Republic Reporter Details Life Of Gary Tison, Arizona's Notorious Prison Escapee

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 3:55pm
Updated: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 4:02pm

One of the most notorious prison escapees in Arizona’s history is Gary Tison. He escaped from the state prison in Florence in the summer of 1978, along with fellow murderer Randy Greenawalt and with the help of his three sons.

The escape unleashed 13 days of bloodshed and terror throughout the Southwest, and a new film, "Last Rampage," is documenting it all as we approach the 40th anniversary of the rampage next year.

So who was Gary Tison?

He was known in the Pinal County area as a sort of petty criminal. He had been in and out of jail for years, and he had just been sentenced for writing a bad check when his story took a turn.

He was being driven back to prison by a guard when he saw an opportunity to escape. He overpowered the guard and killed him. And now, he’s not being sentenced for embezzlement, but for murder.

Inside prison in Florence, Tison became known as a model inmate but he never stopped thinking about escaping, according to Richard Ruelas, who dug into this story for The Arizona Republic.

I spoke with Ruelas more about Tison, his attempts at escaping and how he got himself into the good graces of the warden running the prison — and in a good position to make a final escape.

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