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[00:00:00]

This podcast is intended for mature audiences, listener discretion is advised. Hello, say. It was about a month later that I got official notice from the parole commission that you're going to be paroled. I mean, I was elated. Here I am going home. I'm getting out of prison. And I thought I was never going to get out of prison. So, of course, I'm happy. Tickled pink. I got about ten or eleven thousand dollars cash in my account, so I'm not leaving prison broke like most prisoners do.

[00:00:51]

I was told by the case manager that my release date would be January twenty seventh, 2010 at approximately 1:00 p.m. and that day I walked out the front door.

[00:01:06]

And I'll be honest and frank with you, I felt like doing a jig dance, jumping up and down and dancing a little bit and so forth. All right, happy, happy days. Wow. But I didn't do that because I didn't want people to think that this guy's screwy, Louis. And he's going to be right back. Look at him getting out of prison, acting like a screwball right away. I didn't do that. I just walked out the door and the penitentiary had a an inmate truck driver there to take me to the bus station.

[00:01:40]

In 2010, 38 years after hijacking a commercial airplane and leading federal authorities on a five day manhunt across the Midwest, Martin McNelly had finally been paroled from prison. Standing at a bus station in central California, Neke asked himself the same existential question that would occur to anyone who had just spent the majority of their life in prison. What next? I'm Danny Whisnant Housekeep, and this is American Skyjacker, the final flight of Martin McInally. In our final episode, Matt is released from prison and attempts to start over in a modern world.

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For the majority of us who have never had to experience it, parole is not a get out of jail free card. Think of it as a system of supervised release, which allows offenders to serve their time outside prison while still under the system's thumb. Mack was technically serving his life sentence for air piracy, and before he could leave prison, he had to submit a resettlement plan for approval by the federal parole authorities.

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I wanted to go to Tennessee, where a good friend of mine ran a business and telemarketing, and I had a lot of girls that I wanted to see, a lot of nice girls. That parole plan was denied, checked out by the Tennessee parole authorities and they said it ain't going to happen. You aren't coming to Tennessee. So then I made another parole plan to come to St. Louis because this is where I was sentenced that was approved.

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Of course, in true Martin McNelly fashion, he found a way to bend the rules instead of a direct bus to St. Louis. He decided to take an unplanned trip, a little tourism to break up the journey.

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I plan to go on the bus to Las Vegas, stay in Las Vegas for twenty four hours. I think that would have been extraordinarily exhilarating, coming right out of prison. I wanted to party in Sin City.

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I mean, to Vegas and I walked around for an hour before the bus had to take off, I bought some cigarettes and noticed the price and then I bought some candy and the candy cost, I think a dollar years ago, this candy cost about 10 cents. And I told the clerk, I said this price has risen in the last couple of decades, got back on the bus and we're about 60 miles from St. Louis. I had the phone number of the halfway house.

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I asked one of the dudes with his cell phone work. We made a phone call on this thing, giving him the numbers. He said, sure. So he handed me the cell phone and looked at this thing, it was a flip phone, I told him I can't make a phone call, I can't use this. Could you make the phone call for me this year? So he dialed in the numbers and everything. I made the call and I connected with the halfway house and I told him who I am and I'm coming in.

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I said, I'm going 60 miles an hour. This is absolutely unbelievable talking to you from a bus. I can't believe this technology that we have nowadays. That was absolutely startling and stunning to see how things have changed since 1972 to twenty. In his first 24 hours of freedom, Max senses were overwhelmed by both awe and alienation. Remember, Mack entered prison in 1972, and while he struggled just to survive, he was missing everything else in the world.

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And the totality of that loss was so much more than just candy price inflation or smartphones. It's an overwhelming experience recognizing the world that's passed you by. I survived thirty seven years in the belly of the beast. You talk about violence, I've seen it. I've taken Bonecrusher to my forehead here. I'd taken a bone crusher across my cheek here, missing a little bit of my skull, but I survived. It was very traumatic. I really haven't I haven't left prison.

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I'm still in prison. I think about it all the time. And I have dreams. Is it PTSD or something like that? I don't know. But for somebody who's been through this, I don't survive. The combination of being a stranger in a strange land and the constant fear and stigma surrounding criminal convictions means many newly released parolees find themselves in a vulnerable position.

