Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Bonnie Garland

Bonnie Joan

Bonnie Joan was the daughter of Paul and Joan Garland who resided in Scarsdale, New York, one of America's most prestigious residential communities. Located just 25 minutes north of Manhattan by train, this tiny, picturesque village has always been a magnet for the wealthy and an illustrious symbol of success as well. Bonnie, like many of her neighbors and classmates, was raised in a family of high achievers.

Bonnie Garland
Bonnie Garland

Her mother graduated from Sarah Lawrence University and later earned a Master's Degree in human genetics. Paul Garland attended Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut where he graduated summa cum laude. He had worked as a dishwasher to help pay his tuition. After graduation, Paul went on to Harvard Law School. He developed an interest in South American culture, which convinced him to start a law practice in Brazil. The business was successful and Paul Garland became a wealthy man. But he never forgot Yale and the value of his education (Kornbluth).

The Madeira School in Virginia
The Madeira School in Virginia

Bonnie spent her childhood years in Brazil where she learned the language and made many friends. When she returned to the United States in 1971, she enrolled in the exclusive Madeira School in Virginia. This tony academy would become famous in 1980 when an eccentric headmistress, Jean Harris, shot and killed famed diet doctor Herman Tarnover. Harris was later convicted and sentenced to prison for the crime. Bonnie remained at Madeira until 1974 when she returned to her family in Scarsdale.

Jean Harris
Jean Harris

Bonnie had a talent for music and loved to sing. As a teenager, she dreamed of a life centered on music, possibly as a rock singer or performing with a band. Studious, hard working and blessed with caring, attentive parents, Bonnie was fluent in four languages by the time she was nineteen. She was popular, well liked and had an easy-going attitude that matched a beautiful smile. Everyone who knew her remarked on her glorious red hair which she wore long and straight in the style of the late 60's.

Bonnie was like a lot of people her age. She wanted to please her parents but was unsure of her future.  She entered Yale as an undergraduate in September 1974 at the age of seventeen. Bonnie was a natural for the Ivy League set: the daughter of a Yale alumnus, an international background, multi-lingual and a graduate of the exclusive Madeira School. She fit right in. Though she did well during her first semester at Yale, her grades deteriorated rapidly afterwards, a development which the Garland family took special notice. For Bonnie's poor performance at school, they blamed her new boyfriend, a young Mexican-American from L.A. named Richard Herrin who came to Yale under vastly different circumstances than Bonnie.

 

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