Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Carlton Gary: The Columbus, Georgia Stocking Strangler

Near Miss

A task force had been formed to work specifically on finding the Stocking Strangler who was also called "The Chattahoochee Choker." Heading the Stocking Strangler Detail was Deputy Commander James B. Hicks and Director Ronald A. Jones. Detective Ronald Lynn was one of those on the Detail.

Ruth Schwob
Ruth Schwob

Like many other women, Ruth Schwob had become an executive through the death of her husband. Simon Schwob had founded Schwob Manufacturing Company in 1912. They made men's apparel. When Simon died in 1954, the presidency of the company passed to his wife. Although she had never been active in helping to operate it during her husband's lifetime, she learned fast and made a go of it. She was awarded the title "Woman of the Year" in Columbus in 1966.

Ten years later, Ruth Schwob sold the company and retired. However, she continued to lead an active life, walking or jogging every day and doing volunteer work in civic activities. She lived in a nice brick home that had a simple, homemade security system. There was a button attached to the side of her bed. That button connected with a wire that would sound in the bedroom of her next-door neighbor, Dr. Fred Burdette.

On the cold night of February 11, 1978, Ruth Schwob was assaulted in her bed. A young black male had climbed through a window and attacked her. She woke up to see him with his hand around her throat. The desperate woman pressed the alarm button. She struggled with all the might she could muster as, without speaking a word, his muscular hands wrapped a stocking around her neck.

He did not know that an alarm had gone off next door and that Dr. Burdette had called the police. The cops got to Ruth Schwob's house two minutes after they were called.

Detective Lynn and his partner, police officer Robert Mathews. As they approached the house, they heard sounds through the open window. They were the noises of someone gasping and gurgling for breath.

They were not too late. Schwob was alive and the Stocking Strangler was in the room with her!

Lynn told other officers to surround the house. The excited police officers believed they might catch their elusive, murderous quarry that very night.

However, when they made it into Schwob's bedroom, the frightened, injured woman was alone. Lynn immediately loosened the stocking and Schwob started vomiting.

A neighbor saw a black man running through his yard. Personnel in the ambulance summoned for Schwob had seen a black male running across a road just before they got to her address.

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