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If they lack a legitimate support system, their options shrink, some turn back to the careers that landed them in prison. Mack had always been his own support system, and he, of course, already had a scheme in mind, so I was in a halfway house. The federal bureau came in there and asked me what I was going to do. And I told my plan to start some businesses and I'm going to do well. Well, my real plan was to stay here for about 30 days, not very long, and take off on the way.

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I had intentions of robbing banks. I know. And open up bank vaults. I won't tell you how, but it wouldn't be the snatch and grab two or three thousand dollars in a bank job. He'd be taking everything in the vault, taking managers hostage and families hostages and so forth. That was my intention. No, I was going to come here to St. Louis and be gone. Deep in the conservative south of 1970s Atlanta, Mike Thebus, the son of Greek immigrants, was a man driven by endless ambition.

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He had everything a wife and five kids, the largest mansion in Atlanta, and a rumored 100 million dollar fortune. But the success came at a price as the community shunned him and he became entangled in a web of murder, mob connections and love affairs.

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It is the money, obviously, that attracts organized crime.

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I don't have any knowledge as to what happened to Mr. Hanna. He was a personal friend of mine, and I just think it's a terrible tragedy.

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There's no doubt in my mind that they are nervous at best about having to do business with Mike Devis society.

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Do not take it seriously when criminals kill each other. So Mike Thebus walked out this door to freedom. Some are speculating he may be in Colombia or Costa Rica, countries which before have harbored United States criminals.

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This is Gangster House, the unbelievable story of Mike Thebus family man and the so-called Sultan of smut.

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Listen and subscribe to Gangster House right now on Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:09:44]

True features the often weird but always true stories of strange events and unforgettable moments.

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Each episode explores unusual, obscure, sometimes funny, sometimes creepy stories, stories that are so bizarre that you won't believe that the real. But they are because, yeah, they're true.

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Listen and subscribe to True right now on Apple podcast or wherever you get your favorite shows. Whether Mac was truly considering a bank robbing spree at the age of 66, no one can say not even Mac. He never got the chance to set the scheme in motion because within those first 30 days of freedom, a new path presented itself. If you think of life as a puzzle and a person goes into prison as a piece of puzzle and they go into prison and hopefully they get programming and they get some form of rehabilitation and that puzzle piece shifts, they change.

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That's Heidi Moore, the former director of St Vincent de Paul Rent, a release program, a St. Louis organization that works with ex convicts.

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And then we come back out and we try sticking them back into the puzzle that they came from and they don't always fit, so they either have to go back to their old behaviors and patterns to fit into their society or the family structure that they left from or they have to find somewhere else for that new piece fits. Now, imagine being in prison that entire time and you come out and all of a sudden you're looking at milk. There's almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, there's store brand milk, there's dairy milk.

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I mean, there's all these selections for milk. They're on overload. They don't know how to make any decisions like that. Some of them went from having their mom take care of them to a spouse, take care of them to the prison, taking care of them. And then they didn't understand about basics like cleaning the house or paying bills, putting up deposits for electricity, just basic items that most of us take for granted. Or perhaps we either learned through the course of life our family taught us not all of them had that luxury.

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A few weeks after Mack arrived at the halfway house in St. Louis, Heidi was there for a meeting.

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I was at Dismas House, which is a federal halfway house here in St. Louis, Missouri. And while I was there, the director of Dismas House, Anthony Ugo's. You like those long term offender? That's who you work with. And I'm like, yeah, those are great. The longer they've done in prison, the better it is for us. So we've got a guy who hijacked a couple of airplanes and he did thirty six years, a lot of it in administrative segregation.

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And I was like, great, I'll take you. So Anthony and I set up the interview and Martin came down to our office. With Heidi's help, Mack moved into his own apartment after just 90 days in the halfway house while he was far from her most difficult client, Mack did have numerous quirks that were more a source of entertainment than concern.

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I wasn't worried about him going out and getting drunk and doing anything. So it was keeping him occupied with his time in a way that wasn't going to get him into trouble. Like not stirring the pot to instigate things with the feds was constantly what we were trying to oversee. And he not only would seek me on almost every email, he would seek his fed on every email for years.

