NBC’s ‘Dateline: Breakout’ chronicles a February 2006 case that captured the nation’s attention not because of the convicted killer who broke out of prison but because of the volunteer who aided him. Serving a life term for a deadly 1996 carjacking at Lansing Correctional Facility, Kansas, 27-year-old John Manard escaped with the help of Toby Dorr, then known as Toby Young, after a romance sparked between them. At the age of 48, she could have never imagined that love would change her world, but it did. So now, if you’re curious about where she is today, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Toby Dorr?
Toby Dorr, formerly Young, seemed to have a picture-perfect life. She had supportive parents, married her high school sweetheart, was dedicated to her work at Sprint – a telecom firm – and raised two children while earning a degree. However, in 2004, following a brief encounter with thyroid cancer, Toby realized that her marriage and personal life were crumbling apart and decided to establish Safe Harbor Prison Dog — a rehabilitative program that paired rescued canines with inmates for further adoption. Its instant success meant that Toby soon became a regular at all areas of Lansing prison.
In October 2005, though, after a prisoner threatened Toby, her contact in the warden’s officer reportedly assigned John Manard, one of the dog trainers in her program, to be her escort for a while. That’s when they got to understand each other and fell in love, leading to John suggesting that he escape and they start a new life. Within months, he formulated a plan and they put it into action on February 12, 2006. John hid in a dog carrier in Toby’s van, and she drove them away without being searched, only to be apprehended nearly two weeks later.
Where is Toby Dorr Now?
Toby Dorr and John Manard were caught in Tennessee following a chance encounter with deputies that lead to a high-speed chase and their vehicle crashing into a tree. The moment they were handcuffed was the very last time the pair were together as a couple. In the aftermath of this incident, Toby pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting an aggravated jailbreak, along with introducing contraband – a cell phone – into prison. She even agreed to pay roughly $7,500 in restitution and was ultimately condemned to 27 months in jail. Her husband also filed for divorce.
In a 2018 interview with The Kansas City Star, Toby stated, “At the time, I was so overwhelmed, so full of pressure that [the escape] sounded like a great idea, which was indicative of how broken I really was at that moment.” Then, talking about John, she added, “I was just desperate to be loved, to feel like somebody loved me. Maybe John was wearing his inmate hat and he was perceptive enough to notice a need in me and capitalized on it. But I do think that he cared for me. I do think that John Manard loved me to the best of his ability to love anybody at that time.”
With all that said, though, Toby has since worked on herself, moved into a positive direction, gotten married again (to Chris Dorr), and began another venture, where she helps other women escape their emotional traumas through a series of personal growth programs. In addition, she serves as a public motivational speaker and author, with her memoir ‘Unleashed’ to be released very soon. As per her Facebook, Toby completed the manuscript for this tale “of escape and redemption” in June 2019. She does not let her history define her, yet the Kansas native understands that her actions were wrong.
Read More: Where is Chris Dorr Now?