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Twenty-four—“I’ll see y’all soon.”

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF

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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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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Thirteen—“We will assassinate everyone!”

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Thirteen

“We will assassinate everyone!”

—Fred Carrasco, hostage-taker

With their intelligence-gathering system in place, the

Command Post returned to the task of formulating a plan for entering the library with an attack team, if necessary. No thought, scheme, nor concept, was rejected out of hand, no matter how far out of the box it might seem to be. Some ideas had what TDC

Director Estelle called a “Buck Rogers” quality about them.1 Under even the best-case scenarios, they knew an assault would no doubt be a blood bath. The aim was to hit hard, hit fast, with as much firepower as they could muster, and with the element of surprise.

It would have to be a massive, shocking blow, stunning the gunmen and traumatizing them before they could get off any rounds aimed at their captives.

Everyone in the Command Post knew there was no way they could hit hard enough and fast enough to save all the hostages. It was just a matter of reducing the losses, of lowering the body count. How many hostage lives could they afford to lose in order to save how many others? How many body bags would they need?

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Nineteen—“I could have grabbed his gun.”

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Chapter Nineteen

“I could have grabbed his gun.”

—Father O’Brien, hostage

Once again, Carrasco demanded to talk to Estelle. “Yes or No. Are you going to send me the bulletproof vests?”1

Firmly, Estelle answered, “No. There will be no body armor. You’ve got all the firepower you need to get safe passage out in that yard and keep those hostages safe, as you have up to this point.” The hostage-taker shot back, “So, then you are saying you are not going to cooperate no more?” In a quiet, calm voice, the director replied, “We’re perfectly willing to cooperate. In fact, we want to cooperate to a greater degree than we have.” Easing up slightly, Carrasco asked, “In what sense?” Estelle replied, “In the sense that we will guarantee you safe passage from that building and full protection with not only your attorney but the public media to witness it.” Carrasco could not resist the sarcasm. “To witness what? My execution?”2

Incredibly, in the midst of all the violence,

Montemayor and Carrasco began discussing an autobiographical book telling the convicted

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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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