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Lynda Williams displays a copy of the cover of her book “A Lost Childhood” on a computer screen Monday at her home in Casa Grande.

CASA GRANDE — Life hasn’t always been easy for Casa Grande resident Lynda Williams.

And with her new book, “A Lost Childhood,” she talks about the abuse she suffered as a child and growing up in a family known for criminal activity.

She hopes her story helps others overcome trauma and hardship.

“Writing this book is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s something I feel I had to do,” she said.

Williams grew up in Casa Grande and has lived in the area much of her life. But she said that while many people knew she was the daughter of R.C. Tison and the sister of Gary Tison, most didn’t realize the extent of the abuse and trauma she experienced at home as a child.

“I don’t talk much about my childhood,” she said. “Even people I’ve known all my life don’t know what my life was like.”

Books have been written and movies made about Gary Tison’s crime spree. When the latest movie, “The Last Rampage,” was released in 2017, Williams said she felt it was time to write a book.

“I decided it was time to tell my story, the story of what it was like for a young girl to grow up in such a dysfunctional, criminal environment,” she said.

Williams was in her 30s and a young mother when, in 1978, her brother Gary, who was serving a life sentence for killing a prison guard, enlisted his three sons to help him and fellow prisoner Randy Greenawalt break out of Arizona State Prison in Florence.

While on the run, the group killed several people, including a Yuma Marine and his family.

At the end of their 11-day escape, the group crashed through a sheriff’s roadblock south of Casa Grande on the Tohono O’odham Nation.

The oldest son, Donald Tison, was killed in a shootout with police. Greenawalt and two brothers, Rick and Raymond Tison, were apprehended. Gary Tison escaped into the desert and was found dead 11 days later.

“That was a devastating time for our family,” Williams said. “I told my kids that our relationship to Gary doesn’t make us guilty of his crimes.”

In her book, Williams tells about growing up in poverty in Casa Grande and in the shadow of her father and brothers’ criminal activity.

“Most of my young life was spent feeling as though I was in the deep end of a swimming pool, with a leg cramp and nobody to help me. I knew as a young girl, there was a way out, and I fought to get there,” she said. “My family and I suffered tremendous humiliation over the years due to my three brothers’ and father’s criminal activities.”

The cycle of abuse lingered into adulthood and led to an abusive first marriage, she said.

And although therapy, love and faith in God helped her overcome her past, some traumas from her childhood still haunt her in unusual ways.

She’s still claustrophobic, she said, a lingering result of being forced into a closet.

“My father and brothers robbed a store and when the police came to the house, my mother put us in a closet to hide us from the police,” she said.

“We were put into the closet many times. By the grace of God did I survive and become the person I am today.”

As an adult, Williams dedicated her life to helping abused children and others.

She became a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care and converted her ranch into a place for equine therapy.

“It was my strong desire to help others find their path and escape the suffering of abuse in their homes,” she said.

She also founded the nonprofit organization Pinal Council for CASA/Foster Inc., which raises money to support foster children and the people who advocate for them.

A recent conversation with “Last Rampage” author James Clarke made her realize there was still an interest in the family’s story and the Tison case.

“I started writing the book years ago when my late husband and I had a 40-foot ocean cruiser in the San Diego Harbor. The aft deck was a wonderful and peaceful place to write,” she said.

But writing the book was paused for several years while she stayed busy with her ranch and other activities.

A few years ago, she sold her ranch and moved to a home in the Mission Royale subdivision. When COVID-19 hit, she had the time to dedicate to finishing her book.

“I still had the beginnings of the book saved on a floppy disk,” she said.

She took about a year and a half to finish the book.

“I am thankful for the gift of love and determination that survived in my heart and my desire for the truth. My past made me the person I am today, and I hope my story helps others,” she said.

“A Lost Childhood” will be available on Amazon.com soon.

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