Smiling John (Part 6 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 5 left off with Smiling John on the run in Texas, finding out he is about to be featured on America’s Most Wanted.
On 09-10-89 Sunday night at 6:00pm, I got a call from Paul at Fort Bliss. He told me my story was going to be featured nationwide at 7:00pm local time on America’s Most Wanted, and that I’d made number 7 on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. I was wanted for murders in two states. Sources had spotted me everywhere from Hawaii to Miami.
At that second, Patty showed up with Lucy and Lucy’s boyfriend, Mario. We were all going to see Pet Cemetery, the new Stephen King movie.
I played it cool, keeping track of the time, planning my next move. For the past 9 days I’d been fooling myself thinking I could live the dream again.
After the movie, Patty took Lucy home, and Mario and I went to meet Hilda – a University of Texas at El Paso sorority girl and cheerleader – at T.G.I. Friday's for drinks, then to a pool hall. Eventually Mario crashed out and Hilda had her way with me in the truck, on the truck and the truck bed.
After we dropped Mario off at 4:00am, I asked Hilda if she could take me into Mexico and even down to Hermosillo.
Hilda was wild. She had an evil streak and loved living on the edge. I’d only known her for 6 hours, yet she detected I was on the run and wanted to run with me.
On 09-11-89 at approximately 08:00 hours, Hilda and I crossed back into Mexico after stopping at the Embassy Suites to get my tote and kit bag, and her UTEP sorority house.
At 2:00pm, we reached the city of Hermosillo and checked into the Azteca Hotel for 2 days.
Hilda called Mario and found out that the FBI and FIST (Fugitive International Swat Team) had raided the Embassy Suites, Patty’s house, Bonny’s house and Mario’s house all at once on 09-11-89 at 10:45am, El Paso local time.
Everyone now knew who John Eastlack was, and America’s Most Wanted had really played up the murders by making them look like assassinations because the first two victims were Lester and Kathryn Sherrill – white, Mormon, millionaires, including a superior court judge from Pima Country in Tucson, Arizona.
I had no idea, not that it would have mattered one way or another.
Now that she knew it would make her an accessory after the fact, I convinced Hilda not to toss her life away.
Hilda wanted to know who I really was and why I was in prison, so I told her. An army brat, grew up in California, Minnesota and Arizona. My mother was a doctor and father an army colonel. Grew up playing soccer and swimming, joined the army out of high school. Got out and went to prison for fraud in 1987 and escaped 2 weeks ago. She knew the rest.
She started crying, took off her Virgin Mary necklace, put it around my neck, kissed me on the lips and wished me good luck and safety, then walked out the door.
I never heard from Hilda again except for a postcard when I got off death row in 1997.
As soon as Hilda walked out the door I packed, and went out the back window 5 minutes later.
I trusted Hilda but did not want her coming back. Unlike Patty, Hilda had everything, she was just searching for something else.
I knew I couldn't take care of myself to follow a simple plan. In high school, sports, the military, prison, I had a structured environment, so I did well, excelled even. But my marriage, and relationships were all disasters. On leave I would mess up, getting involved in scams, robberies, cons or even murders. So I was far from having my shit together. I just acted like it.
I took a cab to Hermosillo Airport and charted a Cessna to fly me to San Carlos on the coast.
Click here for Part 5.
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Shaun P. Attwood