He Escaped Prison in 1978. Then the Blood Began to Spill

Inside the story of Gary Tison and the Tison Gang
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2017 12:00 PM CDT

Last Rampage, starring Robert Patrick and Heather Graham, had its limited release on Friday, and as the trailer promises, "blood will spill." It's based on the true story of Gary Tison (played by Patrick), who in 1978 broke out of the Arizona State Prison with the help of his three sons and went on a murderous rampage during his quest to allegedly reach Mexico. As Richard Ruelas writes in a lengthy piece on the escape for the Arizona Republic, the movie "will undoubtedly take some dramatic license, as all films based on true events do. But with the Tison Gang, it becomes necessary." That's because questions persist even now, though Ruelas tries to fill in the holes, outlining Tison's crimes for which he was serving life, his seemingly model prison behavior, and his two prior prison escape attempts.

His third and final attempt took place on July 31, 1978, when sons Donald, Ricky, and Raymond—20, 19, and 18, respectively—arrived at the prison with a sawed-off shotgun concealed in a Salem cigarettes box. The four Tisons fled, along with inmate Randy Greenawalt. Authorities began a hunt for the green Ford LTD they took off in—except the group had quickly switched that one for a black Lincoln Continental. While on a remote stretch of Arizona 95, the car suffered its second flat, stranding the men. That is, until a US Marine, his wife, 22-month-old son, and niece stopped to offer a hand. The men took their car—and their lives. They'd kill again, this time a pair of newlyweds in Colorado, before being caught "purely by happenstance" on Aug. 11. Gary Tison escaped again, but he wouldn't be alive much longer. Read the full story here. (Read more Longform stories.)

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