Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Carlton Gary: The Columbus, Georgia Stocking Strangler

Angry Teen, Angry Adult

He was 16 years old when he came back to the Fort Myers, Florida, house where he had lived with his mother and found it empty.

He learned that his mother was in Gainesville and followed her there. Then the frustrated, largely unguided teenager embarked on a criminal career. He was charged with breaking and entering because he tried to get into someone else's car. Two months after that charge was made, another case of breaking and entering was brought against him.

Gary was also convicted of fire bombing a grocery store. That crime was probably motivated by a grudge against the shop owner, who had pressed charges against Gary's mother for a bad check. In view of later events, it may also be significant that the owner was white for racial bias may have played a part in this crime as it certainly did in his later, far more serious offenses.

It seemed like something good was going on in Gary's life even in the midst of so much criminality and chaos. He met, courted, and married a woman named Sheila.

As an adult, Gary was a good-looking man with a high forehead. He liked to wear his hair in a rather large Afro and often sported dark glasses.

For his crimes, Gary was taken into custody shortly after his marriage. He escaped from jail and fled to Connecticut. From there, he contacted Sheila and she joined her fugitive husband in Connecticut. There the couple lived a nomadic life, moving along the state's southern shore to Old Saybrook, New London, Hartford, and Bridgeport as first one child, then another, was born to them. In Bridgeport, Gary again ran afoul of the law. He was arrested for assaulting a police officer. He and Sheila went across the state line to Albany, New York. In Albany, Carlton tried to embark on a career in music. He showed promise since he got gigs in various nightclubs.

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