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Robert Francis GARROW

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: July 1973
Date of arrest: August 9, 1973
Date of birth: March 4, 1936
Victims profile: Daniel Porter, 23, and Susan Petz, 20 / Alicia Hauck, 16 / Philip Domblewski
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to a term of 25 years to life in prison, 1974. Shot dead in prison break on September 11, 1978
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Robert Garrow (March 4, 1936–September 11, 1978) was an American serial killer who was active in New York in the early 1970s.

Early life

Born in the Upstate New York village of Dannemora, Garrow grew up in a poor family of farmers. Garrow later said that his parents were severe, violent disciplinarians who regularly physically abused their children with whatever was handy, even bricks. (His accounts have been confirmed by his siblings.)

The police were called several times throughout the years to break up violent fights between Garrow and his alcoholic father; after a particularly brutal episode when Garrow was 15, he was sent to a reform school.

He joined the Air Force upon his release, but was court-martialed a year later for stealing money from a superior officer and spent six months in a military prison in Florida. After a failed escape attempt, he spent a year in another stockade in Georgia.

Garrow also later reported a long history of sexual dysfunction and paraphilias; he committed several acts of bestiality with the farm animals he worked with throughout childhood and adolescence, and would often perform sadomasochistic masturbation with milking machines.

Criminal history

Garrow returned to New York in 1957, married and fathered a son. His life did not improve, however; he was fired from a series of menial jobs, including from a fast food restaurant he burglarized, and was involved in an abusive homosexual relationship with a man he later described as a sadist. He was arrested for rape in 1961 and spent seven years in prison. Soon after he was released, he committed a series of rapes; many of his victims were children. He was arrested for the rape of two prepubescent girls, but jumped bail and became a fugitive. His crimes soon escalated to murder.

He murdered four people in July 1973, including a young woman whom he kidnapped and repeatedly raped before killing, and a high school-aged camper in the Adirondacks a few days later, spurring on a statewide manhunt (at the time, the largest in New York State history). Garrow was tracked down, cornered, and shot in the foot, arm, and back by a Conservation Officer. He survived, but alleged that he was partially paralyzed. Garrow was treated at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh, NY, where doctors denied his claims of paralysis.

He sued the State of New York for $10 million, alleging that the state's doctors had been negligent in treating the gun shot wound which lead to his alleged paralysis. He was moved to a medium security prison in exchange for dropping the lawsuit and was later found to be faking his paralysis.

Garrow pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but the jury rejected it and found him guilty of first-degree murder, sentencing him to a term of 25 years to life in prison. Garrow began his sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility (maximum security) in Dannemora, NY, on July 2, 1974. Due to his alleged paralysis, however, Garrow repeatedly requested transfer to the Elderly and Handicapped Unit (minimum security) within the medium-security Fishkill Correctional Facility. In September, 1977, a death threat against Garrow prompted his transfer to Auburn Correctional Facility (maximum security). It was not until early 1978 that Garrow was transferred to Fishkill.

Garrow's lawyers (Francis Belge and Frank Armani), with whom he had shared the location of two victims' bodies, were accused of withholding evidence from the court, but were exonerated by a jury who thought they were obeying attorney/client privilege.

Escape and Death

Garrow escaped from the Fishkill prison on September 8, 1978. He was in possession of a .32 caliber pistol he had obtained from his son, who concealed the weapon inside a bucket of chicken he brought to his father during a visit. Garrow was spotted by guards three days later a few hundred yards away from the prison walls and shot at his pursuers, but was killed when they returned fire.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

ROBERT GARROW: THE PREDATOR

By Mark Gado


Hunting

The stocky, bullish-looking man studied the two girls as they walked down the deserted street in upstate Geddes, New York, on the morning of May 31, 1973. They were wearing neat, colorful dresses and an innocent, playful look; the kind he preferred and often fantasized about. He licked his lips and methodically rubbed his hands together with the anticipation of the moment when he would have them all to himself.

He observed the girls carefully through his tinted glasses as he opened the door to his car and stepped onto the pavement. He glanced up and down the street, careful to take notice of anyone who happened to walk by. There was no one.  The traffic light at the end of the block turned red, but the street was empty. The man then walked briskly, following the girls as they strolled past the row of houses that lined the avenue.

