Southern Arizona Online, a publication of the Tucson Citizen


Eastlack shared with anyone who would listen the gruesome details of the day he murded the Sherrills. He grinned throughout his trial, and when he was sentenced to die, Eastlack seemed to shrug off execution, saying it was better to "burn out than fade away."

Eastlack attended a number of schools, doing well in the classrooms with intense structure and falling apart in the classes that offered more choices.
"He just got lost," Norgard said. "It was like he couldn't navigate."
The stress involved in raising her troubled son was devastating to her marriage, Norgard said.
"You can't do right by the child, and you get into blaming each other," Norgard said. The couple divorced in 1975.
In junior high, Eastlack attended Tucson Christian School, where he did well. But when it was time for high school, Eastlack, who was athletic, desperately wanted to attend Rincon High so he could play football. It was a disaster.
"John couldn't manage it. He just got lost." He ended up getting his GED at the state's Department of Juvenile Corrections' Catalina Mountain School, when he was locked up for stealing.
After high school, Eastlack continued to commit crimes and continued to get caught. "John was not a good criminal," his mother says. "There was nothing I know of that John did that he didn't get caught for."
He also spun wild tales, creating new identities. He would tell people he was a secret agent from a faraway land, or that he was in the CIA.
At the time of the 1989 murders, Eastlack was on the run after escaping from the Arizona State Prison Complex-Tucson. He was serving a nine-year sentence for credit card fraud.
Norgard won't ever forget the moment she heard her son was suspected of murder.
"I was at Speedway and Swan in my car, and I heard it on the radio. They said escaped convict John Patrick Eastlack was charged in a double homicide. It was just preposterous to me. I couldn't believe it. But I also knew they couldn't report something on the radio that was a lie. I went into shock."
Eastlack, it turned out, was running through the desert on Tucson's East Side, looking for a car to steal. He knocked on the Sherrills' door and asked to use the telephone.
While inside the home, a news bulletin about his escape, including his photo, flashed on the television. Claiming that petite, frail Kathryn Sherrill came after him with a fireplace poker, Eastlack beat the couple to death and stole their car.