Freelance photographer Carl Filoreto, of Golden, shoots footage Tuesday in the old jailhouse near the Moffat County Courthouse. Filoreto is in Craig on assignment for an upcoming Dateline NBC special. The special, tentatively titled “Heaven’s Rain,” recounts the story of two fugitives who were apprehended north of town in 1979.

Photo by Ben McCanna

Freelance photographer Carl Filoreto, of Golden, shoots footage Tuesday in the old jailhouse near the Moffat County Courthouse. Filoreto is in Craig on assignment for an upcoming Dateline NBC special. The special, tentatively titled “Heaven’s Rain,” recounts the story of two fugitives who were apprehended north of town in 1979.

Dateline NBC takes an interest in Craig for upcoming special

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Freelance photographer Carl Filoreto frames a shot within a holding cell where Steven Hatch and Glen Ake were held. The Dateline NBC special about the fugitives’ case could air early next year.

Adam Wald, an associate producer for Dateline NBC, is a long way from home.

“I do a lot of traveling in the states, following stories where we find them,” said Wald, who typically works at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

Wald said Dateline NBC has found a story in Craig, albeit one that took place more than 30 years ago.

At 10 a.m. Nov. 21, 1979, 10 Moffat County Sheriff’s Office deputies raided a ranch 30 miles north of Craig near the Wyoming border.

Holed up inside the ranch were two fugitives, Steven Hatch and Glen Ake, who were wanted for murders in Texas and Oklahoma.

The two were quickly apprehended.

Ake was sentenced to life in prison. Hatch was executed.

Wald said the story is newsworthy for two reasons.

“We just passed a 30-year anniversary of the killings,” he said. “Also, there is a feature film coming out about it called ‘Heaven’s Rain.’”

Wald is in Craig this week to research Craig Daily Press archives about the arrest of the fugitives, and to film locations for a future two-hour Dateline NBC special about Hatch and Ake’s murder spree, their arrest and the lasting impact on the survivors.

One of the survivors, Brooks Douglass, later became an Oklahoma state senator, Wald said.

He is also the screenwriter and an actor in the upcoming movie.

“We had a great story to tell that took us through Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming,” Wald said of the Dateline special. “On top of that, there’s this great senator who took something terrible in his life and turned it into something positive for himself, his family and families to come who may unfortunately have to deal with similar circumstances.”

At 16, Douglass and his family were victims of a home invasion perpetrated by Hatch and Ake. Douglass’ parents were shot and killed. Douglass and his sister, Leslie, were also shot, but survived.

“He, as a senator, got a lot of new laws on the books for victims’ rights,” Wald said.

Wald said the story is a good fit for Dateline NBC.

“At Dateline, we do a lot of true crime stories,” he said. “That’s our bread and butter. What people want to hear is not necessarily about the crime that was committed, but rather the relationships that happened between the killer and the victim, or between victims, or between killers.

“I think that’s what makes a great story.”

The story of Hatch and Ake’s arrest is also compelling, Wald said.

“The apprehension took place at a ranch owned by Mike Pondella,” Wald said. “The previous night, Hatch and Ake went into his home, pointed a shotgun at him to rob him and most likely kill him, because that was their track record.

“But, (Pondella) was able to buddy up to (Hatch and Ake) a little bit. They shared a few beers, and Hatch and Ake ended up passing out in the house.

“While (Hatch and Ake) were in a drunken stupor, (Pondella) bolted down to the sheriff’s office.”

Pondella was met by then-investigator Jeff Corriveau.

Corriveau, who is now retired, said he and deputies already knew Hatch and Ake were in the area.

“We had Mr. Pondella look at some mug shots, and sure enough it was Hatch and Ake,” Corriveau said.

Corriveau said he rounded up some men and drove to the ranch.

“Basically, our only option was to drive down the road leading into the place because it was out in the middle of nowhere,” he said.

Luckily, the fugitives attempted to flee, Corriveau said.

“They had no plan whatsoever,” Corriveau said of Hatch and Ake. “It still amazes me that they both ran from the house when they had every reason to stay there. They had food, they had firearms, they had ammunition.

“We all believed we were going into a gun battle, all the cops. To this day, I can tell you we are all still astounded.”

