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

Families begin relocating from public housing complex

Baker Heights is in need of repairs deemed to costly to make, and will be demolished and replaced.

Trail work by juvenile offenders builds resumes, confidence

Kayak Point trails were built out this year by groups from Denney Juvenile Justice Center.

Small fire breaks out at haunted house in Everett

Plastic that was supposed to be noncombustable was sitting next to a hot lightbulb.

Rules of the road for ‘extra-fast pedestrians’ — skateboarders

State traffic law defines them as pedestrians, and yet they are often in the middle of the street.

Distress beacon leads rescuers to Pacific Crest Trail hikers

Two men in their 20s had encountered snow and waited two nights for a helicopter rescue.

City of Everett to give $400K to a nonprofit housing project

The city expects to enter a contract with HopeWorks, an affiliate of Housing Hope.

Everett mayoral campaign is one of the priciest ever

Many campaign donors are giving to both Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy.

Some damage undone: Thousands of heroin needles removed

Hand Up Project volunteers cleaned up a patch of woods that some of them had occupied near Everett.

Volunteers clean up homeless camp infested with garbage

The organization’s founder used to live and do drugs in the same woods.

Most Read