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And he was always falling. I shouldn't say falling, but he was always participating in the scams, the Internet scams, you, the Nigerian prince, or whatever those scams are all of us knew about or had learned about.

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Martin was frequently sending money to banks in London, while Mack was always trying to make a quick buck by mostly legitimate means. He was also openly aware of the struggles others experienced in the world around him.

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Some of the guys would help us set up apartments so Martin would volunteer and help us do some of that. He started volunteering at a food pantry, although he wasn't necessarily formally educated with advanced college degrees. I mean, he knew how to read a book. He knows how to research, and he was comfortable doing that on his own.

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The next year consisted of Mac meeting with his parole officer and riding the bus around St. Louis to his weekly meetings with Heidi and other cards and participating in a variety of vaguely legal and vintage Mac McNally moneymaking schemes.

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There was some magazine he would sell back to inmates and he would get a slice of the cast. I'm pretty sure he was spoken to by his PM more than once about this, that he wasn't supposed to be selling items to men in prison and making money off of them. He would have just a bunch of watches. And if some man had just come home from prison that day, Martin would give him a free watch now. That's for me. Everyone else has got to pay.

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If you all want to watch, you better pay up. But you can have one for free for after group. He was always a riot. Max settled in over the next four years. He enjoyed something he'd never had before. An anonymous, law abiding life. And this is where I entered the story in June of 2014.

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Unfortunately, I can't stay as long as I hope you can stay 10 minutes or an hour or whatever.

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Our first interview on that summer afternoon took place in the Tower Grove East apartment. Heidi Moore had originally placed him in a few blocks from a large city park and a stretch of trendy restaurants and bars that he never visited. Mac instead kept boxes of Milwaukee's best tallboys stacked like artillery shells in his small kitchen during this interview. He sat on a threadbare busted couch opposite a 93 tube TV and a desktop computer. His two black and white cat's spot in SPAC, whom he adores, are virtually identical, and they entered and exited through the open front door at their leisure.

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You've got questions. What would you like to know? We might as well start from the beginning, if you're all right with that. Absolutely.

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Of course, over the next five years I would explore much of the story you just heard through interviews with Mac and the other sources who have supporting roles in this saga. Most notably in the summer of 2016, I would be invited by Mac's parole officers to join them for an unannounced visit tomorrow.

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And Steinberg will be barred. Regular man and my. That's fantastic. Danny, good to see you doing this. You wanted him to document the good news. I'm not. Forget Guy. Really. Neuralstem off. Oh, no, I'm disappointed.

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You know, it's an excellent point.

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It's a it's a happy moment.

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What we need well, we need to do is have you come over at least once a month. I need to see you. I know you're going to say that you did. I like it, especially when the female paedos come over here. It's a very rarely that I have people coming into my house and telling you I'm not I'm not changing my phone number.

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I still have my phone number. OK, this is this is my appeal. You can take with you the appeal that I was going to submit.

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Yeah. I didn't expect this. Hey, I did not expect this, but I certainly appreciate that. No, I can go any place in the country.

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I chronicled this moment and much of Mac's wild life and a cover story I wrote for St. Louis, his alt weekly The Riverfront Times in the winter of twenty seventeen. But even today, I have nagging questions, the first is the one that has been asked since Mac hijacked Flight 119 in late June of 1972. Why did he do it? Why did he choose this insane criminal act rather than living the straight life? Everyone we interviewed for this epic tale, who knew Martin McNally and his story have their own theories, he was crazy, he was greedy, he wanted thrills in the spotlight.

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He was a dumb kid who made a terrible mistake. I have my own theory, here it goes. Go back to the beginning, little Marty McNally, a misbehaving kid in the early 1950s suburbia of Detroit, lost for attention among his many siblings. It was here that he first decided to make up his own rules, faced with his father's discipline, little Marty lit things on fire, quit high school and joined the Navy. And they're still Mack made his own rules and disobeyed orders.

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The truth is, chaos wasn't an aberration in Mac's life, but its theme. Instead of a quiet life in his father's shoe shop, McNally chose to mint fake pocket change and scam filling stations. Martin McNally was a rebel just because. Then he took to the skies using chaos to bend the world to his will in the shape of that chaos and in its aftermath, Martin McNally didn't just fine control. He unearthed talents in courage and perseverance. It was in chaos and in crime where he found himself.

