The Man Who Got Away

Apr 25, 2009 - by J. J. Maloney - 0 Comments


Albert Bradford: a/k/a Malik Hakim

Albert Bradford: a/k/a Malik Hakim

The story of Albert Bradford, a talented and charismatic man who went to prison at the age of 17 with three life sentences for rape, transformed himself into an artist of note and a leader of men -- then committed his most heinous crime of all and beat the system.

by J. J. Maloney

(Ed. Note: One would think that Albert Bradford would be high up on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, but it never happened – even though he owes the state of Missouri the balance of three life sentences, and is wanted for trial in a crime more shocking and brutal than the ones that earned him those life sentences. It is a strange and fascinating tale of how this man beat the system.)


On March 12, 1951, 17-year-old Albert Bradford entered the courtroom of Judge Harry F. Russell in St. Louis, Missouri. He was charged with two counts of rape and two counts of armed robbery. One of the two women raped by Bradford was white. Bradford might have expected a sentence of five, or even ten years, which at that time would be normal for a teenaged first offender.

When Judge Russell announced a sentence of life imprisonment, Bradford cried out, "Judge, have mercy on me!" while his mother and other female relatives began screaming. During the ensuing melee that broke out, with Bradford’s hysterical mother being ordered out of the courtroom, someone split the cheek of deputy constable Venable Slater.

Finally subdued, Bradford was sentenced to a second term of life imprisonment, at which point he cried out, "Oh, god!" and fainted. Bradford was still in a faint when the third life sentence was imposed.

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