Porter County Sheriff's Department

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Escape Artist at Old Porter County Jail

Tony V. Martin | The Times Anthony Martin, left, is shackled by Porter County Sheriff David Lain. Escape artist Anthony Martin from Sheboygan, Wis., broke out of the old county jail in the Porter County Museum on Saturday.

Tony V. Martin | The Times Anthony Martin, 43, is locked in a jail cell before his attempt to get out. Martin, of Wisconsin, is an escape artist who has been featured on TV and in a cartoon of Ripley's "Believe It or Not."

Old Porter County Jail no match for escape artist

By Phil Wieland | Sunday, June 14, 2009


VALPARAISO | The old jail cells in the Porter County Historical Society Museum had an unusual prisoner Saturday, but he didn't stay inside for long.

It took escape artist Anthony Martin just eight minutes to free himself of his shackles, the jail cell door and two more locked iron gates before appearing triumphantly in the public area of the museum. About 20 people were on hand to witness his appearance, including Porter County Sheriff David Lain
"I am befuddled," Lain confessed.

The stunt began with a phone call from Martin to Museum Director Kevin Pazour. The 43-year-old Martin is a Wisconsin native and has been featured on television. The area's connection to Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger is what attracted him to try his talents on the historic Porter County slammer.

"He called out of the blue saying he was an escape artist who goes around the country escaping from old jails," Pazour said. "We decided to turn it into an event with the Valparaiso Holiday Inn Express, which provided rooms for Martin during his two-day stay. He wanted a half-hour to escape, but I told him 13 minutes because it is June 13, and 13 is an unlucky number. I thought 15 minutes would be too much."

According to a Ripley's "Believe It Or Not" cartoon, Martin escaped from the Wautoma, Wis., jail in four minutes and 45 seconds.  "I always emphasize it's an attempt," Martin told the crowd before being shackled and locked in the cell, which hadn't been used since 1973. "Things can happen, and I can't practice for this." Lain searched Martin before wrapping him in chains, padlocks, three sets of handcuffs, and a ball and chain. The jail cell door was in good working order, and Pazour said he had the only keys to the cell door and the other two security doors Martin had to negotiate to reach the visitors area in the old sheriff's house portion of the jail building.  While visitors waited and watched videos of some of Martin's past televised escapes, Pazour kept a countdown going on the 13-minute time limit. Seconds after Pazour announced eight minutes had elapsed, Martin appeared through the unlocked door to the museum.  "I've been doing this for 30 years, and the longer I do it the more I have to lose if I fail," he said. "I try to take my time and not panic."  Martin did make one special request of Lain. He asked to see the Thompson submachine gun the Sheriff's Department now has that was once in Dillinger's possession.

Tony V. Martin | The Times Anthony Martin emerges in 8 minutes, 13 seconds having opened

over three sets of handcuffs, various padlocks, and three locked jail doors.

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