Lonas Ray Caughorn was born on June 6, 1926, and became a leader of the safe-cracking “Tennessee Torch Gang.” He also became known as the “Hoosgow Houdini” for his many escapes from jails and prisons. On February 12, 1958, Caughorn escaped from the State Prison in Nashville, TN, and was later captured in Atlanta, GA accompanied by a red-haired, Knoxville woman, Kathryn Louise (Kay) Underwood Caughorn. They said that they had been married several days earlier. They were soon divorced. Later, because of his many escapes, he was sent to Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco, CA, in June 1960. When Alcatraz was closed in 1963 Caughorn was returned to the Atlanta Federal Prison and later was transferred to the Georgia state prison in Reidsville, GA. After serving time in Tennessee and Louisiana he was released from prison there on March 19, 1969. On June 17, 1971, Caughorn was killed by shots from a 30-caliber rifle and a 32-caliber pistol by an Acadia Parish farmer and his son during a robbery attempt in Louisiana. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
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Wesley G. Morgan, Ph.D.