Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Letters From a Serial Killer: An Author’s Correspondence With the Columbus Stocking Strangler, Part II


Carlton Michael Gary

Chapter I can be found here.

As Thanksgiving 2011 approached, I sent Carlton Michael Gary a poem I had written about this holiday. As with my Christmas poem, he expressed gratitude at receiving the Thanksgiving poem. In a letter dated 11/17/11, he stated, “I thank you for the kindness of the poetry that you composed.” He then complimented me. “You did a splendid job,” he wrote.

Gary drew a large picture of a turkey on the letter’s first page. It is a good drawing that accents the head of the turkey. Inside the body of the drawing he wrote, “Happy Turkey Day, Denise . . . Many Blessings 2-U and Yours!” The friendly note is written in a distinctive artistic manner.

Gary states, “Thanksgiving is merely another day in this dungeon. It offers an additional day of visitation, football an [sic] television, but that’s about it.” He continues, “The state once tried to serve a rather nice little traditional meal to the inmates here, many years ago” but indicates that this practice has stopped. He elaborates that he would not eat the usual meal of what is often called “turkey day” as he is a vegan.

Then Gary discusses recent developments in his case. He complains of “misrepresentation by the state, in that no DNA was found on the additional items I requested testing on. There was NOT a DNA test done, only a chemical test for semen, which is alleged by the GBI. IF they conducted any, we don’t think their lab is equipped to do specific tests, like ‘Y-STR,’ but an approved lab is.”

Click to read the letter.

Gary claims that the prosecution failed in its duties of disclosure. He writes, “Earlier test results years ago are not revealed to us, because the state and ALL its players did not turn over even ONE lab report, nor tested samples left for the defense’s right to test. ALL of them, GBI too, claim they do not know where these results are, although I DO have a RIGHT (WHAT’S THAT??) to that.” The last sentence and rhetorical question in parenthesis emphasize his claim that his rights have been violated.

Later Gary asserts, “Also note that another guy was picked out, he fits the blood/secretor status, and allegedly gave statements that included facts only know to cops and perpetrator. This is true down to a match to him by the GBI, in THREE of the co-called ‘similar transaction’ crimes, and we do NOT know each other.”

He pointedly states, “Writers, such as yourself, should look at such abuses in this case, and the state’s lies fall apart.”

I contacted one of Gary’s attorneys, Jack R. Martin, for clarification of the above statements. “Nine people were believed to have been victims of the Columbus Stocking Strangler,” Martin states. “Two of them survived although one did not survive until trial. Gertrude Miller survived until trial and she identified Carlton Michael Gary as her attacker. There was clothing on her at the time of the attack that the GBI tested. The GBI said they found no semen on the clothing. We sent the clothing to an independent lab that did a Y-STR analysis in which it looks for DNA from a male sperm cell. That lab found cells unique to sperm on the clothing that do not match Carlton.”

Gary's Christmas card. Click to read.

When asked what Gary referred to when he complained that the prosecution failed to reveal the results of earlier tests to the defense, Martin answered, “That goes back to long before DNA testing had been perfected in mid-1984 at the time of his trial. What was not disclosed was the results of secretor/non-secretor testing. 80% of the population secrete blood types into bodily fluids while 20% of the population do not secrete their blood types into bodily fluids. The testing showed that the rapist of the tested victims was a non-secretor. Carlton is a strong secretor.”

Who is Gary referring to when he states that someone else was “picked out” for the crimes who “fits the blood-secretor status” and gave statements that “included facts only known to cops and perpetrator”? Martin answers, “I believe he is talking about a person named Jerome Lavis who confessed to these crimes. Police believed the confession is bogus.”

Authorities found a DNA match with Gary to Marion Fisher, victim of a 1975 murder in Syracuse, New York and to Atlanta victim Jean Dimenstein, a 71-year-old woman whom the Columbus Stocking Strangler is believed to have killed although no one has ever been charged in her death. Asked about these matches, Martin answered, “I know they claim there are matches. We haven’t had an independent analysis.”

Martin elaborates, “We’re going to be moving for a new trial. We will try to get a new trial and he will plead not guilty.”

The writer contacted Muscogee County District Attorney Julia Slater for comment about these matters but she said, “I am not free to speak about it.”

After Gary detailed his allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and claims of innocence, he ended the November 2011 letter on a lighter note wishing me a “safe and blessed holiday season.”

Toward the end of 2011, I received a Christmas card from Gary. He used colored inks in the Christmas colors of green and red to write in the card. On one page, he outlined in green and wrote in red: “Season’s Greetings, Denise, Family, Friends, Pets & Animals From Carlton Michael” with the “From Carlton Michael” separated from the previous message in its own green outlined bubble. On the next page, he outlined in red and wrote in green “One Love!”

Both the truths of the Columbus Stocking Stranglings and the ultimate fate of Carlton Michael Gary have yet to be completely determined as of this writing.

More about Carlton Michael Gary. 

Why I Write to Prisoners: Author Denise Noe discusses her correspondence with notable inmates. 

Gary’s letters can be read on the next page.

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