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It's just too bad that that self discovery cost in nearly 40 years in prison. But that's all armchair psychoanalysis every time I've asked Mack why he did it. His response has always been the same. Then there was the other question that always lingered after prison why did Mack return to St. Louis? Aside from his crimes, Mack had no connections in the city, no family, no friends. When asked in the past, Mack always gave some version of the following answer.

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I told my case manager, I said, I'm not going back to Detroit. I don't have anything to do with my family.

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And since I was sentenced in St. Louis, Missouri, that's why I'm going to go just returning to the scene of the crime, because I don't know anybody in St. Louis. I don't know anybody at all, don't know the city, don't know the area and didn't know nothing at all about this place.

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But he did settle on St. Louis. So why return to the scene of the crime, as Mac put it, and why stay there for nearly a decade? The simple answer, Mac had nowhere to go. He'd severed himself from his family and had no connections on the outside. So the federal government simply shipped him back to the original site of his greatest criminal acts. But the motivations of Martin McNally are never simple, and he never seemed to stop thinking one move ahead.

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It's why he didn't give up after David Hanley drove a Cadillac into his plane in 1972. Or why, after watching his fortune disappear into the clouds, he didn't unclasp his parachute.

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And the whole saga that in there in the spring of 2019, on an otherwise insignificant Tuesday morning, Mac asks my producers to pick him up at his place. He wants to show us something. When was the first time that you were here? Oh, God, I think in 2010, sometime in 2010. Mack directs us down I 55, south of the city along the Mississippi River. It's a perfect sunny late April day without a cloud in the crystalline blue sky.

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Mac has us open all the windows in the car as we exit the highway, allowing the wind to blow through his chin length silver hair tucked ironically beneath a black baseball cap emblazoned with the white stitched letters simply reading. FBI on the front. Still about three quarters of a mile, I believe it will turn right. Finally, we come to the austere white column and red brick entrance to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, where over one hundred and eighty eight thousand veterans have been laid to rest, is the entryway into the cemetery.

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We drive in passing a gleaming black hearse and a line of cars behind it. Idling before midday funeral mass directs us to one of the many gradually sloping grassy knoll dotted with the evenly spaced white marble headstones and instructs us to park along the curb. Mack leads the way, walking through the ankle high grass along a row of graves marked with names and dates spanning the past 150 years. And finally he stops. Facing one headstone in particular, head bowed. The name chiseled into the white marble.

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Barbara Oswald, the mother of five who had died trying to free a group of prisoners so many years ago. It was shortly after I arrived here, I knew that Barbara was interned here because when she was killed, this cemetery told her family that they don't want her body buried here and her children, five children told us, these people here, that she qualifies for burial in a military cemetery. She was honorably serving in the military. And this is where it's going to be.

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She wanted to be buried here. So she's buried here.

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And it's definitely one one event that I seriously regret.

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Barbara had five children and we destroyed your family, drove her to her death. Barbara, I know you can hear me wherever you're at, and I'm really sorry that this happened. Mack himself never met the family he helped destroy, it was Gerra Trapnell who manipulated Barbara, and she likely had no idea who Mack was, only that he would be with her beloved in the prison yard.

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But four years after his release, Mack had been quietly visiting Barbara Oswald's grave. Heidi Moore was one of the few people who knew Mac did this.

[00:25:30]

He goes and visits her grave at the VA cemetery, and he has ever since he got out, often alone. I think that that is his way of expressing remorse for what happened to her and her family.

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He was very self-centered and has acknowledged that he wasn't thinking beyond just being able to get out of prison. I believe that him going and visiting with her is his way of trying to find some peace. Mac may not have ever talked to Barbara or Robyn Oswald, but he knew Trapnell was a liar and a user and he never tried to stop him. Trapnell was willing to throw away the life of a 17 year old girl who could have easily been shot by FBI snipers.

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And Mac had watched, advised and stood ready to accept the benefits of Trepp abuse. So even if Mac didn't move to St. Louis with the intention of making spiritual amends, I'd like to think that at the very least, it's better late than never. When I do kick off, I hope be put in a coffin and within a short period of time put in the ground and I don't want an autopsy, I don't want my body cut up and I don't want my body embalmed, all of that stuff.