He placed both of his large hands into his pockets, feeling the blade of the folded knife in his right hand. One of the girls sensed there was someone following her and she turned to see who it was. She wasn’t too concerned, because she had lived there her entire life, all 9 years of it. The town was safe. Her friend, who attended the same school, had just turned 11. She absently glanced at the man over her shoulder. They made eye contact, the predator and the prey, and for one brief moment, he relished in the innocence of his victim.

The excited man quickened his pace until he came to within two feet of the victims. “Stop!” he called. They came to a sudden halt and looked behind them.  “Police!” he said and showed them a phony badge, which he immediately placed back in his pocket. It really didn’t matter since neither girl would know a real badge if they saw one.

He told them that he was a police officer from the nearby town of Camillus. He said they had to come down to the police station to help him find a lost dog. He was polite yet firm. They had to come he said and emphasized that point. They had no choice he said. He escorted the girls back down the street and herded them into his car while he scanned the area for any witnesses.

He drove around aimlessly until he spotted a place in the fields where there were no houses or farms. He parked his car on Maple Road in Camillus and took the girls out of the back seat. They walked up to the top of the nearby hills where, once he was sure there was no chance of being interrupted, he laid a blanket down onto the grass. It was a breezy, spring day.

“C’mere!” he said to the 9-year-old. The girl looked up, her wide eyes full of fear and worry. She froze when she looked over at her friend unsure what to do next. They didn’t know what the man wanted. The stranger pulled a plastic handgun out of his rear pocket. It looked real and must have been terrifying to the children. He stuck the gun in the face of the 9-year old. “C’mere! I said!” he ordered.

“I had the girls play with me, if that will help you any,” the man told a jury later, “and one of them committed an act of sodomy, orally, and that is what happened.”  Their nightmare with this man lasted three long hours. The only redeeming factor of the encounter was that he let the girls live. He was fully capable of murder and soon he would kill others who weren’t so lucky as these two.

His name was Robert Francis Garrow, the predator.


Robert Garrow

Garrow was born on March 4, 1936, the son of French-Canadian parents near the village of Dannemora in upstate New York. Robert Garrow had five brothers and sisters; one brother died at a very early age. Another brother, the oldest, was given away at birth and his whereabouts have never been ascertained.

The senior Robert Garrow was a mineworker and a heavy drinker who took out his frustrations and anger on his son. But his mother, the 5-foot-1, 270-pound Margaret Garrow, was well known in Mineville and her hostile, callous disposition weighed heavily on Robert’s stunted development. “My mother was an extremely cruel person,” one of her daughters said later. She was a violent, unforgiving woman who beat her children and displayed little compassion or understanding for any of them. “I more or less block everything out of the past,” said her daughter Agnes years later, “I more or less closed it out of my mind, anything as a child.”

Margaret beat Robert often and sometimes used whatever was handy at the time, including a crowbar, a belt or even a brick. On more than one occasion, she had assaulted the boy to a point where he was rendered unconscious.  “My mother hit my brother Robert extremely hard with a piece of stove wood… I thought he was dead and I threw some water on him,” said his sister Florence in 1974. “My mother used to whip him all the time.”

With no formal education and no friends, Robert was left to fend for himself. He had no peer companionship and no meaningful adult supervision. At the age of 7, he worked on neighbor’s farms for which his mother collected his pay. “My father gave him away to a farmer down in Moriah and he worked there on the farm until he was approximately 15 years old,” his sister Florence said later to the court. 

Throughout the early years of his development, whenever he was at home, Robert endured frequent beatings from both mother and father. He spent most of his days and nights tending to livestock and performing chores that needed to be done. And most times, Robert was alone. Perhaps because of this isolation, Robert began having sexual contact with the animals on the farm. He had intercourse with cows, horses, sheep and dogs. When he first began this practice he may have been as young as 10.

“When I was probably about 10, 11, 12 years old, because I had no friends and I never used to play…I didn’t know no children or anything. Of course I had to fool around with calves, horses, cows, you know,” Garrow said  during court testimony. He continued these activities for years without being discovered. He may have experienced a sense of gratification with animals that he was unable to achieve with humans. “I never had dates. Never knew anybody,” Garrow said later.  “I kept doing it for 10 years or so…then after, on other farms I worked,” he said later. “And I used to put the milking machine on myself...you know, masturbate myself with it.” Garrow’s bizarre habits continued for many years. At the age of 15, he was sent to a state reform school for punching his father in the face after a heated argument. When he was released from the school a year later, he joined the Air Force.

