline along the way and a sleeping bag and a tent from an untended campsite.  Unfortunately for Boyce, the jeans he stole were designed for a woman and looked awkward.

He found his friends house but the man had moved. The fugitive continued his homeless life, varying his insect and berries diet with shoplifted items and food he clawed out of garbage cans.

Gloria Ann White
Gloria Ann White

Boyce found a prison friend from prison now free.  That friend advised Boyce to look up an Idaho woman named Gloria Ann White. She would likely shelter someone running from the law, Boyce was told.

Boyce, using the alias Jim Namcheck, traveled to Boundary County, Idaho, and found Whites home although not the woman herself. She was gone for a few weeks to another home in her native Oregon.  But Boyce took his friends word that White would not mind a fugitive staying at her place until she got back.

The house was quite special.  It was a log cabin that Gloria White had built with her own hands.  It took three years.

Boyce spent a little more than a week in the cabin.  Always a lover of the outdoors, Boyce explored the surrounding countryside.  Taking along a tent and a sleeping bag, he hiked through northern Idaho and eventually into Canada.  After seeing some of the wilds there, he returned to the U.S.  Despite his avowed hatred of his country, he was drawn to something in it. 

Boyce learned of a job opening at a tree nursery.  Since Boyce adored working with nature, it seemed like a compatible position. Jim Namcheck was hired. He became restless after only one month. Boyce wanted something more adventurous, more exciting, even more dangerous, than this steady, honest, day-to-day job.

Boyce had also gotten to know Gloria White and had taken a strong liking to her.  He quit the tree nursery and moved into Whites log cabin.

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