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Twenty-two—“I demand that an armored truck be waiting.”

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Twenty-two

August 1, 1974 • Day Nine

“I demand that an armored truck be waiting.”

—Fred Carrasco, hostage-taker

In eight days, newly-installed President Gerald R.

Ford would say, “The long nightmare is over.” That may have been true for many of the people of the

United States of America following the resignation of

President Richard M. Nixon. But for the ten civilian hostages in the library at the Walls Unit of the State

Prison at Huntsville, Texas, their long nightmare was far from over.

Construction of the rickety shield—that would supposedly protect them on their way out of the library, down the winding ramp, and to the armored truck that would transport them and their three captors to a destination that could only be guessed at—proceeded unabated. The rhythm grew even more frenetic as the participants, numbed by a lack of sleep from their all-night endeavors and goaded by their self-imposed prospects of freedom, abandoned their fears and hammered away at the Trojan Taco.

Carrasco, obviously pleased with the results of the previous day’s negotiation methodology, tried the ploy once more. He directed Novella Pollard to have

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

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF

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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Seventeen—“I’m going out of here, whether it’s alive or dead.”

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Seventeen

July 28, 1974 • Day Five

“I’m going out of here, whether it’s alive or dead.”

—Fred Carrasco, hostage-taker

On Sunday, July 28, 1974, the NBC-TV Sunday

Evening News broadcast with Floyd Kalber anchoring from New York City, the President Nixon impeachment story got prominent billing. Four of the first five items dealt with it. Kalber also introduced stories about peace talks between Greece and Turkey, fighting in Vietnam, a new sex manual being released in the USSR, the Eleventh Annual Craftsbury

Common Old-time Fiddlers’ convention in Vermont, and how the “Texas state prison siege continues.” It was still national news.1

For those involved with the siege, the impeachment proceedings were not a major concern, and in fact received no discussion that day. Except for Ignacio Cuevas. Speaking like a self-imposed victim of social oppression, he talked about the presidency. “The only president worth anything,” he wailed, “was Kennedy and that’s why they killed him.

They kill the good people and the poor people.”2

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Eleven—“We have more time.”

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Eleven

“We have more time.”

—TDC Director, Jim Estelle, Jr.

That meal must have totally satiated Fred Carrasco and induced some sort of temporary amnesia.

Amazingly and inexplicably, there was neither further conversation nor demands for weapons nor threats of killing hostages for the rest of Thursday night. Carrasco did not call Estelle nor did he call

Montemayor. And there was no way those in the

Think Tank wanted to renew the day’s previous discussion. Though glad to still be alive, the hostages were, to say the least, confused. The TDC director could not explain it to the media. He would only say,

“We have more time.” Prison spokesman Ron Taylor said there would be no more moves at all until 10:00 a.m. the next day, Friday. “We asked the inmates if they were agreeable to break off negotiations. They were, so we did,” Taylor said. He called the suspension of negotiations “a good sign” and added it had allowed prison officials to “buy time.”1 And time was the commodity Estelle and the Texas

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

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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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