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Investigators speak about film based on Arizona crime spree

Investigators speak about film based on Arizona crime spree

Bill Richardson, a retired Arizona law officer, was part of the elite, multi-agency task force formed by then-Gov. Bruce Babbitt to catch the killers.

He recalls the public sentiment during the days following the escape.

“They were scared to death and the fear was statewide. The fear was unbelievable,” said Richardson.

Richardson remembers the public paralysis in Arizona during the summer of 1978. Convicted killers Gary Tison and Randy Greenawalt busted out of prison in Florence with the help of Tison's three sons who had smuggled in guns.

The days that followed took the gang on a multi-state killing spree, leaving six people dead, including a Marine in Yuma, his wife, young son and niece.

The violent saga will soon be up on the big screen, called "Last Rampage."

"I expect it to be a good movie," Richardson said.

Retired Coconino County Lt. Tom Brawley, who headed up the investigation, talked to us via Skype about the case.

"It was the largest manhunt in the history of Arizona. Almost every officer in the state of Arizona was involved in this manhunt in one way or another," said Brawley.

The Tison gang killing spree came to an end 11 days after the escape, in a shootout with officers south of Casa Grande. Tison's oldest son was killed, his other two boys and Greenawalt were arrested, and Gary Tison took off running. His body was found in the desert more than a week later.

"It was political, completely. This was all about finding the killers," Richardson said.

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