Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Carlton Gary: The Columbus, Georgia Stocking Strangler


Carlton Gary in 1970
Carlton Gary in 1970
In Serial Killers, Norris quotes at length from Michaels/Gary's confession. It sounds as if John is the leader of this team, Gary the passive follower. "While walking down the hallway," Gary relates, "John put on his rubber gloves. He told me not to worry about my fingerprints as I had no record and they couldn't be traced. We came to this hotel room door. I notice that when John or Pop came to this door he had some kind of material jammed in the door lock. John went in first. I followed him. John turned to me and said, 'Check out the bathroom.' The bathroom was dark. ... I could see John in the other room and he was holding a flashlight and going through papers. ... I noticed the bed was all messed up. I heard some people coming down the hall. I got scared. Now after the sounds stopped I seen John with his flashlight go over toward a door and I seen John direct the flashlight to this door at the bottom of which was a low, big trunk. John asked me to help him move this trunk. When the flashlight that john was holding shined on the trunk I noticed the head of a human being up against this trunk. The head of this human being was stretched out on the floor. ... I could tell this was the body of a woman, a white woman. I seen John reach down and grab this human head by the hair and throw it to one side. I did not step over the body but John asked me to help him put this trunk on the bed. I reached down and with my hands I picked up the trunk and with John helping me we put the trunk on the messed-up bed. John started to work on the lock of the trunk. There were some pots and pans and some household stuff in the trunk. ... We searched through the stuff in the trunk. I picked up John or Pop's snow boots and I walked out of the hotel room. I walked around the hallway and down to the elevator. John was still in the room. ... I waited there about twenty-five or thirty minutes and then John or Pop came up State Street and he joined me."

Michaels/Gary readily agreed to testify against his partner. Largely on the basis of that testimony, John Lee was convicted. Michaels/Gary later recanted his story and John Lee had his conviction overturned on appeal. Further investigation convinced authorities that John Lee had nothing to do with the Farmer killing.

It seemed that Gary had successfully escaped punishment by throwing suspicion on an acquaintance since, as Jordan wrote, "no one was ever successfully tried for the murder of Nellie Farmer."

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