Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Carlton Gary: The Columbus, Georgia Stocking Strangler

A Suspect

On October 2, 1977, Jerome Livas was arrested for raping and beating to death 55-year-old Beatrice Brier. Brier had been Livas' girlfriend and she had not lived in the Wynnton area. Nevertheless, there were enough similarities — the age of the victim, the brutality of the crime — for police to suspect a connection.

On October 14 they officially announced that Livas was a suspect in the Stocking Stranglings. Livas confessed to murdering Ferne Jackson and Jean Dimenstien.

The elderly women of Columbus breathed a sigh of relief. It appeared that their nightmare was over. The man who had terrorized them was safely behind bars. Police called off the Wynnton area stakeouts.

Florence Sheible
Florence Sheible
The apprehension of the Stocking Strangler was one reason that 89-year-old Florence Sheible, a Wynnton area senior citizen, had to be happy. The other was that it was time for the World Series. The dark-haired and bespectacled woman was a great baseball fan. She followed the game avidly. Like many diehard fans, she was familiar with all the different players and their batting averages. The highlight of each day for her was the time she listened to the baseball games on the radio.

She preferred radio to TV because she was nearly blind. She also had trouble with mobility and used a four-legged walker.

It was still daylight when an intruder barged into Florence Sheible's residence. He forced her onto her own bed and punched her in the face. Then he raped the woman who was only 10 days shy of what would have been her 90th birthday. Finally he wrapped a stocking around her throat and strangled her to death.

A few hours later her son dropped by to visit her. He found his mother dead with a pillow over her face and a stocking tightly knotted about her neck.

Just as they had previously breathed a sigh of relief, the citizens of Columbus now let out a collective gasp of horror. The Stocking Strangler was still out and about and doing his dirty work. The man the police had considered a suspect, Jerome Livas, had the most ironclad alibi of all: he was in jail.

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