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I just want my body dropped over there at the military cemetery. I hate to even shed a tear over some of this stuff because that's what I don't want to do. I'd rather have a smile. A good smile, and that's all I can say. I'm not happy, but a good smile anyway.

[00:27:34]

Buried cash, DEA moles, skydiving planes, a group of college friends took advantage of Colorado's marijuana laws to traffic thousands of pounds of pot out of state for sale on the black market.

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One of the longest, most lucrative smuggling runs in U.S. history. Listen and subscribe to the syndicate right now on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:28:06]

Available now from Imperative Entertainment in Texas Monthly, a new 10 part podcast series called Boomtown about the biggest oil boom in history. Boomtown takes you to a rugged corner of West Texas, where roughnecks and billionaire wildcatters are fueling a boom so big it's reshaping our climate, our economy and our geopolitics. We'll get an inside look at the people cashing in and those whose lives are turned upside down. Find weekly episodes of Boomtown wherever you get your podcasts. Martin McNally's life had followed a consistent pattern of day to day monotony, punctuated by short stretches of intense chaos and change, and 2019 followed a similar pattern.

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He spent much of his days watching true crime documentaries that often featured his former prison buddies and feeding his cats. Then it was punctuated by a new kind of chaos, cataracts had begun to cloud both of his baby blue eyes. And by the time we take our trip to Barbara Oswald's grave, Mack is half blind. A few months later, his health would take another hit as the summer heat settled on St. Louis. Mack would have what doctors at the local VA Medical Center would diagnose as a minor stroke.

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Then, as fall began, the landlord of Mack's apartment building, where Mack had lived for the vast majority of his life since getting out of prison. Informed him the dilapidated building had been sold and Mac would have to move out by the end of the month.

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All of this would be incredibly stressful for anyone of any age. For a 75 year old loner who suddenly found himself going blind and about to be homeless. It meant, once again, finding a way to survive, Mack began by reaching out to his family in Detroit who had the mutually written off decades before back when he assumed he was destined to die in prison. His youngest sister, Claire, answered his call, giving Mack a rental property that she owned to live in.

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One of the very first things I'm going to do is take the king sized bed and I'll probably set it on the floor and go to sleep soon. Clear on her way and go to sleep.

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She arrives the final weekend of October in a cargo van towing a trailer to help Mack move all his worldly possessions, including Spartan's. Back on the five hundred plus mile journey back to Detroit is back spring.

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We could leave it. I can find out if it's OK. I have room. I'll take it. I think I'll leave all this frozen strawberries for five years or so. It's pretty, very near where I think. One evening on that final weekend in St. Louis, he decides to throw a going away party at perhaps the perfect place for an skyjacker leaving town for good.

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I am excited about the night tonight. I'm very excited. I'm encouraged that those people would like to see me. Mac chooses D.B. Cooper Safe House, a Broetje Princeton Heights sports bar with excellent wings and beers named after the very man who inspired Mac to hijack a plane in the first place. Can Canberra's cause a dollar twenty five. So I'm going to give them a hundred and twenty five dollars and give out a hundred cans to the patrons there for his own reasons.

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On the occasion, Mac has ordered a one hundred dollar sheet of one dollar bills fresh from the mint, which he cuts and signs technically against the law, and then presents to the somewhat confused bar manager who is eventually flattered by the gesture.

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You think it would be better to have the bartender announce that it's up to you? Yeah, let's tell the bartender.

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Announcer Oh. Oh, well, hey, guys. Hey, what's up, baby? This is actually in the house. We would like to buy a bottle of beer. You know, Cooper, almost, almost.

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Heidi Moore and a number of fellow columns show up to see Mackoff, how are you?

[00:33:03]

I know. Oh my God, it's good to see you need to stay out. Blind guy broken. Yes, I remember you. Yes, I did. Style plane, everything. 747. Yes. I have to take a picture with you. You can do that. Yes. It's amazing. You do? Yes. You go to Michigan. You stay at my house. You can swim. We can fish. We can water ski. That actually happened.

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I didn't know about that because you never.

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I know it's a good night.

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Everyone seems genuinely sad to see Macko, especially Heidi Moore. Martyn's my buddy.

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I moved to St. Lewis in 2005 and I met Martin in 2010. So he's been a part of my saintliness experience longer than I was in St. Louis without him. And I'm going to miss him, even though I didn't see him as often as I used to.

