At the age of 19, Animal was sent to the notoriously violent Old Montana Prison in Deer Lodge after he stole the state governor’s car. Sidebottom secured release in 1968 and moved down to New Mexico to establish himself in criminal activity on the border, using contacts that he had made in prison. His Mexican cohorts soon gave him a new nickname – El Diablo. But it was also in this southern state that he met and married a local waitress, Wanda. Despite his checkered past, and his new illicit career, the couple started a family.
However, their happiness was not to last. Soon, Sidebottom was back behind bars, and separated from Wanda. Apparently he converted to Christianity while in prison, and upon his release began an extensive preaching tour with a second wife. His new zeal took him all over the states, Mexico and Canada.
Settling in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it looked like Sidebottom was finally ready to accept a conventional lifestyle. But suddenly one day in 1980 all that changed. Sidebottom walked away from normality, taking his life in a terrifying direction that would consume him for the next three decades.