Everyone loves a good fugitive story -- it's one of the mainstays of Hollywood action movies, right up there alongside heaving bosoms and pun-based deaths. But we all know that real-life fugitives are nothing like the crazy, resourceful badasses we see on screen, right? Right. Mmmmostly. Every so often, reality produces a criminal escape so awesomely ballsy that Bill Die-Hard and Mike Expendables would break down in tears just reading about it.
5 The Mad Trapper of Rat River
In 1931, a mysterious man calling himself Albert Johnson built himself a cabin up in northern Canada, well inside the Arctic Circle, to better pursue his lifelong dream of dying in a cabin in the Arctic Circle. When Mounties arrived to issue a friendly warning about trapping without a license, Johnson pulled the old "If I can't see you, you can't see me" stratagem. Johnson would not reply to the Mounties' questions; he wouldn't so much as glance in their direction. When the ruse failed (as it usually does, for all but toddlers and Predators), the authorities became suspicious and returned with a warrant. Johnson opened fire through the cabin door. So what did those polite Canadian Mounties do? Probably they sent him a thank you card for the free bullets, right?
They dynamited Johnson's cabin.
Feeling a draft in there?
That's the danger of relying on stereotypes, folks: Sometimes you get your ass exploded by a man in a silly hat. Somehow, Johnson survived and fled into the wilderness, while temperatures around him plunged to -50 degrees. Despite being entirely without supplies and on foot, Johnson consistently remained ahead of his pursuers, at one point covering 85 miles in under three days. When the police closed off the only passes out of the province, Johnson climbed over a 7,000-foot mountain in a blizzard to continue his escape.
Legends told of a magical thief who would test the boundaries of Canadian decency.
He really, really did not want to apply for that trapping license.
Johnson left behind multiple false trails and habitually wore his snowshoes backward to give the impression that he was heading in the opposite direction. At one point his footprints seemed to split up. When the police disbanded to follow both sets of tracks, they eventually found themselves facing each other again -- both paths had been false. This is starting to sound less like the pursuit of a dangerous fugitive and more like Elmer Fudd tracking Bugs Bunny.
Eventually the Mounties recruited Wilfred "Wop" May, a World War I flying ace, to hunt down Johnson from the air.
The T.S. Quint of this hunt, except he isn't eaten alive. Or is he? (He's not.)
May spotted Johnson walking along a frozen river (he was using the tracks of a herd of caribou to cover his own footprints) and killed him in an ensuing shootout. Johnson was never fully identified. However, he was carrying a small fortune in cash when he died and had some extremely expensive dental work. To add that extra touch of creepy, from the start of the incident up until he died in a mound of frozen caribou crap, Johnson never spoke a word. The only sound anyone ever heard him make was laughter.
Right after he shot a policeman.