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I have no doubt anything within his power, if I needed it, he would do it for me and not just me, anyone that I would vouch for or if we needed something done.

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He's such a unique person and he has a great heart that he doesn't want anyone to know about.

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He cares about the underdog when he doesn't want people to know he cares about the underdog and he looks out for people in a way that will often be underestimated. And there's no doubt in my mind he did that for people in prison, too, even if he will never speak about it. My buddy, it's the only way I know how to really describe it.

[00:34:52]

And I'll miss him when he's gone back to Michigan. I have a feeling I'll probably never see him again after he's gone. OK, let's go. Mack will return to Detroit, coming full circle to who he was before being arrested outside his home there 47 years earlier, months will pass. We'll get a couple updates in that time of Mac reconnecting with the members of his family, as well as meeting new ones who were born and grew up while he was away in prison.

[00:35:31]

Maquila cataract surgery on both eyes, restoring his vision entirely in the first weeks of the New Year. A month or so later, he has fully recovered. We visit him in Detroit and see a new man with a sharp haircut, living in a small house with a large backyard in a quiet neighborhood of Winnicott, a few miles from the home he grew up in. OK, we're going to be going in here looking at my mansion, got a very nice house here and I think you're going to enjoy it as much as I do.

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This is the living room and I've got a very nice flat screen TV heater and radio that radios from 1950. My father used to have that in his business.

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Got a nice leather couch because me 80 bucks. I'm going to take you into my kitchen here. Got a very nice kitchen, some very expensive paperweights glass. Unbelievably expensive. I got my cup, Big Mac. That was prepared by a friend of mine who was doing life in prison for bank robbery, and I got this coffee pot cup, coffee pot. I drink about 200 cups of coffee every week. OK, let's go outside. I want to show you the backyard.

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This is a big yard. Got these trees here this summer. I'm going to have a table here and I'm going to have my grill.

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I'm going to do a lot of cooking steaks out here, bringing friends over, having a drink and enjoying the sunlight.

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A lot of sun in here. It's the perfect place for an old crook to live out the rest of his days, quietly reconnecting with his family, reflecting on the life you lead and letting this be the last next step you'll ever have to scheme for. But that's not Marte McNally style. There's one thing in particular still on his list, flying on an airplane again, of course, the last time Mack boarded a commercial airplane, he hijacked it and demanded half a million dollars.

[00:37:51]

Would the airlines even sell him a ticket? It's not clear if he can actually fly. When I got out of prison in California, I told the case manager that I needed to determine if I was on the no fly list. Case manager wouldn't help me out. I got four aircraft piracy convictions under my belt. There was no way that they're going to let me on a plane.

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I figured. Quick side note about the no fly list, it's kept highly confidential for obvious security reasons, the few people that are on it won't know it until they show up at the airport for a flight. And by then, the authorities will be able to ask the necessary questions or worse.

[00:38:35]

There was no way for Mac to know if he was on that list. Of course, there was only one way to find out. On to the Detroit Metro Airport right now, I'm feeling a little bit nervous because I haven't been on a plane in nearly 50 years. This is the first time. So I don't know how it's going to be. They're going to have to imagine tighter security than they did.

[00:39:02]

Back in seventy two, we head to the airport to buy a ticket, though Mac notices some changes. By the time we leave the parking garage, it's called Back Online, where you just keep walking forward if you can. This is my second secretary of state, John. Well, I'll be damned. Unbelievable. Despite the wide variety of airlines to choose from and that goes with the one he knows best. American. He picks a destination to visit, we won't reveal where, and we approached the desk to buy tickets.

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After a surprisingly tense few moments. Our tickets are issued. So far, it seems Mack is free to fly the friendly skies, assuming we get through security, of course, we do think this meeting will take place once again.

[00:40:20]

All right.

[00:40:20]

Where she goes one day, 27, other than some jovial questions from the TSA about his FBI hat, Mac cruises through security without incident, even jokingly asks about job opportunities.

[00:40:34]

Once he is through, I can get a job for 17 bucks an hour to start. Are you looking for a part time job?

