Blast From the Past

Here are the chilling and embarrassing details from Connie Thompson's life that she didn't want state officials to know

Rather than assist police in arresting a fugitive who had fired three bullets into an unarmed man, Lutz went underground with a man wanted for first-degree murder.

Early on December 17, Gary Russell, 29, had been driving his BMW automobile eastbound on Speedway Drive in Tucson when he got into an argument with Terry, who was riding a Harley Davidson.

Russell and Big Al pulled into a convenience store parking lot, and a fight ensued. Russell got back into his car and ended up running over Big Al's motorcycle. The BMW was snagged on the bike and couldn't move.

Connie Thompson emphasizes that the charges against her were dropped.
Connie Thompson emphasizes that the charges against her were dropped.

Big Al grabbed a handgun from a woman who had been riding with him and fired a shot into the hood of the car. He then fired three more shots into Russell, who was sitting behind the steering wheel.

Eyewitnesses said Big Al walked away after the first two shots, but heard Russell moaning, returned to the driver's side of the car, and fired a third shot into the paramedic, who died a few minutes later at Tucson Medical Center.

Terry and the woman fled the scene on foot. Within hours, Big Al was on the road to Pinetop, where he was given shelter by Lutz and her boyfriend. Over the next several days, the gang was joined by Al's girlfriend and the man who owned the motorcycle Terry was riding.

Lutz knew that Big Al had committed a terrible crime, but she did nothing to help authorities until November 1983 -- nearly two years after the murder -- when a Tucson detective picked her up in Phoenix on a felony warrant out of California for obtaining a fake ID.

"His hair was kind of weirdly cut and he had, you know, a halfway-done shave," Lutz told police in November 1983 about Big Al Terry's appearance when he first arrived in Pinetop.

"And he was just shaking and all upset," Lutz said.

"I knew something pretty bad was going on . . . by that night. I'd figured out what was going on because they were flashing it on the news that, ah, you know . . . a paramedic had been shot."

Lutz told police that after a few days everyone was getting nervous.

"You figure the police are going to follow them up there, so you know, it's not a good idea to stick around. So we left."

A cop asked Lutz whose idea it was to take off.

"I think it was everyone's 'cause Al wanted to get out of there."

So the group split into two vehicles and headed to a house in San Bernardino, California.

"We stayed there with them for about week," Lutz said.

She returned to Arizona to spend Christmas with her parents in Phoenix. Then, Lutz went back up to Pinetop, where she partied the holiday season away with her boyfriend and his biker buddies.

There was little discussion about Big Al and the shooting. "It wasn't a very, you know, jolly topic at the time," Lutz said.

Especially not for the family, including an 8-year-old child, of the dead paramedic.

"We are in absolute agony over the . . . unnecessary killing of our . . . beloved son," his mother and father wrote to authorities.

While the Russell family mourned, Lutz and her brethren became increasingly concerned about who was going to take care of Big Al.

"You know, what more can anyone have done?" she told police. "They've done what they could, you know, and . . . they all really just wanted him to get gone."

But Lutz wasn't done assisting Terry.

Rather than calling police and turning him in, Lutz went back to California and visited Big Al in Ridgecrest in January 1982.

On January 24, 1982, Pima County issued felony warrants for the arrest of Lutz and her boyfriend for harboring and assisting Al Terry. In April 1982, the couple was spotted by police in Phoenix after Lutz went to a doctor's appointment. Police followed them with the hope they would hook up with Big Al.

The surveillance, which included a Department of Public Safety airplane, continued for four days as the couple drove across the desert to California. They were arrested on April 22, 1982, near a Riverside County trailer park after police gave up on any rendezvous with the murderer.

Lutz was booked into the Riverside County Jail and, after waiving extradition, was transferred to the Pima County Jail on May 19, 1982. During her booking, she reported she was on unsupervised probation for a previous offense. She was released after her father posted $5,500 bail.

Pima County dropped the charges against Lutz in August 1982 for undisclosed reasons.

But 15 months later, in November 1983, Phoenix and Tucson police picked up Lutz in Phoenix on a felony warrant out of California related to obtaining the fake IDs.

Lutz, Lewis, Big Al and the motorcycle owner had obtained fake driver's licenses for $250 apiece from a contact inside the California Division of Motor Vehicles when they had first fled to California. Lutz's fake ID had the name Dana Mae Barrett.

Nearly two years after the murder, and faced with the felony warrant, Lutz was cooperative with police. Information she provided helped authorities uncover the fake name used by the owner of the motorcycle. In return, California shelved the charges against Lutz.

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