Then Godwin escaped from a prison in Mexico, too.
In 1980, Godwin, a then-23-year-old tool salesman, had no prior criminal record when he and his roommate Frank Soto conceived a plan to rob local drug runner Kim Robert LeValley. But Godwin took it a step further, stabbing the victim 26 times with a butcher knife, according to Fox News.
Even Godwin’s accomplice Soto was shocked with his roommate’s actions, calling him “the most dangerous man I have ever met.”
After an attempted escape from Deuel Vocational Institute, Godwin was transferred to the maximum-security Folsom State Prison in Represa, California. Just five months later on June 5, 1987, Godwin became one of the few people to ever escape from Folsom in its 124-year-history.
Retracing his steps, prison personnel discovered that Godwin had cut through security bars inside a walled prison yard and then crawled 1,000 feet through a storm drain, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time. At the end of the storm drain, Godwin cut through two additional sets of bars.
Dumbfounded prison officials concluded that someone from outside the prison had likely cut the storm drain bars prior to his escape, because it was the only way to explain how he vanished so quickly. Authorities also determined someone smuggled tools into the prison for Godwin to use when escaping.
Upon reaching the end of the storm drain, Godwin finished his journey aboard an inflatable raft left for him on the American River, where he ditched his prison clothes and followed directional markings painted on rocks.
At the time of Godwin’s escape, then-prison spokesman Lt. Mike Yarborough told the Los Angeles Times that there had been “very, very few escapes” since the prison opened in 1880. He was just the third inmate to escape in 25 years.
Godwin, meanwhile, evaded authorities by fleeing to Mexico, where he was sentenced to Jalisco State Penitentiary for cocaine trafficking, according to the FBI. There, he killed a fellow inmate belonging to a Mexican drug cartel, which delayed U.S. efforts to have Godwin extradited. On September 26, 1991, Godwin escaped from that prison and has evaded authorities ever since.
Due to a lack of information released from Mexican authorities, little is known about how Godwin escaped the second time. “We didn’t get any detailed account from the Mexican prison,” FBI Special Agent Dan Rodriguez told Business Insider. “What we have kind of speculated at this point was that he was able to make some cartel friends down there. So in exchange for committing a murder within the Mexican penitentiary, they would assist him with an escape out of that prison.”
The FBI added Godwin, now 55, to the Most Wanted list on December 7, 1996. According to the FBI’s wanted poster, Godwin is fluent in Spanish and could be working to distribute narcotics in Mexico, Central America, and/or South America. The FBI is offering $US100,000 for information leading to his arrest.
“From my understanding he was pretty fluent in Spanish, so any Spanish-speaking country would be ideal for him, because he’s a pretty charismatic guy and he always knew how to communicate and relate to people,” Rodriguez said. “So anywhere where the language is spoken would be an ideal location for him.”
But the FBI isn’t ruling out the possibility that Godwin is hiding inside the U.S. Rodriguez said another convict who escaped from prison several years before Godwin was found in the U.S. with an authentic driver’s licence under a fake name.
“It’s possible he could be here under some assumed name or some alias, and he could have proper identification with that name,” Rodriguez said. He urged the public not to second-guess themselves if they think they have sighted Godwin. “We still get a lot of tips saying that he’s here in the U.S.,” he said. “Whatever tip we get we vet it out and track it down just to confirm it isn’t him.”
The FBI believes Godwin is very interested in his physical appearance due to excessive vanity. For that reason, he probably stays physically fit and carefully maintains his hair and other attributes in the same manner he would have during the time of his conviction.
“He’s always been very vain and very meticulous about his appearance and his physique,” Rodriguez said.