The Murder of Bonnie Garland
In July 1988, Herrin applied for parole. His request was rejected by the parole board, which said "the horrendous nature of the criminal activity precluded release." He spent most of his incarceration at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, New York, some twenty miles east of Buffalo. Despite the enthusiastic support he received from Sister Ramona and her colleagues during his trial, Herrin underwent a spiritual transformation in prison. Ironically, he no longer considered himself a Catholic. He described himself during one interview as "an atheist" (Meyer 285).
But Herrin would not remain in jail forever. On January 12, 1995, after serving two thirds of his time without any disciplinary infractions, Herrin was released. "Richard Herrin, the former Yale student convicted of killing his girlfriend 17 years ago when she tried to break up with him will be released from prison on Thursday," said the Times (January 12, 1995). He was forty years old. It is believed that Herrin later returned to California and is now living somewhere in the Los Angeles area.
The Garlands went on to form a victim's support group and have championed crime victim's rights. But their pain has surely never diminished. Losing a child to murder is a catastrophic, life-shattering event in the life of a parent. "If you have a $30,000 defense fund, a Yale connection and a clergy connection," Joan Garland once told reporters, "you're entitled to one free hammer murder" (Meyer 295).