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Six—“Put down your arms and surrender safely.”

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Chapter Six

“Put down your arms and surrender safely.”

—TDC Director, Jim Estelle, Jr.

Montemayor’s contact with Carrasco seemed to bring progress. Carrasco assured him that if the authorities did not “charge me, the hostages will be safe.”1 A hand-written message from Estelle was sent to the library. “You have not harmed anyone,” it read.

“Neither have we. We cannot dishonor the hostages by placing them in greater danger by delivering more weapons to you . . . we cannot do more than ask you to consider the feelings of your own family and the feelings of your hostages and their family. Put down your arms and surrender safely.”2

Carrasco was told if he freed his civilian prisoners along with Heard and gave himself up, his attorney would witness his safe surrender in front of the media to make sure “we do not hurt you, injure you, brutalize you . . .”3 What they were telling him was they would give him almost anything he wanted—except exit from the prison. The mercurial Carrasco flew into a rage and negotiations fell apart. By now, Father

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Twelve—“If you want to come, just come ahead.”

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Chapter Twelve

July 26, 1974 • Day Three

“If you want to come, just come ahead.”

—Rudy Dominguez, hostage-taker

The morning sun bolted out of the swamps of western Louisiana, its rays slid across the Sabine

River and spiked through the Piney Woods of East

Texas. Another scorcher was on its way. The sun’s rays climbed twenty feet to the top of the walls surrounding the red brick fortress in Huntsville and spilled over into the prison yard. With the morning temperature already approaching eighty degrees— the high for the day would near the triple digits, and its late evening thermometer would hover near ninety.

Negotiations began again at 10:00 a.m. Warden

Husbands told Carrasco he would be given everything he demanded—helmets, walkie-talkies, clothing—everything, except the bulletproof vests.

“The bullet-proof vests were something we would not want to give them,” FBI-man Bob Wiatt said. As for the helmets, “the hostiles were more concerned about somebody coming up behind them and shooting them in the head. We didn’t want to make them totally impregnable with bulletproof vests and helmets. It

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One—“Stop right there or I’ll kill you!”

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Chapter One

July 24, 1974 • Day One

“Stop right there or I’ll kill you!”

—Fred Carrasco, hostage-taker

Ronald (Ron) Wayne Robinson kept looking at his watch, anxious to get home for his daughter Sheryle’s eleventh birthday party that night. Aline V. House was kicking herself for forgetting to bring her bloodpressure medication to work. Bobby G. Heard kept looking through the doorway to see if his relief was on his way up to take his place as the only guard in the prison library. Ann Fleming was thinking about her eighty-year-old mother in a Nashville, Tennessee, nursing home. Novella M. Pollard was worried about getting her rent check in the mail on time. Elizabeth

Yvonne (Von) Beseda’s concern was the alteration of her daughter ’s University of Texas cheerleader uniform. All in all, it was just a routine day in

Huntsville, Texas.

That routine ended abruptly with the roar a .357 caliber Ruger Speed Six, blue Magnum revolver made as it was fired in the confined quarters of the thirdfloor library of the State Penitentiary in Huntsville,

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Seven—“He will kill those people.”

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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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Twenty-three—“If he’d only send out Linda Woodman.”

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Chapter Twenty-three

August 2, 1974 • Day Ten

“If he’d only send out Linda


—TDC Director, Jim Estelle, Jr.

During the preceding days of the siege, there were innumerable moments of panic for the hostages, but for Linda Woodman, the start of the tenth day was far more terrifying than anything she had been subjected to. And it had absolutely nothing to do with Fred

Carrasco, Rudy Dominguez nor Ignacio Cuevas. This panic attack was brought on by an act of God. On this

Friday morning the librarian was on guard duty at the broken door. It was about five o’clock, and she was speaking with inmate hostage Florencio Vera as

Ignacio Cuevas hovered nearby. Vera was, as usual, high on pain-killing drugs due to his recent surgery, and he asked Woodman to marry him when this was all over.

Stunned but not wanting to alienate another inmate, Woodman told him, “Oh, no. You’re too young.”

Vera was upset, saying her rejection was because he “was a Mexican.” He boasted about having thirty hours of college credit and asked, “If I went to college, would you like me better?”

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