July 6, 1959: Monroe prisoners take hostages in breakout attempt

On July 6, 1959, four inmates at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe marched into a visiting room with butcher knives taken from the kitchen and held 38 inmates, visitors and guards hostage.

Their demands? “A car and freedom.”

Police rescued hostages the next morning. It had been more than 13 hours.

Later that day, The Herald published this story:

Thirteen and a half hours of terror for 38 men, women and children held hostage by four knife-wielding reformatory inmates came to an end early today as officers charged through a tear gas barrage to subdue the “kill crazy” rebels.

The guards’ surprise attack came at 4:08 a.m., just two hours ahead of the final deadline set by the four inmates in their bid for freedom.

The rescue battle was brief. Then the released hostages – faces tear-streaked and clothes reeking of tear gas fumes – were led downstairs from the reformatory visiting room which had been their prison for 13 ½ long hours.

Held at knife-point through those danger-fraught hours were 24 civilians – including one 5-month-old baby and half a dozen children – all relatives of reformatory inmates. Also held were 11 inmates being visited and three reformatory guards.

The four rebellious inmates, armed with butcher knives taken from the reformatory kitchen had overpowered one guard and marched into the institution’s second floor visiting room shortly after 2:30 p.m. Monday.

They demanded a car and freedom.

Read more from the June 7, 1959, edition of The Herald in our collection of historic front pages.

More in Local News

Police seek well-traveled pickpockets after thefts here

Images and video have been released after thefts in Everett, Lynnwood and elsewhere in the metro area.

4 years later, grieving Oso families remember the mudslide

The ceremony was held near a cedar grove of 43 trees which represent the 43 people killed in 2014.

Retired Naval officer Doug Roulstone to run for state Senate

The Republican will challenge incumbent Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, in the 44th District.

Families announce plans for an Oso mudslide memorial

Visitors from throughout the world visit the site of the 2014 slide, which killed 43 people.

Police seek man after stabbing and robbery south of Everett

A convenience store clerk was slashed by a knife-wielding man at 8 a.m. Thursday morning.

Bill aims to curb the filing of campaign finance complaints

It would give the Public Disclosure Commission greater discretion in resolving violations.

Suspect identified in break-in and shooting

He fired one round into a television and more shots when an occupant tried to confront him outside.

Video: The life of Helen Jackson

The wife of a prominent senator, she was also a tireless contributor to civic life and philanthropic causes.

Demolition begins, signaling start of courthouse remodel

The date for major construction was pushed back, but completion is still projected for 2021.

Most Read