Corriveau met with Wald on Tuesday night to be interviewed for the story.

“Dateline being in Craig doesn’t mean a hill of beans to me,” Corriveau said.

However, Corriveau said Douglass deserves the recognition.

“I think it’s great that he has turned his life into a positive thing,” Corriveau said. “I think it’s great that he’s made the movie. It doesn’t make a darned bit of difference if Dateline is here, but it’s great for Brooks because they’re highlighting a tremendous survivor of a senseless crime.”

Wald said the story will air on NBC early next year.

“Airdates fluctuate, but it will be early next year, within January, February or March,” he said.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained an error. That error has been corrected.

Comments

xrsareus 3 years, 4 months ago

This article doesn't mention if Adam Wald interviewed Mike Pondella. If I remember correctly the two guy's shot and killed Mike's dog. If you don't know Mike, he is a unique person. Maybe the Daily Press could talk to him about his side of the events as a follow up.

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cmawest 3 years, 4 months ago

gosh i wonder if they will get tom cruise to play jeff corriveau in the movie ? as i recall it was jeff and bruce johnson who went out there (i could be wrong) losing jeff as a sheriff was a big loss for moffat county. jeff was hell on crime here in the county. too bad we lost him over crappy coverage by news media and a stupid sensless lawsuit. oh well, i hear they fired three grand jct. cops last year for cutting some tents down in a derelict hobo camp. thats what we do in america now. we get rid of our "very best", just to make our "very worse" happy. welcome to the new world order !

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spectre58 3 years, 4 months ago

Actually, I believe the sheriff at that time was not Jeff Corriveau but S.L. Valdez Jr. who was my father. He was elected Sheriff of Moffat County in 1978.

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cmawest 3 years, 4 months ago

sorry i didn't mean to imply jeff corriveau was the sheriff at that time, just the officer who went up their and bagged the two scumbags. jeff was "old school" and didn't just sit around and give directions, he got "personally involved" his arrest record was amazing, both as an officer and later on as sheriff.

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nightwatch 3 years, 4 months ago

JEFF WAS A GOOD OFFICER IN HIS TIME,BUT,,,,IF HE WOULD OF KEPT HIS FINGERS WERE THEY DIDNT BELONG,HE WOULD OF BEEN THERE ALOT LONGER

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ColoGeezer 3 years, 4 months ago

Corriveau was not "old school" and hell on the crooks. He was, at best, a "good old boy" who knew which baby's (and babes..) to kiss and who was average as far as being a cop. He had a lot of problems and lost the election because of what he and his officers did, not because of media coverage and a "senseless lawsuit". Now he is a "retired sheriff".....

I don't think so. He lost the election because he was not the right man and because of his own extremely bad decisions. Those decisions impacted the lives of not only his deputies but the lives of the citizens that he swore to protect.

You need to remember history, not rewrite it into what you want...

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Butch001 3 years, 3 months ago

I cannot believe all you badmouths out there that anonymously point some finger at Jeff Corriveau for something so long ago. Don't you all realize what pain and agony he personally suffered then for some poor decision. He long ago paid full measure for his actions. He did so much good for Moffat County it was amazing. Then you guys want to kick him in the teeth years later. You gotta get a life.

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Exres 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree with Butch. There's no point in rehashing the end of Jeff's successful tenure as Sheriff. It's human nature to forget the good somebody does, and to only remember the mistakes and errors in judgment. We've all made these, and he paid for his. Give it a rest.

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ColoGeezer 3 years, 3 months ago

Corriveau's saga was not "something so long ago" and maybe he suffered because he got caught but how's about the other people involved. Don't you think that maybe they suffered too? How's about his employees who got a black eye and reputations damaged. Don't you think they suffered too?

Corriveau did not have a "successful tenure" as sheriff. He was a sheriff who broke the rules and got caught, costing the citizens of Moffat a whole bunch of money and shame. I don't see that he did anything special for Moffat other than putting us in the national media spotlight for his actions. Yeah, it's in the past and we all make mistakes but I don't think that I (and others) will ever forget what happened.....

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suckleh0nny 2 years, 10 months ago

Weird I came across this watching it now on Dateline. Will be an incredible movie about two very couragous people.

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