Mississippi Plane Thief Found Dead in Cell

Cory Wayne Patterson, 29, was in federal prison awaiting trial
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2022 10:20 AM CDT
Updated Nov 16, 2022 4:58 PM CST
Plane Thief Who Threatened Walmart Has No License: Police
A stolen airplane rests in a field of soybeans after landing near Ripley, Miss.   (AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)
UPDATE Nov 16, 2022 4:58 PM CST

An airport worker who flew a stolen twin-engine plane erratically over north Mississippi for hours and threatened to crash into a Walmart store has died in federal prison while awaiting trial, authorities said Wednesday. The US Bureau of Prisons said in a statement that Cory Wayne Patterson, 29, was found unresponsive Monday at a federal prison in Miami and emergency responders could not revive him, the AP reports. He was arrested on federal charges on Sept. 14 and was moved to the Miami prison last Thursday. Federal court records include a handwritten note from Patterson that an FBI agent testified he had found in the plane. Patterson wrote that he was sick of living, according to court records. "I picked Walmart because it would be quick and easy to evacuate. I am not interested in hurting anyone,” the note said.

Sep 4, 2022 10:20 AM CDT

The man police say stole a plane, then threatened to crash it into a Mississippi Walmart, has no license and had to be given quick instruction in the air by a private pilot. Cory Wayne Patterson, 29, has been arrested and charged with grand larceny and making terroristic threats, said Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka. Patterson works at the Tupelo airport refueling planes, Quaka said, and has undergone some flight instruction but had no experience landing a plane before Saturday, CBS News reports.

He stole a Beechcraft King Air C90A from the airport just after 5am Saturday, a time when no one staffs the air traffic control tower, police said. Patterson then called 911 to say he planned to crash into the store. Negotiators established contact, he said, and talked Patterson out of crashing into the Walmart. But the plane circled the region for more than five hours, according to a flight tracking service. Around 9:30am, with fuel running low, Patterson posted on Facebook, ending the message with "Goodbye," Quaka said. A private pilot provided instruction, but Patterson aborted his landing attempt at the airport. He later told the negotiators he had landed in a field, per NBC News.

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There were no injuries and only slight damage to the plane, police said, but the episode raised alarm. The Walmart was evacuated, and Tupelo's major streets were closed. Thousands of people were driving to major college football games on either side of Tupelo that morning. A funeral director said he received calls from worried families. "One called and said, 'Oh, my God, do we need to cancel Mother's funeral?'" Steve Holland said. "I just told them, 'No, life's going to go on.'" (More Mississippi stories.)

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