Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gerald & Charlene Gallego

Gerald & Charlene

Gerald Albert Gallego, under arrest by Mississippi police (CORBIS)
Gerald Albert Gallego,
under arrest by Mississippi
police (CORBIS)

Gerald Armond Gallegos criminal pedigree was flawless.  He was born in 1946 while his father, whom he would never meet, did time in San Quentin.  Upon his parole, the elder Gallego resumed his criminal activity and was returned to prison.  When he was next paroled he fled California, eventually landing in Mississippi where he, in two separate incidents, killed two police officers.  In 1955, Gerald Albert Gallego received the dubious distinction of being the first man executed in Mississippis new gas chamber.  

Little Geralds mother was no stranger to the lawless life either, having been raised in an extended family that included murderers and child molesters.  Lorraine Pullen Bennett Gallego was a prostitute in Sacramentos skid row, and her boy Gerald served as a runner for various pimps during the 1950s. 

By contrast, Charlene Gallegos upbringing was a fairy tale.  She was born Charlene Williams in 1956 to Charles and Mercedes Williams.  Charles Williams had worked his way up in the grocery business, advancing from supermarket butcher to an executive position with a national grocery chain.  Charlene was an only child and grew up in Arden Park, an upper-middle-class area of Sacramento.  She was gifted and talented, with a 160 IQ and a prodigious talent for the violin.  It was not until she started high school that predilections for alcohol, drugs and sex revealed themselves in her character.  She barely graduated high school, failed out of college, and was a veteran of two short, failed marriages, all in rather short order.  Still, millions of girls had preceded Charlene in the grand tradition of teenage rebellion and its related disastrous decisions without descending into sexual sadism.  As far as anyone could tell, she was just a very troubled and spoiled girl.

For his part, Gerald Gallego followed his own tradition of rebellion and disaster.  His run-ins with police began when he was six years old, and by the time he met Charlene in 1977, he had been arrested at least twenty-three times and had served time at the Fred C. Nelles School for Boys, the Preston School of Industry, the Deuel Vocational Institution, and the Vacaville Medical Facility, as well as various city and county jails.  He had also accumulated a rather large collection of ex-wives, having married and divorced five times.  Whatever failings he may have had, Gallego was irresistibly attractive to some women.  Among those women was his future wife and partner in crime, Charlene.

Gerald & Charlene
Gerald & Charlene

Gerald and Charlene met at a seedy poker bar in Sacramento in September 1977.  I thought he was a very nice, clean-cut fellow, Charlene said years later.  For his part, Gerald found her small stature and blonde hair quite fetching.  Within days he sent her a dozen roses with a card that read, to a very sweet girl.  They were living together within a few weeks, and Gerald laid down the law immediately.  Charlene was to be the primary breadwinner, turning over her earnings from clerking at a supermarket to him.  He told her what clothes to wear, and made no secret of his affairs with other women.  Still, Charlene found him exciting, much more dynamic than her two previous husbands, and when he spoke of his fantasy of having young, disposable sex slaves the idea sounded darkly intriguing.


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