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

Suspect sought in two Everett bank robberies

He’s described as 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-1, with dark hair and a goatee, and may have a neck tattoo.

Jogger unharmed after fending off attacker in Edmonds

Police released video of a man they believe to be the attacker.

Two missing men found, one alive and one dead

The man found alive was found in an apartment across the hallway and taken to a hospital.

Darrington School Board dealing with upheavals

The crux of the controversy seems to be the superintendent’s job.

Alaska Airlines has selected destinations for new service from Paine Field. (Alaska Airlines)
Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Three teens arrested for Marysville school vandalism

Windows were broken and a trash bin was on fire Sunday night at a Marysville middle school.

Langley mayor threatens newspaper with lawsuit

The mayor threatened to sue the paper over claims he withheld public records disclosure information.

Divers called to recover body after train hits pedestrian

The accident was reported by a BNSF crew near Woods Creek in Monroe.

FILE - This Tuesday, May 30, 2017 file photo, former Washington Gov. John Spellman, second from left, leaves a memorial service in Renton, Wash. Spellman, the last Republican governor elected in Washington, has died at age 91. Spellman’s son, Seattle attorney David Spellman, confirmed his death Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren,File)
John Spellman was last GOP governor of Washingon

He had spent recent weeks “being very disappointed with the Cougs and the Huskies,” his son said.

Most Read