Fugitives taunt their pursuers on the Internet, Facebook, MySpace

Carefree: Craig Lynch, who escaped from a prison in England, urges people who see him to call the British equivalent of 911.
Carefree: Craig Lynch, who escaped from a prison in England, urges people who see him to call the British equivalent of 911. (Facebook)
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By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 7, 2010

Craig "Lazie" Lynch was hanging out in someone's kitchen, half-naked and wrapped in a Christmas garland, gleefully holding a turkey while flipping an entirely different kind of bird.

He was supposed to be in jail.

In the past two weeks, this little paradox has made him a folk hero to thousands of people around the world.

He stands for something. Or he's a raging idiot.

The story so far: Lynch, a 28-year-old Brit, was serving a seven-year sentence for burglary at a low-security prison outside of Suffolk, England. He escaped in September 2009. Police issued a public appeal for tips to his whereabouts; in late December someone informed the local paper that his whereabouts were completely transparent. On Lynch's recently updated Facebook page, he was complaining about the weather, feasting on a venison steak and "thinkin, which lucky girl will be my first of 2010!!"

After news of his Facebooking became public but failed to lead to an arrest, Lynch decided to go for broke and act like a complete jerk.

"I had a funny feelin that my door was going to come off this mornin," he wrote in one smug post guaranteed to torque law enforcement officials everywhere. "Then I remembered the [police] are thick as [dung]. And went back to sleep."

He posted the Christmas turkey photo, plus another in which he held a placard encouraging people who spotted him to dial 999, the British equivalent of 911.

"We've got ongoing queries to locate him," Suffolk police spokeswoman Anne-Marie Breach says wearily. "We're asking for information on where he actually, physically is," not just what his virtual updates might imply.

After Facebook apparently shut down Lynch's personal profile last week, fan sites began springing up, one run by someone claiming to have been in touch with Lynch. It gained more than 40,000 members worldwide before Facebook removed it on Monday. A replacement group has already acquired more than 2,000 followers. A Facebook spokesman declined to comment on the site's actions, citing the ongoing investigation.

"Fugitives since, what, Jesse James have been chiding their pursuers," writes Bryan Burrough, who has written several books about American criminals, via e-mail. You had Bonnie and Clyde leaving behind written odes to their exploits, the Zodiac killer sending missives to San Francisco newspapers. "What is genuinely fascinating now is that, while for years a crook might chide a cop in a phone call or handwritten note, they can now do it for all the world to see." As with all things on the Internet, the elimination of the middle man makes the story infinitely more personal. Imagine the follower count that would exist for Bonnie Parker's Twitter feed.

The fascination with fugitives "lies in our devotion to live by workaday rules," Burrough says. "Don't cut in line. Please the boss. . . . We all do this, to some degree of frustration, and thus we tend to live vicariously through the exploits of those like Dillinger or even Lynch."

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