An escaped convict hid out in a shuttered Circuit City for six months

Having escaped from jail, "the most courteous thief in the nation" lived in a shuttered Circuit City and survived on supplies stolen from a neighboring Toys R Us.

It sounds like Jeffrey Manchester's religion eventually led to his capture, and had the escape artist stayed more low-key, he might have stayed on the run for years. His little nest inside Circuit City sounds like he was having a good time, and clearly, Toys R Us inventory controls were unlikely to expose him. Joining a church, where he met someone nice, seems to have created the situation that got him caught: needing money for dates.

The store at 6100 East Independence Ave. in Charlotte had everything he needed. There was baby food to eat, bikes to ride at night for exercise and remote-controlled cars to race around the roof when he was bored. He opened up packages of baby monitors and used them to watch the employees come and go. There was also a bit of serendipity: The Circuit City next door was permanently closed.

Manchester tunneled in, using a board spring-loaded with a bungee cord to make a door. Inside the vacant Circuit City, Manchester used Toys R Us merchandise to decorate a stairwell space fit for a 10-year-old. He made a bed with Spider-Man sheets, put up a Superman poster on the wall and arranged toy models of Yoda. His stack of DVDs included "Matchstick Men," "40 Days and 40 Nights" and "Spider-Man 2." To avoid an accident that would lead to his detection, Manchester installed a smoke detector and a fire extinguisher. He'd traded a 4-foot-by-8-foot cell for a 4-foot-by-10-foot preteen haven.

After a few months in his hideaway, Manchester must have been feeling invincible. In October, he started attending the nearby Presbyterian church, where he met Wainscott. He told her that he worked for the government, but he couldn't tell her exactly what he did. When she asked to see his place, he said it was "a government building, a sterile environment."


Previously: Why Circuit City abandoned its 700 stores