April 14, 2013

Maine's longest-serving prisoner running no more

For 79-year-old Albert Paul – a convicted thief and murderer with a colorful history of breaking free – those days are now years behind him.

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 4)

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Albert Paul, 79, has spent most of his life in prison for a string of crimes and is currently serving a life sentence for a 1971 murder. The Department of Corrections has estimated that it has spent nearly $1.5 million since the early 1950s to keep the Maine man locked up.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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1972 booking photos from the Maine State Prison in Thomaston

Additional Photos Below

Paul knew he couldn’t fit in one of the boxes, but he could fit into three of them if they were connected.

When the guard came around one morning in 1982 and marked Paul as present, he actually was in the boxes. By the next check, the truck was gone and so was Paul.

He was out of prison for two full weeks. He went to Minnesota and robbed a bank.

“They don’t give you escape money at the prison,” he said with a wink.

He made his way back East but never reached Maine. Police picked him up after he broke into a home in Rotterdam, N.Y. He didn’t bother putting up a fight.

After the escape, the Pennsylvania penitentiary didn’t want Paul anymore, so the Maine State Prison took him back.

Authorities never even bothered to file additional charges – he was already serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

LIVING IN A BATHROOM-SIZED CELL

Since the late 1980s, Paul has bounced among prisons in several other states, including Florida and Illinois. He joked that he’s seen more of the country as a prisoner than he might have as a free man.

He came back to Maine in 2008 for good and has been quiet since.

He had 11 siblings once, but they’re all dead now. Their lives are reminders of what his could have been.

One brother, Harvey Paul of Biddeford, died in September. Harvey and his wife were married as long as Albert has been a prisoner. Harvey Paul had 10 children, 22 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren who all called him “Pops.” Another brother, Norman Paul of Sanford, was a police officer and deputy chief who became a state lawmaker. He died in June 2010.

These days, Paul spends 90 percent of his time inside a bathroom-sized cell.

A single-frame bunk crowds one wall. Two bookshelves hang above a sink and toilet attached to the second. The third has a narrow window that doesn’t open and has no view. The fourth wall is bars.

He said he stays away from junk food at the canteen.

He has high blood pressure and occasional chest pain for which he takes medication but otherwise is healthy.

“I’d like to live to be 100,” he said. “If I do, I’ll invite you back.”

There is little to remind Paul of the world outside or of his past, and he seems at peace with that.

One word is crudely tattooed across the knuckles of his left hand: “Antipas.”

It’s the last name of an inmate whom Paul served time with back in the 1950s, someone he called a true friend.

But “Antipas” was also a character in the Bible’s Book of Revelation, the story of the Apocalypse that ends the New Testament.

He is described as a contemporary of John the Apostle, a faithful witness of Jesus Christ and a martyr who lived in Pergamos, an area where many believe the devil presided.

Before he was sentenced to death for refusing to denounce Jesus, Antipas was asked, “Don’t you know that the whole world is against you?”

Antipas replied, “Then I am against the whole world.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

erussell@pressherald.com

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

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Additional Photos

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Albert Paul, photographed Jan. 18 at the Maine State Prison in Warren, will turn 80 in June. He’s been in and out of prison – mostly in – since he was 18 and likely will die there, having been sentenced to life for killing a South Portland woman in 1971.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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This newspaper clipping from Sept. 8, 1962, details the reapprehension of Maine State Prison inmate Albert Paul, who managed to escape several times – sometimes quite dramatically – during his lifetime of incarceration.

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Clippings from newspaper archives chronicle Paul’s journey to life in prison.



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