Wednesday, May 12, 1993
Edition Metro Final
Section: Main News Sacramento Bee
Byline source: Stephen Magagnini, Nancy Vogel and Ramon Coronado, Bee Staff
Victor Frank Carrafa -- who escaped from a sheriff's deputy during an eye doctor's appointment at a midtown clinic Tuesday -- and his accomplice Gerald Joseph Gallant Jr. are both escape artists extraordinaire.
They apparently met at Folsom Prison in the mid - 1970's, where both were serving life sentences: Carrafa for the brutal 1966 beating and shotgun murder of a San Francisco bartender; Gallant for rape, robbery, and other crimes. Both are suspected of trying to break out of Folsom.
Both are believed to belong to the Aryan Brotherhood white supremacist prison gang. Gallant, deemed criminally insane, is believed by law enforcement authorities to be an assassin for the Aryan Brotherhood. And both are violent career criminals with links to the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Charles Manson family, two of the most notorious terrorist groups of the late 1960's and 1970's.
The 50-year-old Carrafa's record includes at least six escape attempts -- two of them successful -- dating back to 1960. He recently described himself to authorities as an unemployed auto mechanic.
"Old Vic -- he's good at that," said his former attorney, Michael Satris, when informed on Tuesday's brazen escape.
In 1970, Carrafa escaped from the east block of San Quentin, but was caught on prison grounds. He was moved to Folsom, where he was suspected of trying to tunnel his way out by burrowing under the prison library.
While in Folsom, Carrafa shared a cell with Symbionese Liberation Army founder Joseph Remiro. It was also in Folsom that Carrafa, a self-proclaimed "tough guy" received a letter from Joan Vibbard, a 15-year-old runaway from a foster home in Iowa. Vibbard managed to visit Carrafa five times before guards discovered that she was under age.
Despite the foreboding gray surroundings, the prison romance bloomed and the pair sought to be married, only to be denied when prison officials suspected Vibbard of smuggling a handgun and some marijuana to Folsom.
When Carrafa was paroled in 1978, Vibbard became his second wife and they had two children. Officials believed Vibbard to be an associate of Manson family member Catherine "Gypsy" Share, whose husband, Kenneth Como, was a cellmate of Carrafa and Remiro. The unsavory connection led to news accounts speculating about Manson family-SLA plans to stage a huge prison break from Folsom.
In 1979, months after his release, Carrafa was charged with bank robbery in Manteca using a wig and makeup. He later got a nose job to disguise his appearance, authorities said.
In 1980, police in Lexington, KY arrested him with 53 $100 bills, a .38 caliber snub-nosed revolver and a hand-made stamp with seal of the state of Iowa, which police believed he planned to use to forge birth certificates.
In early 1981, while being held in the Contra Costa County jail on a burglary charge, Carrafa hacked his way out with two other inmates. He was arrested 3,000 miles away in Hannibal, NY by the FBI, and returned to Contra Costa County, where he tried yet another escape using a rope fashioned from a bed sheet.
But the most dramatic escape was effected by Gallant, a robber and rapist who escaped from Atascadero State Hospital at gunpoint. Gallant and another escapee took four guards hostage, taunting them and stabbing one in the back, penetrating a lung.
Gallant and his partner broke into a farmhouse in Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo County, and took the occupants hostage.
Later, a man who identified himself as Gallant called Petaluma police and reportedly said he and his partner were at a Petaluma supermarket getting ready to steal a car. He told authorities, "You police better get off your backs or you might find the hostage we have lying on the highway somewhere".
Moments later, police received a phone call from a market where two men were reportedly breaking into a car. Five police cars converged on the parking lot but the suspects escaped on foot.
Gallant and his partner were captured a month later in Ohio driving a car stolen from Oregon.
In December 1974, when Gallant was 35 years old and serving two life terms for rape, robbery, and other charges, he and two other prisoners tried to escape from Folsom Prison.
His accomplices were Como, a reputed member of the Manson family, and Bobby Davis, who was convicted of killing four highway patrolmen in a Los Angeles shootout. The three men used contraband hacksaw blades to cut through the bars of their maximum-security cells, but their attempt was foiled when a guard noticed tiny sheet (metal) shavings outside one cell.
Carrafa, who grew up in Connecticut in a family of 10 children, told authorities that he came to California in 1966. Despite spending most of his adult life behind bars, he told authorities he had managed to attend Sacramento City College for a year.
By 1987, he and Vibbard had separated, and he was living in Crockett. William Glass, who represented Carrafa off and on since 1979, said his and the law enforcement's view of Carrafa differed. "I like the man -- he was liked by everyone in our office and everyone that he ever came in contact with." - Sacramento Bee.
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