Richard Rodriguez was convicted of the execution-style murder of a man on April 16, 1972. The victim was scheduled to be a witness in a trial when he was killed. When Rodriguez was arrested, he was in possession of numerous weapons. He was sentenced to life in prison and was incarcerated in the California Department of Corrections, Deuel Vocational Institute, in Tracy, California. Rodriguez escaped on December 30, 1978, by cutting through the prison bars with hacksaw blades obtained from the machine shop at the institution. He then lowered himself to the ground with a rope made from bed sheets and climbed through a double fence between guard towers during dense nighttime fog. A federal arrest warrant for Rodriguez was issued on January 10, 1979, in Sacramento, California, after he was charged with unlawful flight to avoid confinement.
Rodriguez has a history of being involved with the Black Panther Party, and may have acted as a liaison between this party and local militant groups in the Los Angeles, California area. He may also have been involved with the Puerto Rican independence movement.
Rodriguez is known to enjoy horseback riding and camping, and is reportedly an archery (bow and arrow) expert.