[00:40:43]

Yeah, I'm just a senior citizen trying to get a job at the airport. You like this young Jack? It first, we'll show it to her, get to the front, scannon probably walk right on that way for them to call a number of those groups in the group, the group number on there. Yes, I saw it. And wait for that a little further down the line. Number six, the ones in the water. Be kidding.

[00:41:18]

OK, Danny, you ready to go. All right. OK, let's go. A very nervous today, very nervous looking good so far. I hope so. We were now on a commercial airplane with a man who, unbeknownst to everyone else on board, had hijacked two planes in as many hours, evaded a manhunt and nearly escaped the most secure prison in America.

[00:41:48]

Once aboard, he already has demands, namely about the size of the plane itself, service, which is, well, truly clear on a plane one time. Are you making fun of my plane about this plane? I like the. Oh, my God, this small. And one of the figures there. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Eric Cantor will be at the scene of the crime scene along with Wendy is important to us.

[00:42:24]

Please for a moment and direct your attention to the front of the aircraft. Look at the personal article should be viewed either overhead or underneath the seat in front of you to prepare for departure. With pleasure. Tray table, place your seat, the original upright position and lower your around. Soon, we are taxiing away from the airport towards the runway, it is all gone smoothly until this point. And then we stop. And I take taking captain speaking due to the weather, they are starting to get some delays.

[00:42:53]

We don't have a major delay, but they don't have us taking off for another 30 minutes. So we're going to charge you. Twenty years, something like that, we are ready to move because they think that the best way to us that ever since I can answer on their behalf, apologize for that, they wouldn't let me off my ass to get off. Wouldn't let me off. Why not?

[00:43:20]

We try to explain what little we know about FAA rules and regulations, but that doesn't seem to care. I'd be lying if I said those next 20 plus minutes stopped in a staging area between the runway and the airport didn't pass without some tedium. It occurred to me that we were in a similar place to where Max hijacked plane had been directed once he had taken control of it in June of 1972. Out of the Jets porthole windows, I watched every vehicle it cruised by outside.

[00:43:52]

None of them presumably carrying hostages or ransom money or parachutes. After 15 minutes, I started thinking about law enforcement forming a perimeter around the plane, plotting to raid it and pull back and our crew off to be detained and questioned. Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for your patience, we are cleared for takeoff, but nothing so dramatic happens, at least not to the majority of those on board the flight who aren't aware one of their fellow passengers may be the most notorious living skyjacker in the world today, a living relic of the golden age of skyjacking.

[00:44:40]

I think they're going to make a turkey and shoot us and shoot that. It's about a three mile bike ride. That's 15000 feet. So get ready. For those of us who do know the whole incredible story of this old man in the FBI had an Elvis sunglasses sitting at the back of the plane, there is something supremely satisfying about this moment. Get ready to go see the heart breaks, at least Rakestraw. A small time crook who took a shot at the big score and failed was banished to prison to die, only to survive and somehow make it out alive.

[00:45:53]

A legend from a legendary time. Now flying again. All I can say is it wasn't worth. Stupid. Bordering on insane. It's no excuse for not zero what I like to relive it. No way. No way. But if I didn't have to relive it, I wouldn't kill myself. I would, because where there's life, there's hope and everybody has to believe that there's hope. American skyjacker is written, created and produced by Eli Kooris and Joshua Schaffer of Penélope Pictures, executive produced by Jason Hoak and produced by Andrew Richards of Imperative Entertainment, hosted and co-produced by myself.

[00:47:05]

Danny Wasn't Housekeep co-produced and Sound, edited by Nick Snackers, assistant edited by Max Drank, Poll Associate produced by David Manzie, an archive produced by Chris Morcom. Our artwork is by Jeff Corwin. Music composition is by Michael Kramer with assistance from Adam Teb of Tinman Music Sound mixing by Shindig Music and Sound based on the beach in Playa del Rey, California, hosted recording by Clayton Studios in St. Louis and additional sound mixing and voice recording by Christy Williams archive Legal by Davis Wright Tremaine and Production Legal by Sean Fosset of Raymond Legal PC American Skyjacker is a co-production between Imperative Entertainment and Penélope Pictures.

[00:47:53]

Follow us on Instagram at American Skyjacker or at or pictures. And please write and review the podcast on whatever platform you listen to. Thanks again for listening. From the Westwood One podcast network.