Try pressing unlock several times. Sometimes a bad actuator still has a tiny bit of life left in it.
Otherwise, I have no idea how to get the door open. I did this before on a Caravan, but it had an access hole on the interior panel that allowed me to open the latch with a screwdriver. I'm pretty sure my Escape doesn't have this.
Maybe a locksmith can help out, they sometimes know how to open without messing up the outside of the vehicle...
Otherwise I would recommend calling the Ford house and talking to a service advisor and see if he can point you in the right direction over the phone.
Try this, according to Haynes: After removing the 4 screws along the bottom, use a screwdriver to pry out the clips around the edges and remove the trim panel from the liftgate. Then carefully peel back the plastic watershield.
Downside is I think you need to have the tailgate open...and to get the tailgate open you have to cut the rear panel to access the latch mechanism. :wacko: :wacko: :wacko: :wacko:
You will get to replace the inside panel plus the latch mechanism! What a deal!