Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Carlton Gary: The Columbus, Georgia Stocking Strangler

A Vicious Rape, Officially Unsolved

When Gary was freed from prison in 1975, he went to Syracuse, New York.

On December 31, 1976, a man broke into a 59-year-old woman's Syracuse home, raped her, and then choked her with a pillowcase. The victim survived. Police would later become convinced that her rapist and attempted murderer was Gary.

Four days later, on January 3, 1977, a 55-year-old white woman named Jean Frost is believed to have had the great misfortune of meeting Carlton Gary. She had just had a birthday and was asleep when a noise jerked her awake.

Blinking into the darkness, she made out a man standing in her bedroom doorway. Then he jumped on top of her. A panicked Frost tried to escape from her attacker and he angrily told her, "You shouldn't have struggled."

He ripped her nightgown and shoved part of it into her mouth. Repeatedly and furiously, he hit the older woman in the face as she choked on the crude gag. Despite the darkness, Frost was certain she saw that her attacker was a mustachioed black man. Then he wrapped a scarf around her neck, choked her, and she blacked out.

Jean Frost survived. When she came to, she was aware of an extraordinary physical pain in her vagina. She was bleeding profusely from her genital area. Because of that, doctors would be unable to do the test usually done in rape cases for the presence of semen.

The next day, January 4, two men were arrested at a Syracuse bank. They were trying to turn $191 worth of coins into cash. The coins had been stolen from a man who lived in the same apartment building as Jean Frost.

One of the men arrested, Carlton Gary, tried to resist being taken into custody. Marijuana was found on his person, as was a gold watch that belonged to Jean Frost. He told the police that his name was "Carlton Michaels."

When Michaels/Gary was interrogated, he admitted he had gone to Jean Frost's apartment complex but claimed he had been a lookout for his crime partner (the same man with whom he had been arrested).

Jean Frost was unable to identify "Michaels" as the man who had brutally violated her and tried to kill her. There was no direct physical evidence linking either man to the crime scene.

No one was ever charged with the rape and attempted murder of Frost.

However, since he had been caught with stolen coins, Gary had violated parole and was sent back to prison. Eight months after his return, on August 22, 1977, Gary escaped from the Onondaga prison.

He went to Columbus, Georgia, his birthplace.

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