Famous Makeover

Forrest Turner was probably the most famous escape artist we ever had in Georgia. He escaped from prison thirteen times . He was rough and tough and considered dangerous when he was on the loose.

At the time he was in prison Georgia was featured in Time, Life and Newsweek magazines as being inhumane in its treatment of prisoners. It was reported that they were beaten with rubber hoses, were chained, were put in cages, wore stripes, and were improperly fed.

Mr. McCullough, who lived with his family in Fayetteville, had been a prison guard where Forrest Turner was a prisoner. Turner told Mr. McCullough that when he escaped he would come after him. I knew members of the McCullough family and they always lived in fear when Turner was on the loose.

My friend Eugene Hewell told me about an episode his family had with Forrest Turner. He was a baby at the time but could remember part of the encounter. His father was head of Farmers and Merchants Bank when Turner and an associate robbed the bank and took Eugene’s family hostage in their home. Fortunately Forrest Turner was captured with no harm to any of the family members.

Former Governor Ellis Arnall told a story about when Turner had escaped at a time the Governor was scheduled to go out of the state. He received a phone call from Turner the night before saying that if he left town he was going to kidnap his children. A police guard was stationed at the governor’s home and they caught Turner.

When Governor Arnall came back, he went down to see Turner where he was in solitary confinement. Governor Arnall told him that he was either going to kill him or he would have to reform and become a decent citizen. Governor Arnall said he meant what he had said because Turner had threatened to kidnap his children.

From that day on, he reformed. He never escaped again and became a good prisoner. Later he became a very successful businessman. He lived in Decatur and made dentures for dentists. He did a lot of good, going all over the United States speaking about life in prison and the opportunities you had when you got out if you were a model prisoner.