Why Victor Figueroa's Prison Escape Remains A Mystery

The phenomenon of prison escape seems to be almost mythical at this point. Instances of successful abscondment are so sparse and improbable, one would think they're strictly reserved for movies like "The Shawshank Redemption" or "Escape from Alcatraz" (the latter of which is actually a true story). However, improbable doesn't mean impossible. Prison break does happen from time to time, and it isn't unheard of that the escapees are never found. 

In 1997, Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility inmate Victor Figueroa disappeared from the New York security compound without a trace. To this day, authorities have no official ruling as to what happened or where he went. It was during a routine phone call with his sister, Yvette Cruz, a few days before his alleged flight that he voiced unrest with his conditions, complaining of abuse from a particular guard and an overall feeling of angst. Then, on February 6, the 21-year-old Figueroa was declared missing and a massive manhunt was organized in pursuit of him (via Times Union). 

Abandoned mine shaft?

"There is a guard who keeps messing with me. Look, I have to let you go," Figueroa shared with his sister before disappearing entirely a few days later. She replied, "Papi, you know I love you. This is going to end in a few months. Please call me tomorrow."

Following the realization of the inmate's absence, searchers examined the surrounding area and found footprints leading to a nearby abandoned mineshaft. They surmised that Figueroa had fled to the mine to avoid detection and fallen to his death. Further pursuit was halted; conditions in the mine were too dangerous for a thorough search to be performed (per Times Union). 

After officials failed to provide sufficient answers, Figueroa's family became restless in their drive to find out what happened to their loved one. However, authorities threatened to arrest the fugitive's sister if she took to the mines herself or tried to hire a private search party. "I was going crazy. He was my other half," she shared years later. She said she "would try calling the jail and they would hang up on me. No one would tell me anything." The family suspected foul play on the part of the law and prison officials, but nothing was ever confirmed (per Times Union).

Some 25 years later, Victor Figueroa's disappearance remains a puzzling mystery. He is the only (so far) New York prisoner to escape and (also so far) not be found (via Reader's Digest).