The Daring Escape of the
Too Late to Turn Back
Minutes later, at 11:45 a.m., Alan Camber, another maintenance supervisor, and Alejandro Marroquin, a corrections officer, returned from lunch and sat down at their desks inside the maintenance office. As they began talking with each other, inmates Rivas, Halprin, Harper, Murphy, and Newbury walked into their office and began talking to them as a ruse to catch them off guard. As part of the group was speaking to Marroquin, Murphy and Garcia questioned Camber regarding a part they said they needed for a vacuum cleaner. After separately gaining the two men's attention, Rivas walked behind Marroquin and grabbed him in a bear hug while, simultaneously, Garcia attacked Camber from behind.
As Marroquin struggled to break free from Rivas's grip, Halprin, Harper, and Newbury helped Rivas force Marroquin to the floor. After removing his uniform and shoes, they quickly bound the officer's hands and legs with plastic ties and duct tape, and attempted to place a gag inside his mouth. When he refused to open his mouth, Newbury struck him in the nose with a closed fist to force his mouth open so that they could place the gag inside. After robbing him of his watch, keys, identification card, and $65 cash, they carried Marroquin to the electrical room and placed him on the floor next to Moczygemba.
Rivas, meanwhile, helped Garcia force Camber to the floor. Garcia placed a sharp-pointed object in Camber's left ear and threatened to shove it all the way in if Camber did not quit struggling. Fearing for his life, Camber did as he was told and allowed the prisoners to remove his black Wrangler jeans and his boots. After stealing his keys, a pocket-knife, and wallet containing his prison identification and $60 cash, they bound him just like they had done with the others and dragged him into the electrical room where they slammed his head against an electrical conduit on the wall, knocking him unconscious in the process. They placed a pillowcase over his head and wrapped duct tape around it in the area of his eyes.
By noon, Manuel Segura and Mark Burgess, having finished with their lunch, were on their way back to the maintenance department. Shortly after arriving back at their offices, Rivas entered and approached Burgess.
"Mr. Moczygemba is in the warehouse and needs to see you," Rivas said.
Having no reason to disbelieve him, Burgess followed Rivas to the warehouse but saw no sign of Moczygemba. As he was about to say something, Halprin, kneeling down by the motor beneath the table, called for Burgess to take a look at it.
"We need to know what to do with this motor," Halprin said.
As Burgess walked towards Halprin, one of the other inmates struck him in the back of the head with the axe handle. He fell to the floor and momentarily lost consciousness. As he began to come around, Burgess felt something sharp at the back of his neck, as well as at his back and below his right armpit.
"This is no joke," Rivas told him. "We go home, and you go home, or not. It's up to you."
Garcia placed what appeared to be a Plexiglas shank or homemade knife in Burgess's left ear and threatened to apply force if he didn't remain quiet and cooperate. Then, just like the others, Halprin proceeded to remove Burgess's clothing. He bound his feet and hands, placed a gag inside his mouth and duct tape over his eyes, and dragged him to the electrical room to join the others. Halprin also took Burgess's wallet, which contained his driver's license, Social Security card, and a credit card. Rivas used the same ruse by calling Segura into the warehouse, and he was likewise taken captive. Segura was visibly shaken and scared, fearing for his life.
"If you calm down and stay quiet," Rivas told Segura, "nothing will happen to you."
By 12:20 p.m. the seven prisoners had been working on carrying out their escape plans for an hour when Jerry McDowell, a recreational program specialist often referred to as "the coach," walked into the maintenance department and found Rivas, Halprin, and Murphy sitting in the office, alone and unsupervised.
"Why are you guys alone?" McDowell asked when he didn't see any of the usual supervisors present.
"Mr. Moczygemba went to 18 dorm," Rivas told him. "He'll be back in a few minutes."
McDowell apparently believed him, and asked to check out a toolbox. Murphy volunteered to go to the warehouse to get the toolbox and the checkout log. When he returned he handed both items to Halprin, who in turn passed them to McDowell. McDowell signed the log, wrote in the time, turned and walked out with the toolbox. Thinking that perhaps he should be added to their collection of captives, Rivas followed him out of the office and asked him to come back. But McDowell refused the request and continued out of the area.
Five minutes later, at 12:25 p.m., three additional maintenance supervisors returned from lunch. Mark Garza, Martin Gilley, and Ronny Haun were talking to each other when they walked into the maintenance department, each paying the convicts little or no mind. Gilley went into the electrical shop, Garza sat down at his desk in the office, and Haun walked into the warehouse. As with the others, the convicts took them captive one at a time.
"Mr. Haun, could you please take a look at this?" Newbury asked as he pointed toward a shelf in the warehouse.
As Haun walked toward the shelf in question, Newbury grabbed him and placed him in a headlock. Rivas moved in quickly and helped Newbury force him to the floor and attempted to place a gag inside his mouth. As Haun struggled, Rivas punched him twice in the nose. Haun cried out in pain, so Rivas shoved the gag inside his mouth. As Haun continued to struggle with his attackers, another inmate held a Plexiglas knife to the back of Haun's left ear. Haun settled down and allowed the prisoners to bind his arms and legs, after which he was carried to the electrical room.
