The Daring Escape of the
Patrick Henry Murphy Jr., was born in Dallas, Texas, on October 31, 1961, making him 39 years old at the time of his escape from the John Connally Unit. The former construction worker had done a stint in the U.S. Army, but was dishonorably discharged because he kept going AWOL. Although he had occasionally gotten into trouble while growing up in the Dallas area, it was difficult to picture, at least in 1978, the skinny high school boy with the Beatles haircut and the peach-fuzz mustache as a rapist. To those who knew him he just seemed like a normal, occasionally mischievous sophomore. But by 1984 that is exactly what the brown-haired, blue-eyed young white man had become: a rapist.
Slightly built at 5'7" tall and weighing in at less than 160 pounds, Murphy did not appear to be the rapist type, if there is, in fact, such a type who wantonly attacks a woman. But that's what he did on a night in 1984 after selecting his victim, a 23-year-old divorced woman that he knew from high school and who was living with her mother.
It began as a simple burglary, but turned really ugly when the young woman was awakened by a noise. When she got up to investigate, she saw a man in the living room of her mother's home. His face was covered. When Murphy realized that he had been seen, he grabbed the woman and held a knife to her throat.
"Keep your eyes shut and be quiet, or something might happen," Murphy said.
Fearing for her life, the young woman submitted to Murphy's demands and allowed him to cover her head with a pillowcase. He then cut off her nightgown with the knife and raped her. Afterward, when she was certain that her assailant had left the premises, the young woman woke up her mother and tearfully told her that she had been raped.
They called the police and reported the attack, and the woman assured the police that she would recognize her assailant's voice if she heard it again. She thought she knew the man's voice, and was able to eventually put the cops onto Murphy. After his arrest, she positively identified his voice from a "voice lineup."
At his trial, a jury was carefully questioned about whether they could make a fair judgment based on voice identification. When all parties were satisfied and a jury was seated, tearful testimony from the victim was presented as she explained the burglary and subsequent rape. Afterwards, jurors only deliberated for a few hours before convicting Murphy of aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon and burglary. The judge sentenced him to 50 years in prison.
The fact that Murphy had used a pillowcase to cover his victim's head was immediately familiar to the cops, and prompted the investigators probing the prison break to speculate that the pillowcases used in the escape to cover those victims' faces may have been Murphy's touch.