The feds got word I was holed up at my Uncle Jimmy's farm in Bond's Crossing, SC. I had pole vaulted out of the Utah State Prison. Somehow they got a lead and eight police cars, a black Crown FBI sedan, and helicopter pulled into Uncle Jimmy's driveway. They rushed the front porch so fast the best strategy was to stand still with my newly dyed red hair.

'Do you know James Hydrick?' The FBI agent asked me.

'Shore,' I drawled, 'But I ain't seen him.'

The cop radioed the helicopter, 'Is Hydrick's hair black?' and they answered, 'Yes'.

Uncle Jimmy entertained them as I slipped into the house and got into my Ninja gear, and out the back door.

Before me lay a hilly woodland ten miles in diameter cross-cut with animal trails and streams that I knew like the back of my hand. I was wearing the Ninja black leotards, climbing claws and mask, and melted into the forest.

I ran like a deer for a mile before the baying of the bloodhounds started. I cross-cut my tracks to throw them off at the junctures, and waded in streams. That night I slept in a tree.

The next morning the barking of dogs and shouts of six divisions of law enforcement totaling about 100 filled the forest. The helicopter couldn't see me through the canopy except in meadows, and I risked going into a farmhouse because I was hungry. An elderly lady fed me scrambled eggs and I had just finished when the sound of the hounds drew near. I hid under the crawlspace and one of the bloodhounds came up.

'Nice doggie,' I whispered offering it my knuckles to smell. It licked my hand, and then backtracked me in the opposite direction that threw the police off, and I escaped.

I had taken some Cayenne pepper from the kitchen and sprinkled it on my trail. Otherwise the hounds had my scent from the clothes I had left at Uncle Jimmy's. When I heard the hounds sneezing like crazy I knew I was safe. That night I slept in a tree again.

On the third day I risked going to Uncle Jimmy's.

'Who's going to be Santa in church?' Uncle Jimmy bawled. It was Sunday, December 11, 1982, the Sunday before Christmas.

'I'm going to be Santa, Same as always.' I said.

They put me in my Santa pants and black boots, stuck a pillow under my shirt and donned the top, patted red rouge on my cheeks, and I put on the white beard, spectacles and a red cap. We drove Jimmy's jalopy to the Bonds Crossing Pentecostal Church.

I sat up near the alter in a high chair and one-by-one the kids came up and told me what they wanted for Christmas. Their parents in the pews listened closely.

One little boy tugged my beard and asked, 'Is that you James?'

'I'm Santa.' I replied. 'What do you want for Christmas?'

'Lordy, Santa. You stink!' he said. I hadn't showered from the manhunt.

The congregation chuckled and the door burst open. The FBI agent walked in and down the aisle looking for me.

'Ho Ho Ho' I laughed. What do you want for Christmas?

The assembly laughed and the agent and cops got red-faced and retreated out the church.

When I returned to Uncle Jimmie's a note was stuck in the front door with the agent's card.

'Hydrick. I know we're not going to catch you. Please call me and we'll work something out.'

I called, and promised to turn myself in after Christmas.

I did. It was the best Christmas I ever had, almost as good as the manhunt gift.


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