Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Garrow

'Bluntly, She is Dead'

Garrow in wheelchair being taken to court (CORBIS)
Garrow in wheelchair being
taken to court (CORBIS)

Garrow rocked back and forth in his wheelchair from time to time, rubbing his bad leg as if to remind the jury that he was in pain. Of course, that may have worked against him since the jury knew full well that he was shot while running from the police during an 11-day manhunt. He pushed his glasses up his nose occasionally and sometimes wiped the perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. He told the court about the killing of Daniel Porter and his girlfriend, Susan Petz, alternately taking the blame for the crime and at other times, minimizing what he had done.

"It's not too far from Speculator, anyways...this guy comes up to my car and had long hair...I had my rifles and stuff...I want you to know that," Garrow said to Belge, "I said something because he got mad...we got in an argument and before I knew it, I don't know exactly what happened...I try to tell you as much as I can by putting pieces together, this guy got killed."

"How did he get killed?" asked Belge.

"By a knife, and I was told that he was stabbed several times, he was cut across the chest," Garrow replied without missing a beat.

"He had a girl with him, didn't he?"

"She came out to help him, and I hit her," Garrow said. He took Susan Petz as a hostage, he explained, because she "was very polite and everything, we had a wonderful conversation." He told of raping the girl prisoner for the next three days killing her on the fourth day when she tried to escape.

 "I guess I stabbed her," he told the court.

 "And what did you do with the body?" he was asked.

 "Pushed it down the mine shaft," he replied, "I ran and I ran and I ran until ...I came to my sense then, and I came to my sister's house. I noticed my hand was all bloody, my shirt was all torn." Garrow told the court that he could barely remember what happened afterward and that he often became confused during acts of violence. As he continued with his testimony, he recalled another murder.

"And there was another young lady involved," he said slowly, "In other words, to put it bluntly, she is dead." The courtroom got very still. Garrow stared straight ahead, as if in a trance. "Last year, '73, that was probably part of the reason I was scared, running..." His voice trailed off.

"What happened?" Belge asked.

"This young lady was hitchhiking...she skipped summer school that day...we had a conversation and everything, you know, and so we had intercourse there...this is down below the cemetery...we got into a little argument and she grabbed a hold of my knife and everything went berserk after that!" Garrow rolled the wheels of his chair to face away from the jury. He rubbed that portion of his leg where fragments of police bullets still remained. "I don't remember much of it...she could have been 16, 17, 18, I don't know...I don't even know her name...we fell on the ground, I just went berserk, that's all. She was strangled with a rope, or with a piece of wire or something."

Of course, the girl's identity was already known by the police and everyone else. Her name was Alicia Hauck and her body had finally been found in December 1973, months before the trial started.

After he killed her, Garrow said, he ran to downtown Syracuse. He went back to his car and then drove home where he had dinner with his wife, Edith. Then Garrow informed the jury of how he had told both his attorneys, Francis Belge and Frank Armani, the details of each of these murders and where the bodies of the victims could be found. He said these conversations took place months ago and that the attorneys had brought him photos of the dead girls for him to identify.

For three days, Garrow testified to a series of seven rapes and four murders whose details both shocked and angered the court. Whenever he seemed like he was coming to the end, he would remember another crime or another rape and go into long, convoluted details about the event. Belge let him continue unchecked for it was his hope that the jury would decide that Garrow was insane and come to the conclusion that he was "not guilty, by reason of insanity."

However, it was an unrealistic expectation because the truth was obvious to nearly everyone: Garrow both knew the difference between right and wrong and was aware of the consequences of his actions. If a defendant meets those criteria, he cannot be insane. It didn't matter how many people he killed or if he'd had sex with farm animals and masturbated with the milk machine.

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