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Twenty-one—“I’m the executioner.”

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Chapter Twenty-one

July 31, 1974 • Day Eight

“I’m the executioner.”

—Fred Carrasco, hostage-taker

Week One of the Eleven Days in Hell would end at one o’clock as this eighth day and second week of horror began for the hostages.

Federico Carrasco was contacted on Wednesday morning five minutes after his eight o’clock deadline for complying with the demand for bulletproof vests.

He was called about what Ruben Montemayor called the “final offer” that Director Estelle had handed him at seven-fifteen that morning.

According to Ron Taylor, Carrasco “appeared to be sleepy or groggy”1 and he made no mention of his previous threat to blow up his hostages. The only thing he seemed to be interested in was ordering breakfast—pastry, donuts, cupcakes, orange juice, prune juice, jelly, toast and, of course, the daily newspapers.

Contact between the library and the warden’s office resumed at nine o’clock. The hostages requested clean clothes, a deck of cards, a portable radio, batteries, trash bags, ice, a jar of instant tea, lemon, sugar, coffee creamer, and coffee cups. Taylor, based

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Twenty-four—“I’ll see y’all soon.”

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Chapter Twenty-four

August 3, 1974 • Day Eleven

“I’ll see y’all soon.”

—Judy Standley, hostage

Of the original fifteen civilian and inmate hostages, twelve remained on Saturday, the third day of August.

After Glennon Johnson’s departure following a medical emergency, Father Joseph O’Brien had become the only true volunteer hostage. Inmate hostage Henry Escamilla had broken through the glass doors on the sixth day of the siege and Aline House was next to leave, after her heart attack hoax. Linda

Woodman was now safe in her Conroe home. Still held by Carrasco, Cuevas, and Dominguez were Von

Beseda, Jack Branch, Bert Davis, Ann Fleming, Novella

Pollard, Ron Robinson, Judy Standley, prison guard

Bobby Heard, Father O’Brien, and inmate hostages

Martin Quiroz, Steve Robertson and Florencio Vera.

Before this brutal day would end for the twelve hostages and three killers, their numbers would be cut down radically.

In the library, all the civilians slept rather fitfully, drained by their physical and mental exhaustion, and when they were roused shortly after sunrise they had a breakfast of eggs, ham, toast, coffee, and

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Eight—“My God! They’ve shot Mr. Robinson.”

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Chapter Eight

“My God! They’ve shot

Mr. Robinson!”

—Novella Pollard, hostage

It was somewhere around seven o’clock on Thursday morning when Warden Husbands received the next telephone call from the library. “Some of the hostages,” he recalled, “said Carrasco was going to kill them if we didn’t meet his demands” of the night before for arms and ammunition. Carrasco had hostages lined up in chairs in front of the filing cabinet barricade.

Heard was still tied to a chair on top of the protective wall where the rattled guard would catch the first bullet were it to come from the inside or the outside. 1

Threatening the hostages with death, an edgy

Carrasco complained about noise coming from the second floor area below, saying TDC was trying to break in again. As it turned out, any noise—any noise at all—coming from outside the library’s confines made Carrasco and the others certain TDC was coming in. As Husbands had earlier explained, the cooks came to work at their usual 4:00 a.m. and began serving breakfast at 6:00 a.m. Carrasco ordered Linda

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Sixteen—“I have the four aces and the joker.”

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Sixteen

“I have the four aces and the joker!”

—Fred Carrasco, hostage-taker

Fred Carrasco’s two-day media scheme met with

Estelle’s approval, in spite of the many things the frantic and misguided hostages told the reporters, some highly critical of him and the Texas Department of Corrections. The director felt as long as Carrasco was using the hostages for his propaganda purposes, they would be relatively safe. He was not using them for target practice. Then Cuevas instilled another huge dose of terror into the hostages. Their fear was heightened tremendously and its byproduct was a highly elevated sense of urgency in the hostages’ voices when they subsequently talked with their families and the media.

It started when Cuevas was still incensed following his animated telephone conversation with

Juanita Hernandez, his second wife and mother of the last four of his nine children, who called him from the Sheriff’s office in Pecos, Texas. Steaming over that apparent argument, the former farm laborer stormed over to Novella Pollard and Bobby Heard who were manning the barricade in front of the door. Pointing

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Seven—“He will kill those people.”

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Seven

July 25, 1974 • Day Two

“He will kill those people.”

—Father O’Brien, hostage

Somewhere around one o’clock on Thursday morning,

Father O’Brien made his last trip to the prison library.

Fred Carrasco offered to let him sleep at home, “Or, if he wants to sleep here, it’s up to him.” 1 O’Brien returned to the third-floor complex, bringing more sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and minor medications such as aspirin and antacids. At least three times during the preceding twelve hours he had walked in and out, a courier of supplies and messages.

Each time he left, he promised the women he would come back. And each time he left, the wily Carrasco made the hostages move to another part of the library so the priest could not tell authorities exactly where they were. But the ever-suspicious Cuevas and

Dominguez were convinced that O’Brien was spying on them.

O’Brien was indeed giving the authorities as much information as he could. He told them more about

Bobby Heard, who was being constantly taunted by his captors with comments like, “Why don’t you run to the attic again, Heard?”2 He reported on the mirrors

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