The Escape of Frederick Merrill from the Don Jail 1989

In 1989 Frederick Merrill escaped from the Don Jail. The following is an excerpt from the Ontario Legislature transcipts at the time. Mr Merrill was at large for at least a week and found living in the Ravine.

ESCAPE OF PRISONER

Mr Runciman: My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services. The people of this province are more than a little concerned about the escape of Frederick Merrill from the Don Jail last Wednesday. As we know, Merrill is one of the most dangerous criminals in North America, with a long history of sexual assaults, beatings and murder. He has also escaped from a number of American prisons over the years and made two previous escape attempts from the Don Jail.

Can the minister tell the people of Ontario why a man with this kind of background was able to escape from the Don Jail in Toronto?

Hon Mr Ramsay: I would like to thank the member for his question. Obviously, there is great concern in our ministry and among Ontarians throughout the province about this escape that happened last week. Immediately upon that escape, our day shift people stayed and contributed to the search in the valley. Also, we sent an investigator to the scene immediately, and I am awaiting his report.

Mr Runciman: As usual, we do not get much of an answer. The people of Ontario are wondering why security was so sloppy that this dangerous and violent man, with a long history of jailbreaks and jailbreak attempts, was able to escape from a correctional facility in Ontario.

Can the minister tell us if he is satisfied with the level of security that was present when Mr Merrill escaped, and if not, can he tell the House what specific steps have been taken to ensure that this kind of escape will not happen again?

Hon Mr Ramsey: I would like to give a little background to the member with regard to his question. As the member will know, this is the first escape from this facility in more than 30 years. It is one of the most secure facilities in Ontario. The member should also know there was a one-on-one supervisory situation there, and our initial investigation shows that this was an extraordinary escape, as the member knows, from a roof five storeys high, through barbed wire and razor wire.

This particular exercise area on the roof of the Don Jail, five storeys high, qualified to all the criteria of our maximum-security areas that, as I have said before, has not seen an escape in 30 years.

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10 Responses

  1. Do you know if F Merrill has any children? Is there any pictures of him? I am surching for my father and now I´m afraid that I found him! After 47 years! Is that possible? Where can I find more information abuot this man? Is he still alive? In prison?
    Daughter?

    • I just happened to see an inquiry about Frederick Merrill from you. Did you get the answers to your questions? He is a family member of mine.

  2. Fred was transfered to the USA in or about 2000 from kingston pen. after being caught in New brunswick.He was brought back to Toronto & sent to the Don jail awaiting court when he escaped. This search was the largest manhunt in Toronto history.E-mail me ,I know a little more from America’s most wanted

  3. Hardly the largest manhunt in Toronto history!

    Try Dennis Melvyn Howe.

  4. Actually i knew him well,he stayed with my mother and me, i was 12-13 yrs old,1987-88,he was a repair man at our apt buillding, during that year ended up being close to my mother,all i know is he escaped from a prison in the states, his mom snuck in a small gun in a peanut jar,he was serving time for rape and murder,he escaped then came to Canada,ended up in Toronto,ont, went by the name Chuck,we knew nothing about his history,he seemed to be a cool guy and one day just gone, never seen him again,America’s Most Wanted were at our house,interviewed me and my mom,never seen or heard from him again.All i know is he got caught in a apple orchard in N.B, then shipped back,went to the Don, escaped and got caught 10 days later in Brampton,Where is he today?,,, he’d be about 60 yrs old today, when i knew him, you would have never thought he’d hurt a fly.cheers

    • Hi Steve,
      I’m investigating a terrible murder that occurred in Toronto in August 1987. I am not a law enforcement officer or being paid by the family. She was a lovely young girl, brutally raped and murdered while jogging. Frederick Merrill may have been in the area. I’m trying to figure out the timeline for August 1987. He will be in jail for the rest of his days due to conviction and admission of other heinous crimes. If you can help me, I can possibly help the family with closure.
      Thank you,
      Douglas.

    • Hi Steve,
      Fred was paroled earlier this year. He is 66 and living with his sister in the states. If you have a moment drop me a line. Cheers and best, Monty

  5. oh that freddy, i hope he is doin ok these days. those were rough days for him back in the early ninties. in the east (TEDC) the whole place was on lockdown whenever freddy was on the move. in other words he didnt get out of his cell much.

    • Hi Diezel,
      Fred was paroled this year and is living with his sister in Conneticut. I’m trying to contact people who may have known him in the Don

  6. lock down in the east bull shi- I was there for 6 yrs waiting trial 1988 1994 we were not locked down when he walked pc 4 c w bull shi- I was in 4b east pop get ur facts strait

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