‘Stocking Strangler’ slated for death

JACKSON, Ga. – Georgia serial killer, Carlton Michael Gary, who was convicted of raping and strangling three elderly women in Columbus, Ga., has been scheduled for execution.

Attorney General Chris Carr announced Friday afternoon that the 67-year-old death row inmate is slated to receive the state’s 49th lethal injection for the 1977 rapes and murders of Florence Scheible, Martha Thurmond and Kathleen Woodruff, on March 15 at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson at 7 p.m.

Gary, known as the infamous “Stocking Strangler,” has exhausted all his appeals.

>>>MORE | Southern ghosts: A serial killer's stranglehold on the past

On Feb. 23, the Superior Court of Muscogee County ordered the Department of Corrections to execute Gary, between March 15-22. Commissioner Gregory Dozier set the execution for March 15.

His execution will make him the first death row inmate in Georgia to die by execution in 2018.

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Carlton Gary

Timeline to death row

Gary was born on Sept. 24, 1950 in Columbus—growing up, he was on the other side of prison bars numerous times.

As a teenager he was arrested on more than one occasion for burglary. When he moved to New York to be a musician, he continued his crime spree, resulting in more criminal charges.

He was serving time in New York in August 1977 when he escaped prison—and headed back to Columbus.

Over the course of six months, between 1977-78, evil had a stranglehold on the affluent Wynnton neighborhood in Columbus, Ga.

Women, between the ages of 55-89, became the target of nine rapes and seven strangulation deaths—sparking fear and sense of terror in the prosperous suburb.

  • Sept. 11, 1977 | Gertrude Miller
  • Sept. 16, 1977 | Mary "Fern" Willis Jackson, 59
  • Sept. 16, 1977 | Jean Dimenstein, 71
  • Oct. 21, 1977 | Florence Sheible, 89
  • Oct. 25, 1977 | Martha Thurmond, 70
  • Dec. 28, 1977 | Kathleen Woodruff, 74
  • Feb. 11, 1978 | Ruth Schwob,
  • Feb. 12, 1978 | Mildred Borom, 78
  • April 20, 1978 | Janet Cofer, 61

According to the attorney general, an assailant sexually assaulted nine women, killing seven of them, leaving behind pantyhose around their necks. Dubbed as the "Stocking Strangler" he eluded capture for the next six years.

Known as the “Steakhouse Bandit” for several robberies in South Carolina, Gary was arrested in 1984, when a pistol that was stolen from a home in the Wynnton area in October 1977 was linked to him.

He was convicted and sentenced to death for three of the murders. No one was ever convicted in the other rapes or stranglings that occurred in the same timeframe.

>>>READ MORE | Could an innocent man be facing execution?

Pleading his innocence

On Dec. 14, 2017, Gary wrote 11Alive’s Jessica Noll a 12-page letter that counters the evidence pointing the finger at him.

In the letter, he highlighted fingerprints that police produced with no photographs showing where they were found—shoe prints that don’t fit him—and a bite mark on a victim that doesn’t match his teeth. He also challenged missing DNA evidence and eyewitnesses who came forward, placing him in the neighborhood during the murders.

“I was a model on TV…yet nobody identified me. Then years later, after arrest, after being plastered all over the media, liars popped up and said they saw me in the area of one crime scene.”

He claimed no latent fingerprints were ever developed.

Furthermore, he said, “Not one print was photographed ‘in situ’ (being lifted from a particular spot) to authenticate it, as was protocol.”

Gary argued that the footprints were collected sized “8 ½-10/11” and “I am still a size 13 ½-14.”

“Not one matched me,” he wrote defending himself.

According to him, he has attempted to get his hands on the evidence that convicted him, but to no avail.

“I have always requested any and all evidence, exculpatory and inculpatory. I have always sought funds for experts to assist testing and relevant investigative. The state opposed any and all assistance for me,” he wrote in the letter.

“Even after the GA Supreme Court ordered DNA testing, Slater and her henchmen opposed each request. WHY??!! Why would the devils so very boisterously claim they have the right man, so adamantly opposed such requests??”

“The swabs containing my DNA suddenly came up ‘missing’ from the sample envelopes.”

>>>READ: Carlton Gary Letter 11Alive's Jessica Noll | Dec. 14, 2017

In December 2009, the Georgia Supreme Court halted his execution, just three hours before his lethal injection, after tests showed that DNA found at the scene of one of the three murders he was convicted of, was not his.

In 2010, DNA tests excluded Gary from being the person who raped Thurmond, a 69-year-old retired teacher.

“The DNA absolutely, to a scientific certainty, excludes Mr. Gary as her rapist,” Jack Martin, his defense attorney said in an interview with 11Alive at that time.

A separate DNA test, did put Gary at the home of another woman who was raped and killed in Columbus in 1977, but he was never tried for that murder.

Gary was denied a new trial in September 2017, and again in January 2018.

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