The Old-Time Herald Volume 9, Number 6

Off the Record:
Otto Wood the Bandit

by Kinney Rorrer

Otto Wood’s prison photo dominated the front page of The Salisbury Evening Post, (Salisbury, NC) on Dec. 31, 1930. The headline read “Otto Wood Is Killed Here.” Courtesy archives of The Salisbury Post, Salisbury, NC.
The Carolina Buddies, shown in this 1931 photo are (l to r): Odell Smith, Norman Woodlieff, and Walter Smith.Photo courtesy Kinney Rorrer
File courtesy of Jim Reidy's Honking Duck site

He loved the women and he hated the law
And he just wouldn’t take nobody’s jaw.

So sang Walter “Kid” Smith in his 1931 composition about a man who was known as North Carolina’s “one man crime wave,” Otto Wood. Also dubbed the “Houdini of Cell Block A,” Wood had cemented a national reputation for his crimes, but it was unquestionably his daring prison escapes that most caught the public imagination. It was his string of daredevil jail breaks—four of which were from North Carolina’s Central Prison in Raleigh—that gained Otto Wood such notoriety. His escapes were all the more remarkable considering that he had a crippled foot and was missing his left hand!

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