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Carlton Gary

Carlton Gary in custody
Background information
Birth name: Carlton Michael Gary
Also known as: Carl Michaels
Michael David
The Stocking Strangler
Born: December 15, 1952
Columbus, Georgia
Conviction: Assault
Property Damage
Sentence: Death
Number of victims: 7
Span of killings: 1977 – 1978
Country: U.S.
State(s): Georgia
Date apprehended: May 3, 1984

Carlton Michael Gary (born December 15, 1952)[1] is an American serial killer convicted of the murders of elderly women in Columbus, Georgia from 1977-1978. He is believed responsible for several more in Albany and Syracuse, New York.

On December 1, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Gary's latest appeal, clearing the way for an execution date to be set.[2] On December 4, a court set a December 16 execution date for Gary.[3] On December 15, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles denied a request to stay his execution. [4] On December 16, only hours before the execution, the Georgia Supreme Court halted the execution to hold a hearing and determine whether DNA tests should be conducted to determine Gary's guilt or innocence. [5]



Soon after Carlton Gary moved to Albany, two elderly woman were beaten, raped, and strangled. One died, the other survived. Carlton Gary was brought to police attention after he mugged an elderly woman in her home. Gary blamed a robbery accomplice for the rape and murder of the retired teacher after police lifted his fingerprints from her home. He then admitted robbing the apartment around the time of the rape and murder of an 85-year-old retired school teacher. Gary admitted seeing the woman on the ground, but blamed it all on his accomplice, whom he testified against in court. He was never charged with rape and murder mainly because he told the police that he had left the building and that the rape and murder must have occurred while he was outside waiting for his accomplice. The Albany police department charged his accomplice with the crime. Later on, the accomplice was acquitted after further investigation.

Carlton Gary moved to Syracuse, New York after getting out of prison in 1975, two more elderly woman were attacked, raped and strangled in their homes. One died, the other survived. Both attacks occurred within four days of each other. The two survivors were not able to identify Gary positively as the crimes occurred in the dark; at least one victim was sure that her attacker was a mustachioed black male, and she was strangled with a scarf. Gary was never charged for any of these crimes but was instead sent back to prison for parole violation and robbery after he was caught trying to sell coins stolen from same apartment building as one of the surviving Syracuse victims. In August 1977 Gary escaped from his low security prison by sawing through the bars of his cell and made it back to Columbus, Georgia.

Gary is alleged to have raped and/or murdered seven elderly woman between 1977-78 in Columbus. Known there as the Stocking Strangler, in three of the cases he was convicted of beating, sexually assaulting and strangling the victims, mostly by using stockings. Two of the survivors testified that he strangled them into unconsciousness before raping or attempting to rape them. The one Georgia survivor positively identified him as her attacker in court. However, she had previously positively identified three other black men as the attacker, and in her initial statement had indicated that it was too dark to even distinguish the race of the attacker.[6] Sometimes Carlton Gary would simply attack and kill his victims, as is the case in his strangulation murder of the director of the Education Division of the Columbus Health Department. His standard modus operandi, however, was to rape and murder his victims. Gary's oldest known victim was 10 days from her 90th birthday; his youngest was 55 years old.

His fingerprints were found at four of the crime scenes. All of his victims were elderly white women who lived alone. He also robbed banks and restaurants in and around Georgia. When, during an attempted robbery of a South Carolina restaurant, a female employee stated that his gun wasn't loaded, he fled the restaurant and was apprehended stuck in a swamp behind it. Gary was indicted for the murders on May 5, 1984,[7] convicted on August 26, 1986 and sentenced to death the following day.[8] He is currently on Georgia's death row.


Questions have been raised over the propriety of Gary's conviction.[9] According to a small group of supporters, Gary's lawyer was refused state funding to carry out a defense. Those same supporters claimed that initially, Gary's fingerprints were not held to match the crime scene prints until seven years after, when the case was re-examined. They also claim Gary's interview at which he supposedly confessed was not recorded, nor were notes taken, and Gary's confession was written by a police officer in the days following the interview, from his own recollection. When submitted as evidence, the confession was unsigned and undated, and Gary denied having made it. They allege Gary's semen antigen secretion did not match the perpetrator's. [10] Furthermore, a cast made from a bite wound on a victim allegedly did not match Gary's. His supporters claimed that the prosecution withheld this evidence at trial.[11]

An appeal hearing concluded that Gary had been denied his Constitutional right to due process, but refused leave to appeal.

In 2007 Gary was positively linked through DNA to the rape and murder case of 40-year-old Marion Fisher. Marion was raped and murdered after leaving a bar in Nedrow, New York. [12]


Further reading

  • Ressler, Robert and Tom Schactman,Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Hunting Serial Killers for the FBI. St Martin's Press, 1992. See pp. 157-161. ISBN 0-312-95044-6
  • Rose, David, Violation: Justice, Race and Serial Murder in the Deep South, Harper Press, 2008.[1] (Shortlisted for 2008 CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction)
  1. ^ "CWA Gold Dagger Award for Non-Fiction shortlist". Crime Writers Association. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 

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