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Trying to right a troubled life

Dana Ryan Randle grew up in a hurry. He was 17 when he started his stretch in prison: life, for first-degree murder.

He lifted weights, gambled, got tattoos. To earn status with the other prisoners, he fought. He went after another inmate with a screwdriver.

He was in for murdering a 69-year-old man. He and a buddy tanked up on tequila and broke in. Figured they'd steal some stuff before the owner got home.

But the man was there, asleep. Dana stabbed him in the back and slit his throat.

Now he would grow old in prison. When May 2, 1990, rolled around, Dana already had done seven years _ and he still couldn't be paroled until eight years into the next century.

That morning, he and another inmate were working at the garment factory at Marion Correctional Institution. They packed themselves in boxes that were supposed to be filled with towels, boxes that were loaded onto a truck bound for a warehouse 20 miles from the prison.

As the truck neared the warehouse, it slowed to about 30 mph. They jumped. The other inmate was hurt in the fall and captured, but Dana made it to the woods.

Dozens of state and local police joined the hunt. They brought the usual _ helicopters, tracking dogs _ to catch their fugitive first-degree murderer. They never saw him again.