In the military, Garrow suffered severe and constant ridicule for bed-wetting, a life-long habit that he managed to keep a secret until then. He later got into trouble when he stole money from an Air Force sergeant. He received a court martial and was sentenced to six months in a military prison in Florida. Garrow escaped from custody but was apprehended several days later. He was sentenced to one year in another military stockade in Georgia. After completing the prison term, he was discharged from the service. He had spent nearly two years in the service, almost all of it in jail.

Garrow returned to the upstate New York area where he worked at several jobs, but was unable to maintain steady employment. In June 1957, he married a local girl, Edith, in the Adirondack town of Lowville, some 20 miles south of Watertown. It would be the first time in his life that he had sexual relations with a female. Within a few months, the couple moved to the city of Albany where he got a job in a fast food restaurant. Soon, Garrow was arrested for burglarizing the store.

Then in 1961, when he was 25 years old, he was arrested for the rape of a teenage girl after he knocked out her boyfriend with the butt of a pellet gun. The police were able to locate Garrow, who immediately tried to avoid arrest. During a hot pursuit, police fired several shots at the suspect who was eventually captured. After a trial, in which he was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison, he was shipped out to Clinton state prison, better known as  Dannemora, the dumping ground for New York’s toughest inmates.

He spent almost eight years in prison. When he was released in 1968, Garrow maintained a quiet existence working in a bakery and trying to stay out of trouble. But in 1972, he was arrested again in Syracuse, New York, on charges of unlawful imprisonment and drug violations. Garrow had tied up two female college students but later they refused to press charges.

Then in 1973 he was accused of the sexual assault on the two little girls in Geddes. After he was released on bail, Garrow disappeared and never showed for the scheduled court date. An arrest warrant was issued and on that day, Garrow officially became a fugitive.


Murder in the Woods

On the morning of  July 29, 1973, a group of friends, Phil Domblewski, Carol Ann Malinowski, David Freeman and Nick Fiorello were camped in the Adirondacks near Wells, New York.

They were from Schenectady, where they knew one another from high school. They loved to fish and hike through the Adirondack forests. After pitching their tents near Old Route 8, south of the village of Speculator, they spent the night in the woods and were about to crawl out of their sleeping bags.

A few miles away, an orange colored VW hatchback was traveling northbound on the two-lane highway. Robert Garrow was behind the wheel. He had just picked up a cup of coffee and some doughnuts from a gas station a few miles back. As he sped down the smoothly paved road, Garrow admired the sparkling river that runs parallel to the highway, making Route 8 one of New York’s most scenic highways.

The old VW sputtered along, emitting sporadic clouds of blue smoke from its exhaust, a sure sign of burning oil. When Garrow approached the teenager’s campsite, which could be seen from the road, he noticed two tents set up not far from the pavement. Garrow pulled the VW over to the side and shut down the engine. He gulped down the remaining coffee, grabbed his .30-caliber rifle and walked into the campsite.

Garrow went over to the first tent he saw. He pointed his weapon at Carol Ann Malinowski and David Freeman who were still in their sleeping bag. “There was this couple in this tent,“ he said at trial, “they had no clothes on…I had my rifle with me and I asked them for some gas…I remember her putting her pants on…I don’t think she put a bra on, she didn’t have one.” He soon rounded up all four campers at gunpoint and told them he wanted to siphon some gas out of their car. But Phil Domblewski objected. Garrow brandished his rifle and pointed it at the group. He marched them all into the woods. “I’ve killed before and I will again if I have to!” he told the frightened teenagers.

Garrow was physically a big man. He weighed 210 pounds and stood 5 feet 11 inches.  He was larger and more intimidating than any of the campers. “Then is where everything, you know, all that pressure where I went berserk, I didn’t know what to do,” he told the court later. Once he herded them into the woods, he tied them all to separate trees, out of sight of one another. “I remember having people tie each other up and, I don’t know which one tied which one up…the girl was tied up last,” Garrow said. The terrified victims tried to reason with the stranger but Garrow seemed not to hear them. Domblewski especially refused to back down.

After he successfully tied Domblewski to a tree face forward, he placed the rifle down. He reached into his pocket and removed a knife that was honed to a deadly sharpness. And then, in a brutal assault, Garrow attacked the defenseless teenager and slashed him several times across the chest. “I went berserk I guess or something and I hit him with the knife,” he later told a jury.  He then plunged the blade into the boy’s chest, killing him instantaneously. The teenager’s final gasps for life were heard by the others.

