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Linwood and J.B. Briley were the ringleaders in the six inmate escape from Virginia's death row atMecklenburg Correctional Center on May 31, 1984. During the early moments of the escape, in which a co-ordinated effort resulted in inmates taking over the death row unit, both Brileys expressed strong interest in killing the captured guards by dousing them with rubbing alcohol and tossing a lit match.Willie Lloyd Turner, another death row inmate, stepped in the way of James Briley and forbade him to do so.[citation needed] Meanwhile, cop killer Wilbert Lee Evans prevented Linwood Briley from raping a female nurse who had been taken hostage while en route to delivering medication to inmates in the unit.[citation needed]

The group's initial plan was to escape into Canada. Two inmates, Lem Tuggle and Willie Jones, almost succeeded, making it as far as Vermont before capture at gunpoint by police. The group was held at Marble Valley Correctional Facility in Rutland, pending their extradition back to Virginia.

Splitting off from their two remaining co-escapers atPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, the Brileys went to live near their uncle in the north of the city. They were captured on June 19 by a heavily armed group of FBIagents and police, who had determined their location by placing wiretaps on their uncle's phone line.[citation needed] Following their return to Richmond, Virginia, few sought to plead for the Brileys lives to be spared. 

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