What occurred to Alan Wayne Hurley?

What occurred to Alan Wayne Hurley?


A part of a unbroken weekly collection on Alaska historical past by native historian David Reamer. Have a query about Anchorage or Alaska historical past or an thought for a future article? Go to the shape on the backside of this story.

On April 24, 1975, repeat offender Alan Wayne Hurley was convicted of felony theft, a $16,000 marine diesel engine. Whereas awaiting sentencing, he was a visitor on the State Correctional Middle minimal safety midway home on Third Avenue in Anchorage. Solely 28 years outdated, he already had expertise with jail and no want to return for a potential 10-year stint. Three days later, the one guard on responsibility was handing out dinner when Hurley hit him with a steel tray and walked out the door. For the following 9 years, he led regulation enforcement on a wild chase that concerned shootouts and a literal snakepit. A well-known Alaska story in its time, many Alaskans have requested me, “What occurred to Alan Wayne Hurley?”

Alan Wayne Hurley was born in Petersburg on Sept. 19, 1946. When he was solely 11 months outdated, his household relocated to Anchorage, the place he grew up. From a distance, he appeared to have been the very mannequin of a diligent, clever, self-reliant, and even well-mannered youngster. Most Prone to Succeed awards have been created due to children like him.

After all he was an honor pupil, for no true crime antagonist is full with out an honor pupil background. He was additionally a champion newspaper service. When 12 years outdated, he gained a jewellery set as an “excellent junior salesman” for the Anchorage Day by day Information. By age 13, he had switched allegiances to the Anchorage Day by day Instances with a route that included 111 houses. With each paycheck, he purchased a toy for every of his 4 siblings. He was additionally chargeable for his personal garments and invested in U.S. Financial savings Bonds. Many Anchorage mother and father probably advised their offspring that they “ought to be extra like that Alan Hurley.”

He graduated from West Anchorage Excessive in 1964, then attended the College of Alaska in Fairbanks on scholarship. That fall, he was the “excellent freshman competitor in ROTC drill competitors.” That spring, he was gone properly earlier than the college 12 months had completed.

The respect pupil had by no means truly been excellent. Scrapes with the regulation throughout highschool included joyriding and driving on a suspended license, however the actual transition from fresh-faced child with a future to bearded felon on the run occurred in Fairbanks. Nonetheless simply 18 years outdated, he was busted for test forging and sentenced to a few years in jail. He served round half that, together with six lengthy months on the Lompoc Penitentiary in California. His sister, Patty, mentioned, “They skilled him actual good down there. At that age, down there in jail, they taught him lots of issues.”

Shortly after returning to Alaska, Hurley joined the Brothers motorbike membership, which was concerned in every little thing from safety rackets to ivory smuggling. Given a few of his public feedback, he could have been current when a gaggle of Brothers barged right into a 1972 Canned Warmth live performance at West Excessive, an incident that led to a brawl with police. KFQD radio information director Jack O’Quinn acquired two demise threats after the station lined the confrontation.

By then, regulation enforcement had focused Hurley as an individual of curiosity in a number of crimes, lastly catching him on the marine engine theft due to taped conversations with a federal witness. “We have been actually happy to convict him,” mentioned U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace prosecutor Sam Pestinger. “He graduated from The Brothers motorbike gang right here about 4 years in the past and took the hard-core component with him. Since then, he has been suspected of main the group, which makes its residing by ripoffs and different unlawful actions.”

The U.S. Marshals had requested Hurley not be positioned in any jail as they thought of him a risk to different inmates. Seemingly unbeknownst to the marshals, there was just one guard on responsibility on the minimal safety midway home, which had an open-door coverage. The power was in any other case used to deal with prisoners convicted of misdemeanor offenses as they transitioned again into the neighborhood. Within the instant wake of the escape, everybody concerned acknowledged the apparent mistake.

The escape was on a Sunday. By Monday morning, each regulation enforcement workplace within the state was on excessive alert. U.S. Marshal Bob Olson famous, “Everybody from the airport safety officers on up by the town and state police, our workplace, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation” was on the lookout for the fugitive. Nevertheless, he didn’t anticipate a fast restoration. “Hurley has so many pals in Southcentral Alaska that it’s apparent somebody is hiding him … So, it’ll be in all probability a while earlier than we are able to find him.”

Hurley’s sister Patty acknowledged, “I don’t assume he’s harmful, however he is likely to be harmful to (regulation enforcement) in the event that they push him too far. In the event that they shoot at him, he’s going to shoot again, little question about it. He’d in all probability simply as quickly take a few of them with him if he goes.” She concluded, “Alan gained’t hand over. He’ll die within the woods earlier than strolling again into these police weapons.” U.S. Marshal Olson agreed, “Once we discover him, no one expects him to return out quietly together with his palms up.”

Weeks handed with out clues or leads. Lastly, on Might 21, 1975, two males recognized Hurley as a part of an armed group stopping vehicles on the McCarthy Highway. State troopers recognized a cabin about 10 miles east of Chitina as their main goal, and the following day, 10 troopers raided the placement. Hurley, although, was absent. By probability, troopers in a helicopter borrowed from the Alyeska Pipeline Co. noticed the fugitive, who fired at them earlier than disappearing into the woods.

From there, he vanished. Maybe he stayed within the Chitina area, surviving off his sturdy woodsman expertise. Maybe he headed to the border and crossed into Canada. Maybe he couch-surfed, touring from pal to pal, only a shadow in society. He almost definitely frolicked doing all the above, by no means staying too lengthy in anybody place. Just a few years handed with none verified sightings.

