Smiling John (Part 2 by Smiling John)
“Smiling John” Eastlack escaped from prison and was featured on America’s Most Wanted. He was sentenced to death for the murders he describes. When it was discovered that he has fetal alcohol syndrome, his sentence was reduced to life in prison without parole.
Part 1 left off with Smiling John pursued by the police.
I abandoned my jeep to the west, and crossed half mile of desert. I came out at Indian Ridge, leaving a monster fire in my wake.
Following the canals north again, I came up to a house with a FOR SALE sign. I wanted to get inside and off the street to use the phone ASAP.
I was not sure if the police had a description of me from Fort Lowell Park that morning or from the country club thirty minutes ago, but I could not take a chance.
My simple class 6 felony with an 18-month maximum sentence for escape had now turned into arson, burglary and possession of a dangerous weapon, increasing my maximum sentence to 25 years to life.
My mindset was in survival mode. By 8:30am on Friday 09-01-89, all I cared about was staying one step ahead and getting to Fort Huachuca by 2:00pm to pick up some passports for Monica and myself.
My friend, Ben, at Fort Huachuca was a Warrant Officer Class Two in the U.S. Army, doing some work with the 11th Signal Brigade in Sierra Vista.
He owed me from a 1972 Ford LTD in Texas in 1986. On leave we went to Dallas to see my wife Sherrie. Along the way, Ben killed a shoe salesman and stuffed him in the trunk of his 1972 Ford LTD then loaned me the car to take Sherrie out, never telling me there was a body in the trunk!
Well, Ben, the secret’s out, but his luck ran out in Operation Just Cause in December 1989 with the U.S. invasion of Panama. The army gave him a silver star for defending a bridge.
Seeing it was empty, I broke into the house with the FOR SALE sign. Looking around, I picked up about $3,500 cash from a safe, a Ruger Blackhawk single-action revolver and about $2,000 in jewelry. A watch, ring, and two necklaces.
Next I called Monica at Ventana Canyon and told her I'd got in a jam. To pick up the jeep, drop it off at her sisters, and meet me in San Carlos.
Catching my breath and turning on the TV at about 10:00am, I could see the special reports on the news about the chase. Escaped convict, armed and dangerous, burning down East Tucson.
They also used my mug shot from 1987. They darkened my features and bushed out my hair to make me look black and scare the mostly white upper classes of N.E. Tucson.
No wonder no one recognized me because I had a crew cut, was light skinned after spending 3 months in the hole in Central Unit under investigation for arson. And I was still dressed like a 16-year old surfer preppy frat boy, not a 25-year-old ex-army, ex-prisoner on escape.
I called Paul at Fort Bliss in El Paso to confirm, and Ben at Fort Huachuca, and told him I would be late. I still had to get a car or a cab.
When all of my phone calls were made, I felt like I could yet get out of the mess.
I pocketed the cash, put on the jewels and slid the .45 Ruger Blackhawk in the tote bag. The 9mm was still in my waistband.
With the search still in full swing according to the news, I needed just a bit more chaos to get to Tucson Country Club’s golf pro shop about a half mile west of my location. So I soaked the house in gas booze, put tin in the microwave, and a phone book in the oven at 450° then took off towards Tucson Country Club.
I was 5 minutes out the door when the house exploded, hitting some gas line, and within 7 minutes, cops, ambulances, helicopters and News Hawk 4 were all over the place so once again I had to get off the street.
I actually went to the nearest house, knocked on the door, and asked to use the phone to call a cab, saying I’d rolled my jeep in the wash.
She invited me into the house and led me into the kitchen to use the wall phone and handed me a phone book to call yellow cab to pick me up.
Within seconds I had the cab guy on the phone who would take me to Sierra Vista for $50, a set price – cool – now he wanted to know where to pick me up.
I turned around to ask the lady for the house address, and she was not there. I was alone!
I told the cab guy to, “Hang the fuck on. I don’t know where the hell I am!” Not very smart. I set the phone down on the counter top and started walking down the hallway saying, “Excuse me.”
I followed a noise to a closed sliding door, and pulled it open – smack!
A black blur flashed down towards the right side of my face. I threw my right forearm up and got slashed by a fireplace poker.
Holding the poker with two hands like an axe was a man! I grabbed the poker with my left hand and pulled my .9mm out with my right hand. I poked him into the hallway.
At the same time the lady tried to push past me into the hallway. Pushing her back into the room – a small TV room with 2 chairs, a bookcase, TV and fireplace – I hit her with the fireplace poker and she fell back into one of the chairs.
All I cared about was getting control of the situation. I had no idea why I was attacked or how many people were in the house.
The old man who attacked me with the fireplace poker was just standing there and threatening me to get out of their house before he called the police.
Yes, really! At this point a kind of out of body experience came over me and I decided right then and there I was going to have to kill them.
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Shaun P. Attwood