This ‘Humans Of NY’ Story About A NC Fugitive Is The Best Thing On Instagram

If you noticed that your friends and coworkers were stalking Instagram even more rabidly than normal on Wednesday, it probably has something to do with the 11-part series Humans of New York posted about Bobby Love. The account, which is typically known for its one-off Instagram portraits of New Yorkers with long captions of them telling a story of their lives, did something f*cking genius today and told a story in 11 parts on their Instagram, via captions, throughout the day. If you’re into learning about crime and the justice system, or if you love a good love story, or both, then stop what you’re doing and read the whole series, and then send it to all your friends. If you’re not convinced, or you are skeptical of long Instagram captions, allow me to gently explain to you why you’re dead wrong about this.

The HONY series tells the story of Bobby Love and his wife Cheryl, a couple who met at the Baptist Medical Center. They were married for 40 years, had children, but the entire time, Bobby was hiding a dark past. And the story starts with the moment it all came crashing down.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

(1/11) “It was just a normal morning. Almost exactly five years ago. I was making tea in the kitchen. Bobby was still in bed. And we get this knock on the door. I opened it up slowly, and saw the police standing there. At first I wasn’t worried. We had this crazy lady that lived next door, and the police were always checking up on her. So I assumed they had the wrong address. But the moment I opened the door, twelve officers came barging past me. Some of them had ‘FBI’ written on their jackets. They went straight back to the bedroom, and walked up to Bobby. I heard them ask: ‘What’s your name?’ And he said, ‘Bobby Love.’ Then they said, ‘No. What’s your real name?’ And I heard him say something real low. And they responded: ‘You’ve had a long run.’ That’s when I tried to get into the room. But the officer kept saying: ‘Get back, get back. You don’t know who this man is.’ Then they started putting him in handcuffs. It didn’t make any sense. I’d been married to Bobby for forty years. He didn’t even have a criminal record. At this point I’m crying, and I screamed: ‘Bobby, what’s going on?’ Did you kill somebody?’ And he tells me: ‘This goes way back, Cheryl. Back before I met you. Way back to North Carolina.’”

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

Bobby Love, who was born Walter Miller, then discusses his upbringing and how he ended up in the situation he found himself in.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

(2/11) “Back in the day my name was Walter Miller. It was a pretty normal childhood. We grew up poor, but nothing really dramatic happened until I went to a Sam Cooke concert at the age of fourteen. I was excited to be at that concert, so I pushed my way to the front row—right near the stage. The crowd was really moving, because it was dance music. And Sam Cooke didn’t like that. He kept telling people to sit down. And after only two songs, he got so angry that he walked off the stage. So I screamed at the top of my lungs: ‘Sam Cooke ain’t shit!’ And in North Carolina, back in 1964, that was enough to get me arrested for disorderly conduct. Things went downhill pretty quick after that. My mother was raising eight kids on her own, so she couldn’t control me. I got into all sorts of trouble. I lifted purses from unlocked cars. I was stealing government checks out of mailboxes. I got bolder and bolder, until one day I got busted stealing from the band room at school. They shipped me off to a juvenile detention center called Morrison Training School. I hated everything about that place. The food was terrible. The kids were violent. I still have scars from all the times I got beat up. Every night, while I was falling asleep, I could hear the whistle of a freight train in the distance. And I always wanted to know where that train was going. So one night, when the guard turned his back to check the clock, I ran out the back door– toward the sound of that whistle. And that was the first place I ever escaped from.”

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on


After escaping from the juvenile detention center, Walter ended up in D.C., but his old habits quickly caught up with him, and he ended up back in prison—this time, he was sentenced for 25 years to life. At first, he was placed in a maximum security facility that was pretty easygoing (as far as prisons go, I suppose). He even got transferred down to minimum security, which had far more freedoms, due to good behavior. But eventually, his conditions worsened and he knew he had to escape again.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

(5/11) “Everything changed for me when someone screamed ‘punk ass’ at the prison captain. He was walking through the parking lot. It was early in the morning, and it was still dark, so he couldn’t see who did it. I was working in the kitchen, so there was no way it could be me. But the captain said that he recognized my voice—and he wrote me up. After that he started picking on me. I tried to keep my head low. But the more I tried to do good, the more I got punished. He wrote me up for all kinds of phony things. He accused me of stealing a newspaper. He accused me of faking sick. The negative reports kept piling up, until I was one mark away from being sent back up the hill. And that’s when they started putting me on the road. It was the worst job in the prison. They’d call your name before sunrise, and you had to get on this bus. Then they’d drive you all over Raleigh to clean trash off the highways. It was awful. People would be throwing hamburgers and milkshakes at you. And it was almost winter, so it was starting to get cold. That’s when I started planning and plotting. I saved up my money. I memorized the bus route. I noticed that we always stopped at a certain intersection—right next to a wooded area. And I figured I could make that distance in no time at all. I also noticed that the guard who worked on Tuesday never searched the prisoners as they boarded the bus. So one Monday night, while we were watching the Colts game on TV, I made the decision. That was going to be my last night in prison.”

