Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Garrow


New York map, shows Adirondack Park
New York map, shows Adirondack

known as Yellowstone National Park and yet three times as large, it is a sparsely populated region. The preserve consists of nearly six million acres, almost 10,000 square miles, which is bigger than the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island or Vermont.

Its geography is as diverse as it is large. The western segment of the park is a gentle, flowing landscape of lakes, streams and rolling hills. In the northern and eastern sections, its characteristics are dramatically different. There are 50 high peaks and most of these mountains are more than 4,000 feet. The park contains thousands of miles of trails, hundreds of lakes and streams and spectacular views of an untouched wilderness that probably has not changed substantially in thousands of years.

It is America's most unique park where small communities lay hidden away in isolated valleys and forests. Even the most experienced outdoorsmen can easily become lost within its immense borders. And for someone running from the police, the Adirondack wilderness can be a good place to hide.

After the Domblewski killing, Garrow escaped into the woods near the town of Wells. He drove his orange Volkswagen hatchback through the Adirondack Park on isolated dirt roads until it was spotted by the State Police on the night of July 31. A chase began and the VW charged through the thick forest at neck-breaking speed, mowing down trees and bushes along the way. Garrow eventually crashed the car in an area called Coon Creek. He jumped from the VW and ran through the woods with state cops in hot pursuit. Within a few minutes, he managed to get away from the two troopers who were hopelessly tangled in the heavy underbrush. He slowed to a walk and began to make his way east. Garrow was comfortable in the wilderness; he had grown up in a very similar environment and knew how to survive in the wild.

Garrow's VW hatchback after chase (Mark Gado)
Garrow's VW hatchback after chase
(Mark Gado)

By nightfall, Garrow realized that the police would be out in full force. He had to keep moving across the park and obtain access to an escape vehicle. Meanwhile, the New York State Police had brought in hundreds of troopers, several helicopters, bloodhounds and platoons of local law enforcement. A command post was set up near the base of Mt. Pleasant, not far from the Wells campground and huge searchlights were activated at the edge of the forest. Garrow's wife and child were also located in Albany and brought to the scene. The search continued around the clock.

"As far as we're concerned, he's definitely in there," a senior police official at the scene told reporters. While troopers scoured the woods with dogs and flashlights, Domblewski's companions identified the killer through photographs. The abandoned VW had also been traced to Robert Garrow and the next day an arrest warrant charging him with murder was issued by the Wells Town Court. Suspicion grew that Garrow was also involved in the killing of another Adirondack camper a few weeks before. A Harvard student, Daniel Porter, 23, of Concord, Massachusetts, was found murdered in the park in a similar fashion and his girlfriend, Susan Petz, 20, of Skokie, Illinois, was missing. Porter's body was found on July 20 about 25 miles away from the scene of the Domblewski murder scene.

The Arrest Warrant issued in Wells, New York for Robert Garrow
The Arrest Warrant issued in Wells,
New York for Robert Garrow

Soon, police helicopters arrived over the town of Wells. As they circled above the forests, the voices of Edith Garrow and her son Robert Jr. blasted through giant loudspeakers. "Honey, this is Edith!" the recorded message began, "Won't you please come out? Leave the rifle in the woods!" Garrow's son also asked his father to give up. "We don't want you to get hurt!" he pleaded. As the helicopters crisscrossed over the area near Wells, Garrow continued hiking north toward the town of Speculator. He was still carrying the .30 -caliber Winchester rifle. Over the next few days, Garrow was spotted several times by residents, but he managed to evade capture by running into the woods. Bloodhounds picked up his trail on several occasions only to lose it again in the tangled mass of vegetation and dense forests. Garrow purposely walked in and out of streams to confuse the dogs, a trick that bought him more days of freedom.

Then on August 7, word arrived that Garrow was brazen enough to visit his sister, Agnes, in Mineville. She told police she had no idea where he went after he left her. But during the brief visit, she saw that his right hand was injured and bleeding. "He said that he was in some kind of a ...they had some kind of...not a fistfight, they were fumbling over it or something, there was a knife involved, he said he stabbed...a guy got stabbed," she said later at trial. Dozens of cops descended upon her home and surrounded the area. But again, Garrow slipped into the forest and escaped. The police doubled their forces and expanded the scope of the operation almost to the Canadian border.

On August 10, a conservation officer who was part of a team that staked out Garrow's sister's home, saw Mrs. Mandy's son carrying food into the woods behind the house. When cops investigated, Garrow suddenly emerged from behind some trees and began to run.

"Halt! Stop! Police!" they yelled.

Garrow, still armed with his rifle, continued to run. The cops opened fire and hit the suspect several times. He fell to the ground wounded in his back, legs and left hand. After a brief struggle, police handcuffed Garrow who continued to resist. It was over in a few seconds. After 11 days and the largest manhunt in New York State history, Robert Garrow was finally in custody.

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