The ‘pistol-packing, jail-breaking expert’ Galveston couldn’t contain

A view down Broadway, sometime in the 1950s. (Photo courtesy of the Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas)

At about 10 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, 1952, two teens swaggered into Galli’s grocery store and tavern at 3228 M ½. Nicodemo Areanas San Miguel, 17, pulled a gun from the waistband […]

Murder for freedom: A daring 1938 escape from the Galveston County Jail

The Galveston County Jail, sometime in the 1950s. (Photo courtesy of the Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas)

At about 9 a.m. on Sunday, June 12, 1938, Galveston County Jail guard E.E. Goode climbed the stairs to the fourth floor “Iron House,” home to the jail’s federal prisoners. He unlocked the […]

A crime of passion and the ‘rape of justice’

Thomas Pittman (right) and his lawyer, L.J. Krueger. (Photo by Linda Westerlage/The Galveston Daily News)

Shirley Ann Lester was ready to celebrate one year of freedom from her husband, Thomas Michael Pittman III, when he called and asked to see her on Oct. 19, 1963. She agreed, even though she had no intention of […]

From stolen freedom to death row

Butch Ainsworth, Ronnie Roper, and Buster Harris hoped to get as far as Mexico, where they could enjoy the freedom they gained in their daring escape from the Galveston County jail on Nov. 21, 1969.

They made it as far as Flatonia, Texas.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 22, the fugitives stopped to […]

Fugitives escape Galveston County blockade, take more hostages

Deputies look at blood stains at Irene Alexander’s home in Dickinson (The Galveston Daily News)

Five escaped prisoners and their two hostages peeled out of the Galveston County jail parking lot shortly before 5 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 21, 1969, with George Earl Howard behind the wheel. Ringleader Butch Ainsworth, who was awaiting trial […]

Reign of terror: Five Galveston inmates terrorize county in 1969 jailbreak

At about 3:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 21, 1969, Deputy Tony Socias Jr. was making his rounds at the Galveston County jail. When he reached the third floor, he noticed water filling the hallway. He rushed to cell 3G, where the flood appeared to be seeping under the bars. In the middle of the cell, […]