FBI particular agent Charles Dulinski inherited the chilly case when he moved to Anchorage after the jail escape. He acknowledged, “If they’re considered about their look, keep out of bother, are cautious to not get picked up for rushing, it’s not all that tough to flee detection.” Between escape and Chitina, Hurley had notably shaved off his most notable function, an unruly beard.

Hurley’s success towards regulation enforcement appealed to the anti-authority streak prevalent inside settlers. So, he turned a minor Alaska folks hero. Sympathy for a devilish underdog was hardly a brand new idea. “Hurley is alive and properly close to Chitina” bumper stickers popped up round Anchorage. Longtime pal Leslie Langla declared, “Alan’s huge downside is his mind. He’s good.” An nameless Anchorage police officer advised the Day by day Information in 1975, “People hero? He’s a thug.”

In the meantime, the witness who testified towards Hurley, Harold Wakefield, was pressured to maneuver out of state and even lived in Costa Rica for some time. Members of the Brothers harassed him and his household. Regulation enforcement officers knowledgeable him that Hurley had employed knowledgeable hitman. In 1985, Sen. Frank Murkowski argued in Congress that Wakefield deserved compensation for his losses because of “compelling bravery and patriotism within the face of adverse circumstances.”

In 1981, Hurley was named one in every of Alaska’s 10 most needed criminals. The U.S. Marshals additionally named him one in every of their prime 15 most needed fugitives nationwide. Nonetheless, he didn’t escape all discover. There have been alleged sightings all alongside the West Coast, from California to Alaska. There have been additionally shootouts with police in Oregon and California. Every time, he managed to flee again into the wilderness.

FBI particular agent Tony Lodge was a member of the Hurley manhunt. In 1984, he advised the Day by day Information, “He’s an especially powerful character. He pumps lots of iron and smokes lots of grass. He lived within the woods for therefore lengthy it was like chasing an animal. However Hurley’s a imply man. With most of those guys, it’s a Mr. Macho Man factor. They harm individuals.”

On this approach, Lodge was a part of a staff of FBI brokers that when tracked Hurley all the way down to a distant cabin close to Eugene, Oregon. Mentioned Lodge, “He was holed up in a canyon throughout the river. We needed to wade that river at quarter to 5 within the morning. It was chilly. Simply earlier than we obtained to the place his camp was, there was this snake pit within the path.” Round 15-20 venomous snakes writhed on the backside. “Hell, they wouldn’t have needed to chew you,” added Lodge. “In case you stepped in there, you’d have had a coronary.”

Hurley was on the run for 9 lengthy years earlier than all of it ended with a whimper. On Aug. 17, 1984, marshals and native sheriff deputies, appearing on a tip, visited Lake Whatcom close to Bellingham, Washington, north of Seattle and about 20 miles from the Canadian border. Hurley was prepping a floatplane for takeoff when the marshals arrived and surrendered with out incident.

At Hurley’s Bellingham dwelling, the marshals found a classy marijuana farm that featured automated watering and lighting in a crawlspace constructed beneath the single-story construction. They seized about 200 marijuana crops, $3,000 in money, about $9,000 in 2023 cash, and a number of weapons. These unlawful develop operations, established wherever he moved, supplied the money he wanted to reside off the grid.

In court docket, Hurley broke down and wept. He advised the decide, “I’ve had sufficient. I resign my previous. I could make it. And I promise you you’ll don’t have any extra issues from me. You’ve my phrase on that.” For the unique felony theft conviction and the escape, he was sentenced to 2 concurrently served five-year phrases in jail.

And what occurred to Alan Wayne Hurley? Per Social Safety data, he modified his final title to Lyons in 1990. The timing suggests he initiated the method quickly after ending his stint in jail. By 1994, he was residing in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, the “Gateway to the North Cascades” and a becoming dwelling for the outdoorsman. On July 18, 1994, he took off in a float-equipped Cessna Skyhawk close to Patos Island, one of many San Juan Islands northwest of Seattle. Proper after liftoff, he tried for a slender hole between some timber however clipped a wing. The aircraft cartwheeled alongside the shore and fell into the water, submerging the cabin. Hurley/Lyons, who coincidentally didn’t have a seaplane score, died within the crash.

Key sources:

“9-Yr Fugitive Sentenced for Possession, Escape.” Anchorage Instances, November 27, 1984, B-2.

Billington, Linda. “Brothers, Cops Conflict—Who’s to Blame?” Anchorage Day by day Information, Might 26, 1972, 2.

“Escapee Hunted in Wrangells.” Anchorage Day by day Information, Might 23, 1975, 2.

“Lawmen Proceed Hunt for Hurley.” Anchorage Day by day Instances, April 29, 1975, 2.

“Official Believes Pals Hiding Escaped Convict.” Anchorage Day by day Instances, April 30, 1975, 3.

Parker, Barbara. “Hurley Is Mentioned ‘Too Good.’” Anchorage Day by day Instances, Might 24, 1975, 1, 2.

Parker, Barbara. “Officers Ponder Jail Escape Downside.” Anchorage Day by day Instances, Might 2, 1975, 3.

“Pilot Killed in Crash Recognized.” Seattle Instances, July 19, 1994, B2.

Ramseur, David. “Invoice Would Assist Man Who Set Up Fugitive for FBI.” Anchorage Instances, Might 16, 1985, C-1.

Shuler, Judy. “Hurley Shadow Eludes FBI.” Anchorage Instances, February 22, 1976, C-6.

Swift, Earl. “Marshals Seize ‘Most-Needed’ Alaskan Convict.” Anchorage Instances, August 19, 1984, A-1, A-14.

Toomey, Sheila. “Alaska’s Most Needed Man.” Anchorage Day by day Information, Might 6, 1984, A1, A12.

Weaver, Howard. “Hurley—Complicated Fugitive.” Anchorage Day by day Information, June 5, 1975, 2.

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