Due to overcrowding in the prisons in New Mexico in the 1970s, the department of corrections took some of the adults and put them at the New Mexico School of Boys in Springer, to act as mentors to the youth who were there. One of those inmates was John Burton, and in 1976 he escaped from the school and stole a car in an attempt to get away. He was pulled over quickly by a state trooper for speeding, although the trooper did not yet know he was an escaped convict. A struggle ensued and Burton was able to take away the officer’s gun, and take him prison, escaping to a local ranch to the west of town, where he held that family hostage as well. A standoff ensued, but Burton was able to escape on foot and made his way to another farm, where he hid out in the barn. When the owner of the ranch went out into the barn in the morning, he encountered Burton hold the officer’s .357 and together they walked into the house, where a young girl was sitting. That young girl was Beth Rose. Burton told her and her father that he wouldn’t hesitate to kill them rather than being caught and go back to prison.
Burton had them get into their truck, with Beth’s father driving, Beth in the middle and Burton sitting in the passenger seat with the gun pointed at them. Burton kept changing his mind about where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do with them. Beth says her father kept cool the entire time, trying to reason with Burton and giving him suggestions of where Burton could leave them so he could get away. He also tried to give Beth little glances and assurances that everything was going to be okay. They drove all over that day, until ending up in Albuquerque that evening, where Burton, for some reason, abruptly let them go, and ended up kidnapping a cab driver. Several days later Burton shot himself during a showdown with police near Melrose, New Mexico, but Burton survived and was taken into custody and then sentenced to time in a federal prison in Arizona.