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When Daniel Wolfe was just 12 years old, he co-founded what was to become Canada's largest criminal gang. (RCMP/RCMP)
When Daniel Wolfe was just 12 years old, he co-founded what was to become Canada's largest criminal gang. (RCMP/RCMP)

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The ballad of Daniel Wolfe Add to ...

He explained about the driver who had been interrogated. “Wonder if he rolled?” the undercover said.

“Yeah, he rolled,” said Daniel. He pointed his finger and thumb in the shape of a gun – he should have killed Mr. Granbois and his 15-year-old accomplice when he had the chance, he said. He knew he had screwed up. The police would have had nothing on him: Not a hair found at the scene, no saliva, no murder weapon.

Daniel said his heart had been pounding when he looked at the detective's computer, but he quickly calmed down. Anxiety was pointless. He knew he was finished.

“That's the life of a gangster,” he said.

2008: The great escape

After four months of digging, it was Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008, when Daniel announced the time had come. Mr. Buffalocalf went quickly to gather blankets and sheets from other inmates. They removed the heater cover and smashed through the remaining bricks with a shower rod. The hole was open for the unit's 17 inmates, nine of them accused of murder. Despite a tip from a police informant that Daniel and company were going out “like in the movies,” none of the 76 corrections officers who moved through the unit detected anything.

“It was a good moment. It was one of those Titanic moments,” Mr. Buffalocalf says, smiling.

Daniel went first. He crawled through the hole and emerged on a narrow ledge three metres above the exercise yard. He shuffled over to an adjacent wall and clambered up, draping blankets over the coils of razor wire to protect himself before jumping to the ground below.

Mr. Buffalocalf went next. He remembers the adrenalin surging through him. He could barely breathe. He hauled himself to the top of the wall, then balked at the six-metre drop. Daniel waved at him from the ground.

“He just told me to jump,” Mr. Buffalocalf says. “Luckily, I didn't get hurt.”

There were still two fences to climb and perimeter guards to avoid. They didn't wait for the four inmates who followed them, but just started running. Mr. Buffalocalf had jogged in the exercise yard and done push-ups for a month to get in shape for this. After five minutes, he was wishing he had trained harder.

Daniel was way ahead of him, running across farm fields on the outskirts of Regina. It was dark, but the ground was flat for miles around and they were worried they would be spotted. They alternated walking and running for about eight kilometres, following the railway tracks and ending up in the city's east end. They hung around back alleys, drank water from a garden hose and racked their brains for a place to stay.

They found a ride to Brandon, Man., within a few hours and spent a fretful, paranoid night in a garage. By morning, Daniel had become the RCMP's top priority.

2008: Outlaw on the run

Daniel considered trying to kill the witnesses who could convict him, but decided against it, Mr. Buffalocalf says. Instead, they made their way to Winnipeg. They were so exhausted by the escape that they rested for a week before doing anything. Their first public outing was to a house party.

“The best part? The girls, man, the girls. There were lots. Coming and going,” Mr. Buffalocalf says. Women were enthralled by Daniel's outlaw aura.

But there were few places to hide. Police in several provinces were squeezing anyone associated with the Indian Posse. They never stayed anywhere for more than two nights. Mr. Buffalocalf eventually made up his mind to head for Saskatchewan. He thought he could survive in the bush. But the police caught up to him first, surrounding the apartment building in Winnipeg where he was staying.

It was over. He called Daniel to say goodbye. Daniel was on his cellphone, watching the standoff from a block away.

“I told him I loved him. I told him to hide, to get out of town,” Mr. Buffalocalf remembers. Daniel continued to elude police for a third week. Tales of possible sightings and futile police raids made him something of a folk hero. His lawyer, Estes Fonkalsrud, listened to the media coverage, wondering whether his client would ever be seen again.

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