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

What happened next is truly impressive. Ted Bundy couldn’t pull off an escape this good.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

(6/11) “I cleaned out my locker before I went to sleep. I wanted to leave nothing behind. No phone numbers. No addresses. Nothing they could use to find me quick. Because I worked at the radio station, I was allowed a single pair of civilian clothes. I put those on beneath my prison garments and wore everything to bed. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. Every three hours the guards did a head count, and I kept seeing that flashlight shine on the wall. When the sun finally came up, I jumped out of bed and splashed water on my face. Then I glanced out the window. The careless guard was stationed at the gate. The one who never patted down the prisoners. So I said: ‘That’s it, I’m leaving.’ I got on the bus and went to the very back row, right next to the emergency exit. It was a five minute drive to the wooded area. As we slowed down for a stop, I swung open the back door– and I was gone. I could hear the alarm blaring behind me, but I didn’t look back. I peeled off my green clothes and just kept running. The sweat was coming off me. I looked like trouble, so I did my best to keep out of the white neighborhoods. Every time I passed a brother, I asked for directions to the Greyhound station. Everyone kept telling me: ‘Keep going, keep going, keep going.’ When I finally got there, I found a brother in the parking lot who agreed to buy me a one way ticket to New York. I waited until the last minute. I jumped on the bus right as the driver was closing the door. Then I slunk down in my seat while we drove out of Raleigh. Once we got on the highway, the girl next to me started making small talk. She asked me my name. I thought for a moment, and said: ‘Bobby Love.’ And that was the death of Walter Miller.”

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

This is officially better than any Orange is the New Black episode.

Bobby then describes how he started over a whole new life from scratch, with only $100 to his name. With a whole lot of savvy and some luck, he managed to get a Social Security Card (I barely know what to do with my SSN, so seriously impressed over here), and from there he got a birth certificate and driver’s license. He landed a job working at the cafeteria in the Baptist Medical Center, which is where he met Cheryl, who would become his wife.

But what I love about this story is that we get both sides, Bobby’s and Cheryl’s. Because while Bobby was likely spending his years looking over his shoulder, waiting to see if his past would catch up with him, things were not all sunshine and rainbows for Cheryl, either. Because Cheryl always felt like something was missing, even though she didn’t know what it was. She felt a lot of distance, and that almost caused her to reach a breaking point in her marriage.

And then the truth came out.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

(10/11) “My world came crashing down. Bobby’s arrest was all over the papers. It seemed like the whole city was laughing at me. People at church would pull me aside, and whisper: ‘You knew about this right? You had to know.’ But I never knew. Forty years of marriage, four grown children, and I never knew. How could I be so stupid? I wanted to hide. I wanted to disappear. When I went to work that first day, everyone was gathered around the front desk. And they got real quiet when I walked in. But I told them: ‘Don’t just stand there. I need some love. Give me some hugs.’ Of course I was embarrassed, but I was more hurt than anything. Bobby had deceived me for all those years. There was no truth in our house. I’m walking past this man every single day. We laughing. We joking. And he’s not telling me anything? I was so angry. But I never hated him. I wanted to comfort him. I wanted to hold his hand. I told Bobby later, ‘That’s how I knew I loved you. Because even in the worst of it, I was thinking about you.’ When I first visited him in prison, he broke down crying. His head was in his hands, and he told me: ‘I know, you’re going to leave me.’ I told him: ‘No Bobby Love, I married you for better or for worse. And right now this is the worst.’”

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

I want to give Cheryl a million hugs, and also dollars, for her resilience. Like, guys out here in 2020 won’t even stay with you if you don’t want to cook them dinner every single night, and Cheryl stood by her man even after she knew he hid an entire previous identity and basically past life from her! We all need to take notes.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

(11/11) “I got to work. I wrote letters to the governor. I wrote letters to Obama. I gathered testimonials from everyone that Bobby ever knew: all the kids he used to coach, all the people at our church, all of our family members. I testified on his behalf. I didn’t know a thing about Walter Miller. But I told them all about Bobby Love. And the parole board took mercy. After a year in prison, they let him come home. The day after he was set free, I sat him down and asked: ‘What is it? Are we the Loves? Or are we the Millers?’ And he said: ‘We Love. We Love.’ So I had him change his name legally. And now we’re moving on. I still have my resentments. When we get in a fight, I’ll think: ‘This man better appreciate that I forgave him.’ But the thing is– I did forgive him. And when I made that decision, I had to accept all the territory that came with it. I can’t make him feel that debt every day of his life. Because that’s not the marriage I want to be in. The whole world knows now. We’ve got no secrets. But I think this whole mess was for the better of things: better for me, better for the kids, and better for Bobby. He doesn’t have to hide anymore. He can look at me when I’m speaking. Not only that, he’s hearing me too. My voice is heard. I used to walk on eggshells. I used to just go along. But I told him one thing. I said: ‘Bobby, I’ll take you back. But I’m not taking a backseat to you no more.’ Because I got my own story to tell. I can write a book too. I might not have escaped from prison, and started a whole new life, and hid it from my family. But I forgave the man who did.”

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

Personally, I feel like if you escape from prison and are able to outsmart the system for longer than you were in the system, they should be like, “ok you got us, we’ll call it a wash.” But I guess that’s why I don’t actually work in the justice system and I just bullsh*t about it on a podcast. Or maybe I should run for judge…

I only included a few selections of Bobby and Cheryl’s unbelievable story, but I highly, highly recommend you head over to the Humans of New York Instagram page and read the entire thing. I’m really not doing it justice here. This story is seriously incredible. I mean, it has everything: multiple escapes from incarceration. A second life. A love story. This is officially the only thing I care about.

I can’t wait for the bidding war that is bound to ensue over the rights to Bobby and Cheryl’s story. I’m hoping they each write a book, and then those books get individual series on Netflix and Hulu, and they live happily ever after. But until that happens, read the whole story in all its incredible 11 parts on Humans of New York, and then cancel all your plans so you can talk about it with everyone you know.

Images: Humans Of New York / Instagram (7)