On July 10, 1930, Otto Wood made his final escape from Central Prison. To this day, no one knows how he did it. On the lam for six months, he was finally recognized by Salisbury police as he walked through town on December 31. In a bold move, Wood drew a gun on the officers and got into their car, demanding that they drive out of town. When the officers drew their guns, a shootout ensued and Otto Wood was killed on the street.
During his lifetime, Wood was a legend for both his felonious ways and his numerous escapes from jail—the final one was his 11th. During one of his incarcerations, he wrote a short autobiography, entitled Life History of Otto Wood, Inmate, State Prison. From 1923, when he began his sentence for murder, he escaped about once per year until, in 1926, he was placed in solitary confinement.
Wood’s autobiography convinced many of his sympathizers that he was a reformed man. Removed from solitary, he escaped again. Wood was well known as a wily criminal throughout the state and nation, and his story was followed gleefully in the press. In the end, his notoriety was his undoing.
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On July 10, 1920, broadcaster David Brinkley was born in Wilmington.
Brinkley got his start in 1938 as a reporter with the Wilmington Morning Star. After serving briefly in the Army, Brinkley was hired by the NBC radio network as a news writer partly for his knack for “writing for the ear.” In 1956, he was paired with Chet Huntley to cover the Republican and Democratic national conventions.
The duo proved so popular that NBC tapped them to anchor their evening television news program The Huntley Brinkley Report. The program went on to become the number one rated evening newscast of the 1960s. Brinkley reported from Washington, D.C. and Huntley from New York.
In 1981, Brinkley went to work for ABC and hosted a Sunday morning interview program This Week with David Brinkley.
The title of his 1995 book, David Brinkley: 11 Presidents, 4 Wars, 22 Political Conventions, 1 Moon Landing, 3 Assassinations, 2,000 Weeks of News and Other Stuff on Television and 18 Years of Growing Up in North Carolina, reflects the breadth of his career. Among Brinkley’s accolades are 10 Emmys, three George Foster Peabody Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Brinkley died at his home in Texas in 2003 at the age of 82. He is buried in Wilmington’s Oakdale Cemetery.
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