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Home  >  Topics  >  SWAT

February 13, 2004
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Prison Hostage Angry She Was in Standoff, Tried To Keep Her Wits

By Jacques Billeaud, The Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) -- A female prison guard who was held hostage for 15 days in a watch tower by two violent Arizona inmates was angry that she was the victim of a security breach but pulled herself together by praying and thinking of her daughter, according to records released Thursday.

Though she was sexually assaulted during the standoff west of Phoenix and began to lose faith, the guard tried to keep her wits, thought of ways to escape and did what she could to protect herself from the armed prisoners.

"I just want to get out to see my daughter," the guard told investigators after her Feb. 1 release. A transcript of her interview was obtained through a public records request.

The guard's identity was withheld by The Associated Press because she is a sexual abuse victim. She couldn't be reached for comment.

In her interview with investigators, she described the suffering she and another guard experienced after the tower was overtaken.

She also said the prisoners wanted to "take out" police officers. While she was frustrated with negotiations, she believed the situation could be resolved.

The two prisoners took the female guard and guard Jason Auch hostage Jan. 18 at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis in Buckeye. Auch was released eight days before the female guard.

Authorities are investigating the standoff and filed criminal charges Thursday against inmates Ricky Wassenaar and Steven Coy.

Coy is accused of sexual assaulting the female guard and a female worker who was in a prison kitchen where the inmates first overpowered an officer before going to the tower. Wassenaar was allowed into the three-story tower because he was wearing a uniform taken from a guard.

The female guard worried about authorities rushing the tower.

"It's gonna take days, but we can talk this out," she said. "I can come out of here alive."

She said she drew strength from her fellow guards wearing yellow ribbons -- encouragement that was needed.

She was physically attacked by an inmate, faced requests for sex from the inmates and had some days when she wasn't given food.

Both guards were physically assaulted and lost feeling in their hands because the cuffs on their hands were too tight. The prisoners also used them as shields to protect themselves in case authorities fired on them.

At one point, the female guard said Auch, bloody after a prisoner hit him in the head, looked as though he was going into shock.

While Coy ignored her pleas for him not to sexually assault her, she was able to decline Wassenaar's request for sex.

She questioned why Auch let Wassenaar into the tower without vocal or visual identification.

She seemed angry Auch was released before her, but she came to accept it. "Auch's a good guy. He's young. He's got his life ahead of him," she said. "And for some reason, God wanted me there."

She became resourceful by eavesdropping on the inmates, ingratiating herself by making jokes and trying to making herself sexually unattractive.

Though she didn't carry out her ideas on escaping, she thought about trying to get a gun from the inmates once they fell asleep. She wanted to free herself from her handcuffs.

But her desire to get out of the tower might have worked against her because, the night before Auch was released, they said she was trying to get away, she told investigators.

She grew desperate, at one time, even considering running out one of the tower's hatches. "So I get a couple of broken legs, no big deal," she said. "At least I'd be safe."

She wanted nothing to do with the exchange of gunfire that the prisoners wanted but never got.

Associated PressCopyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

"You know, I work here to put food on my daughter's table and a roof over our heads," she said.






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