While Haun was being subdued, convict Harper walked into Garza's office and asked him to come into the warehouse to take a look at the motor beneath the table and he, too, was taken captive. Simultaneously, Garcia walked into the electrical shop where Gilley was working.
"Would you like something to eat, Mr. Gilley?" Garcia asked.
"No, thanks," Gilley responded.
Garcia walked out of the shop like everything was okay. Moments later Murphy entered the electrical shop.
"Mr. Moczygemba wants to see you in the warehouse," Murphy said.
Gilley followed Murphy, and upon entering he warehouse he was attacked by Garcia, Halprin, Newbury, and Rodriguez.
"Don't resist and you won't be harmed," Halprin told Gilley. Gilley submitted and removed his clothes, was bound and taken to the electrical room with the others.
At 12:40 p.m., an hour and twenty minutes into the escape, another maintenance supervisor, Terry Schmidt, returned from lunch escorting two inmates, David Cook and Roger Fishwick, from the 18 dorm or cellblock to the maintenance department to have them complete a work detail. Rivas met them and, just like he had told all of the others, told Schmidt that Mr. Moczygemba needed to see him in the warehouse right away. Upon entering the warehouse, several of the escapees attacked Schmidt from behind.
While Schmidt was being subdued, Murphy went inside the maintenance office and began talking to inmates Cook and Fishwick.
"We're having a spread in the back," Murphy said. "Why don't you guys come on back and fix yourselves a plate?"
Fishwick declined the offer, but Cook immediately went to the back of the warehouse where Rivas met him and punched him in the face. Although dazed, Cook swung back at Rivas. Sensing that Rivas might need some help, one of the other inmates rushed over and struck Cook in the back of the head with the axe handle that they had been using. Murphy, meanwhile, went back to the maintenance office and forced Fishwick inside the warehouse where he, too, was struck in the back of the head with the axe handle. Cook and Fishwick were then bound like the others and taken to the electrical room.
Five minutes later, at 12:45 p.m., Randy Albert, a correctional officer, walked into the maintenance office to check out a hitch for his unit's utility vehicle, commonly referred to as a gator. Assigned to the trash crew that day, Albert needed the hitch and the gator to haul lumber. Albert was somewhat disturbed when he entered the maintenance office and saw only inmates present without any supervision. He knew that sometimes the supervisor would go to the warehouse and leave an inmate in the office area alone, a violation of the prison system's rules and regulations. He also knew that the rule was one that was often bent by many prison employees, and was not overly disturbed.
"Where is Mr. Moczygemba?" Albert asked.
"He's in the warehouse," Rivas told him.
When officer Albert entered the warehouse, he saw no sign of Moczygemba, only inmates. As he looked around he saw a handheld radio and a set of keys on the floor, and immediately sensed that something was very wrong. Before he could act, however, three of the inmates attacked him from behind and forced him to the floor. One of them placed a knife against his face, and warned him not to move. Albert grabbed the knife with his left hand and bent the blade, but was quickly struck alongside the head with an axe handle. While he was dazed, the inmates handcuffed him with his own handcuffs, bound his legs with rope and tape, and dragged him off to the electrical room.
"We cut off ears for souvenirs," Rodriguez told Albert, loudly enough that the others could hear, too. "And there's lots of ears in here!"
At 1:00 p.m., Lester Moczygemba, another maintenance supervisor with the same last name as one of his colleagues, returned to the maintenance department from the boiler room, accompanied by another inmate, Ambrosio Martinez, to dispose of a piece of metal. Upon entering the department he noticed that the prison's maintenance truck had been pulled into the shop area where the overhead door was closed and locked. He immediately thought it strange that the truck was parked there because vehicles were not normally allowed in that area unless there was a specific reason for the vehicle's use, such as going after supplies. As he was looking around the area, Newbury came up behind him brandishing a flat piece of metal, about 12 inches in length and sharpened on both ends.
"You'd better stop while you're ahead," he said to Newbury as he pushed Newbury's hand away. As Moczygemba turned toward Martinez, Newbury came up behind him and placed a handmade knife to his throat.
"I'm very serious," Newbury told him. "I don't want to hurt you, but I will if you don't lie down and cooperate."
Fearing for his life, Moczygemba complied and lay down on the floor. Newbury and Halprin then bound his hands and feet, placed a pillowcase over his head, and took him to the electrical room to join the others. As Moczygemba was being taken to the electrical room, Murphy attacked Martinez and stabbed him on his left ring finger with the homemade knife. Afterward, Rivas and Garcia bound Martinez's arms behind his back with duct tape and placed him with the others.
Satisfied that they had accounted for everyone who might cause them some problems, the seven escapees secured the electrical room door from the outside and set into motion the next phase of their daring escape plan.