Dwight Worker (Born September 17, 1946) is an American professor, activist, adventurer, and still a fugitive. He escaped from the Mexican penitentiary Palacio de Lecumberri in 1975. Afterward, he wrote the book Escape From Lecumberri. The movie Escape was adapted from this book.
Throughout his life he participated in civil rights, anti-war, and environmental movements. In 1991, Dwight volunteered to serve in the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society where he worked against illegal drift netting and whaling.
Worker is a former professor at Indiana University, where he created the Information Security program for the Kelley School of Business before retiring to farm, write, and travel.
Worker was born in East Chicago, Indiana. He grew up in a blue-collar family. As a kid, he worked on a golf course regularly caddying for Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, and for members of the original Harlem globetrotters Basketball team.
From 1964 through January, 1968, Worker attended Indiana University, in Bloomington, IN where he earned a BA in Psychology and Anthropology. Worker returned to Indiana University to complete his MBA in Management of Information Systems in 1985.
Civil Rights and Anti-War Movements
After Dwight’s brother Wayne was paralyzed while in the Navy during the Vietnam War in 1964, Worker became active in organizing anti-war resistance. On July 10th, 1966 Worker saw Martin Luther King speak in Chicago. Worker was active in the civil rights movement in the sixties doing voter registration, community organizing, and tutoring.
Worker received his draft card in 1964 right after his eighteenth birthday. He immediately applied for conscientious objector status, but was rejected because he answered ‘No’ to the question of whether he believed in God or not.
Worker returned his draft card to the Selective Service in 1966 with a letter stating that he was ending his membership in the organization. He then sent a letter to the head of the Selective Service, General Hersey, where he classified Hershey as ‘WC-3′ (War Criminal to the third degree) and inducted Hershey into the ‘peace revolution’. Worker ordered Hershey to report to his apartment immediately to help shut down induction centers.
On January 11th, 1968 two armed service members took Worker and brought him to the Indianapolis induction center. He refused to sign the induction forms. Worker passed out anti-war leaflets there before fleeing the induction center and taking off toward Canada. He never made it there.
1970 – 1973
On January 1st, 1970, Worker left for the Caribbean and South America. He trekked the Andes from Venezuela to Bolivia, climbing mountains, living in the Machu Pichu ruins, canoing down the Urubamba River, and visiting the wild Yungas wilderness. He first chewed coca leaves in the Andes and but it was just before returning to the U.S. that he first tried cocaine. When he returned to the US, he started using cocaine regularly.
He lived in Tucson in the fall/winter/springs of 1971 and 1972, taking classes at the University of Arizona. He began dealing and smuggling marijuana to support himself and his cocaine habit. As a result he eventually he dropped out of graduate school, unable to focus on classes.
Lecumberri Prison and Escape
On December 7th, 1973, customs officials at the Benito Juarez Airport arrested Worker for trying to smuggle 780 grams of cocaine. At the airport Worker signed a confession after torture by airport guards.
They sent Worker to ‘El Palacio Negro’ the Black Palace of Lecumberri. It was a medieval-looking prison, built to hold 800 prisoners, but currently holding 4000. There were a rough average of about 200 murders committed there each year.
In Worker’s 2 years in Lecumberri Prison, he was hospitalized 3 times from beatings, stabbed 4 times, led a hunger strike for 17 days, and spent 41 days in solitary confinement.
In the summer of 1975, Barbara Chilcoate visited Dwight Worker while he was in prison. She then moved to Mexico to be with him. On December 17th, 1975, Dwight Worker and Barbara Chilcoate were married in prison. Two hours later, Dwight Worker became the second and last man to ever escape from Lecumberri Prison, second only to Pancho Villa.
1975 to Present
Dwight and Barbara lived in the U.S., where Barbara got a degree in microbiology while Dwight got an MBA in Management of Information Systems. They have two children.
Dwight worked first as a computer programmer and later as a contract software design engineer. Between contracts, he traveled as much as possible; to East Africa, India, Bangladesh, Central and South America, and other countries.
In 1991, Dwight volunteered to serve in the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. He spent 9 months with them over the course of 3 years. Some of it was reconnaissance. Some of it was on boats out at sea searching for, harassing, and ramming pirate drift-netters and pirate whaling ships.
Worker taught at the Indiana University Kelly School of Business for ten years. During that time, he developed the Information Security Program at the School of Business. His classes were filled with laboratories and hands-on demonstrations that included system compromise, intrusion detection, and network protection. Dwight guided hundreds of students into the information security industry, where many today are advancing to high levels of management. He brought Linux and open source software development to the school.
Worker received numerous rewards from Indiana University for teaching, and high ratings from the students.
In the last fifteen years, Worker has taken numerous long-distance bicycle trips. These journeys have included Cuba, England and Ireland, the Czech Repub., Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, the Dominican Republic, Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico, Costa Rica, the Yucatan and Chiapas in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and much of the U.S.A.
He grows his own food, makes his bio-diesel for his equipment, and heats his home with firewood that he cuts himself from fallen trees.