Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Garrow

The Predator

Garrow sat in the wheelchair uncomfortably, his heavy, thick frame slumped down, making him appear less threatening. As he spoke, his dark glasses would sometimes fall below his eyes. He glanced nervously around the courtroom while Francis Belge asked him about his early life in upstate New York. He went on to describe his years on the farm when he was a child, working from dawn to late at night without any rest.

"I used to get up at three o'clock in the morning. I never used to hit the bed till 11 o'clock at night or so and I did this for seven days a week all my life," he said. Garrow was always on bad terms with his mother and father.

The police responded to his house on several occasions to break up fights between him and his drunken father who once attacked the young boy with a crowbar. At the urging of Belge, Garrow told the jury of having sexual intercourse with the animals on the farm. He said it continued throughout his teenage years and even on other farms where he worked for neighbors.

Garrow told the court of his many problems with the law and of being arrested for crimes like rape, sodomy and burglary. He said that while he was out of jail in Albany he became sexually involved with a male attorney who physically abused him during sex.

"I had a good build, husky build, and he started by taking pictures of me in his basement cellar...then it got down to where we got out in the woods, used to take pictures and used to have me play with him, et cetera, and so forth. I was against it, you know," he said, "I had scars all over my back from a whip."

"So while you were married some sadist was whipping you, is that it?" asked Belge.

"Um hum, taking pictures, everything," Garrow replied. He said that he was later arrested for rape in Albany and spent eight years in prison at Auburn and Dannemora where he had sex with the other prisoners. "Well I guess they refer to it as sodomy, I guess," he said, "both oral and anal." But while he was in prison, Garrow also took college courses on subjects such as science, geometry, algebra and theology. "That's all I did, was study and study, even at night, keep busy," he told the jury.

After he got out of prison in 1968, Garrow continued his violent ways. He testified that he committed a series of rapes in the Syracuse area, some with very young girls. He said he would wander the streets at night and when he came upon a good target, he would force the victim in the woods. "I supposedly had a gun, which was a cap gun, and we marched off in the bushes, and so forth, and we had intercourse," he said in a monotone.

During another rape, he abducted a girl who was parked in a car with her boyfriend. "She was in a car, she was naked with a guy on top of her, and I opened the door...telling them I was a park patrol or something, and so forth...I had intercourse with her too," he said.

He also told the court about the attacks on the two little girls in May 1973. "A couple of young girls, I supposedly had sodomy with them and had incest with them. I guess one of them was around 10 or 11, according to the indictment," he said. Garrow testified he took them to a hilly area in Camillus where he sexually assaulted both victims. "I think there was one of the girls that took her dress off, or lifted it up, if that will help you any," he said to a stunned courtroom. "The other girl I had her play with me."


Garrow often gave his testimony in a flat monotone tone as if he were talking about something mundane. He seemed agreeable and cooperative when Belge asked the questions. The attorneys could ask him anything, and he would tell them. But at times, he was evasive and whenever it suited him, Garrow had memory loss. He frequently contradicted himself, sometimes in the same sentence, and some jurors rolled their eyes during his testimony.

But the story was just beginning. Murder was next.

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