The Texas 7 was a group
of prisoners who escaped from the John Connally Unit near Kenedy,
Texas on December 13, 2000. They were apprehended January 21-23,
2001 as a direct result of the television show America's Most
The group was composed of the following Texas
Joseph C. Garcia
Randy Ethan Halprin
Larry James Harper (deceased by suicide)
Donald Keith Newbury
Patrick Henry Murphy, Jr.
George Rivas (Ringleader)
Michael Anthony Rodriguez (executed in 2008)
2000, the seven carried out an elaborate scheme and escaped
from the John B. Connally Unit, a maximum-security state prison
near the South Texas city of Kenedy.
At the time of the breakout, the reported
ringleader of the Texas Seven, 30-year-old George Rivas, was
serving 18 consecutive 15-to-life sentences. Michael Anthony
Rodriguez, 38, was serving a 99-to-life term, while Larry James
Harper, 37, Joseph Garcia and Patrick Henry Murphy, Jr., 39, were
all serving 50 year sentences. Donald Keith Newbury, the member
with the longest rap sheet of the group, was serving a 99-year
sentence, and the youngest member, Randy Halprin, 23, was serving
a 30-year sentence for injury to a child.
Using several well-planned ploys, the seven
convicts overpowered and restrained nine civilian maintenance
supervisors, four correctional officers and three uninvolved
inmates at approximately 11:20 a.m. The escape occurred during the
slowest period of the day when there would be less surveillance of
certain locations like the maintenance area — during lunch and at
count time. Most of these plans involved one of the offenders
calling someone over, while another hit the unsuspecting person on
the head from behind. Once the victim was subdued, the offenders
would remove some of his clothing, tie him up, gag him and place
him in an electrical room behind a locked door.
The attackers stole clothing, credit cards, and
identification from their victims. The group also impersonated
prison officers on the phone and created false stories to ward off
suspicion from authorities.
After that, three of the group made their way
to the back gate of the prison, some disguised in stolen civilian
clothing. They pretended to be there to install video monitors.
One guard at the gatehouse was subdued, and the trio raided the
guard tower and stole numerous weapons. Meanwhile, the four
offenders who stayed behind made calls to the prison tower guards
to distract them. They then stole a prison maintenance pick-up
truck, which they drove to the back gate of the prison, picked up
their cohorts, and drove away from the prison.
The white prison truck was found in the parking
lot of the Wal-Mart in Kenedy, Texas. The Texas 7 first went into
San Antonio right after breaking out of the complex. Realizing
that they were running out of funds, they robbed a Radio Shack in
Pearland, Texas the next day on
at around 2 AM. In order to bypass the otherwise-competent store
security, they entered an adjacent computer software store,
wherein they proceeded to knock down the flimsy sheetrock wall to
the other side. Once inside and undetected, they tethered the
Radio Shack safe to their truck, and literally dragged the large
safe outside of the building, causing damage to the parking lot
four of the members checked into an Econo Lodge motel in Farmers
Branch, Texas (under assumed names), where they decided to rob an
Oshman's Sporting Goods in nearby Irving, Texas. On
2000, they held up the store and stole 44 guns. A customer
standing outside of the store noticed the commotion inside and
called police. Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins responded to
the call, arrived on the scene and was almost immediately ambushed;
his autopsy would show that he had sustained eleven gunshots and
his body had been run over by the fleeing gang.
After Hawkins' murder, a $100,000 reward was
offered to whoever could snare the group of criminals. The reward
would climb to $500,000 before the group was apprehended.
A friend of Wade Holder, the owner of the
Coachlight Motel and R.V. Park in Woodland Park, Colorado,
happened to watch the television program America's Most Wanted on
2001 and told Wade that they were staying in his RV Park.
He believed that the Texas 7, who were being compared to Angel
Maturino Resendiz, were in his trailer park. When he confirmed
this, he reported the suspicious activities to local authorities
the next day on
The El Paso County Sheriff's Department SWAT
team found Garcia, Rodriguez, and Rivas in a Jeep Cherokee in the
RV Park. Authorities moved in and captured them at a nearby gas
station. They then found Halprin and Harper in an RV; Halprin
surrendered peacefully, but Harper was found dead after a standoff;
he had shot himself in the chest and left temple with a pistol.
The surviving four members were taken into police custody.
they received information on the whereabouts of the last two. They
were hiding out in a Holiday Inn in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A
deal brokered between the two, Newbury and Murphy, allowed them to
make live TV appearances before they were arrested.
In the early hours of
January 24, a
local KKTV television anchorman, Eric Singer, was taken into the
hotel where on camera he interviewed the two by telephone. Both of
them harshly denounced the criminal justice system in Texas, with
Newbury adding "the system is as corrupt as we are."
Authorities later found out that a woman named
Patsy Gomez conspired with a man named Raul Rodriguez, the father
of Michael Rodriguez, to help the Texas 7.
George Rivas was sentenced to death after being
extradited to Texas. Since then, the other five surviving members
of the Texas 7 have also been put on death row alongside Rivas.
While the other surviving members of the Texas
7 are awaiting final resolution of their appeals, Rodriguez
announced that he wished to forgo any further appeal (beyond the
appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, mandatory in all
death-penalty cases). He underwent a court-ordered psychiatric
evaluation in January 2007, which concluded that he was mentally
competent to decide to forgo further appeals, and he was executed
on August 14, 2008, the first of the surviving members to be
The Texas 7