“What are you doing to him?” Carol Malinowski cried out.

“It’s okay. I’ll be done in a minute!” Garrow calmly replied. In the meantime, the two males had managed to loosen the ropes and escaped. They ran for help while Garrow started to walk deeper into the woods. Within minutes, a dozen men from the nearby town were searching the brush for the killer.

Domblewski’s body was found still tied to a tree, slumped down to the ground, his head resting on his chest. There was blood everywhere, on the tree, in his clothes and in the grass. Garrow had also left his knife, covered with his fingerprints, on the ground next to the body. The men scoured the woods in the vicinity, searching every cave and hole, every ravine and gully. But he was too late. He had already escaped in the orange VW.

The hunt was on.


Manhunt!

Adirondack Park is a vast wilderness in upstate central New York. Though not as well 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.

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.

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.


"She Got Stabbed"

After his arrest, Garrow met with his court-appointed attorneys, Francis Belge and Frank Armani of Syracuse. Belge was a graduate of Albany Law School and Armani had attended Syracuse Law. They knew and respected one another but had never worked together before. Although Garrow wanted to help in his own defense, he seemed less than truthful. His attorneys had to learn whatever their client knew in order to defend him properly and they wanted no surprises at trial.

But Garrow was uncooperative and claimed a loss of memory whenever critical subject matter arose. In late August 1973, the attorneys decided to try one more time.

Garrow was already a suspect in several other homicides. On July 11, 1973, Alicia Hauck, 16, had disappeared on her way home from high school in Syracuse, New York. Garrow had lived in Syracuse at that time and had been observed near the school on the same day. Alicia had not contacted her family since that day, and a body had not been found.

On July 20, in Weavertown, New York, the body of Daniel Porter, 22, was found at a campsite where he and his girlfriend, Susan Petz, had spent the night. Porter was tied to a tree and stabbed to death. Susan Petz had not yet been found. Garrow’s parents also lived just a few miles from the scene of the incident.  In both cases, police suspected Garrow and the similarities between the Porter killing and the Domblewski murder were striking.

Since his arrest, Garrow insisted he had nothing to do with the missing girls. But Belge and Armani had to know the truth. During this interview with Garrow, the two lawyers pleaded with him to cooperate and advised him that cooperation would mean a better deal for him.

“I picked her up hitchhiking,” Garrow finally said to Belge. He said that he took the Hauck girl to the rear of an apartment complex in Syracuse where he raped her. “We had sex on the hill behind the apartments…all of a sudden and for no reason, she tried to run away…she got hysterical. I got scared and hit her with my knife,” he explained to the two attorneys. When Belge asked if he killed the girl, Garrow replied, “Yeah, I think so!” Garrow said that he hid Alicia Hauck’s body in the Oakwood cemetery in Syracuse. As far as he knew, the body was still there.

Garrow went on to describe how he had killed Daniel Porter in late July after he came upon the camper and his girlfriend Susan Petz. He said that he stabbed Porter after they had a fight. Garrow told Belge how he kidnapped the girl and kept her with him for four days while he sexually assaulted her. He said that on the last day she made an attempt to escape.

“I put my knife on the ground, and she grabbed it. We had a fight…I finally got my knife away from her, and she got stabbed,” Garrow said. And when he was asked where her body was, he replied, “I shoved her body down the airshaft of a mine.” He gave Belge and Armani detailed descriptions of where the bodies of both girls could be found. The attorneys realized that Garrow was now implicated in at least four murders. But his confession would never make trial. Whatever Garrow told them, including the details of the murders and the location of the bodies, could not be revealed.

It was information that was considered “privileged” because it was told from client to attorney and therefore protected from scrutiny by anyone, including the police and the D.A.’s office. It was similar to a priest and a confessor or a doctor and a patient. Nothing could persuade them to reveal the secret of where the bodies were buried.

Not even the desperate pleas from the victim’s families.


Two Graves

Belge and Armani decided to corroborate their client’s confession. They drove up to Mineville, New York, to the area that Garrow had described during their last interview. It was near this town that Garrow said he tossed the body of Susan Petz down a mineshaft. This area was honeycombed with deserted mines leftover from an era when mineworkers dug everywhere in the hills.

The two attorneys arrived at the scene in mid-afternoon. It was late August and the weather was hot and humid. Using Garrow’s instructions, they managed to get to the area he described. It was located at the base of a mountain near the entrance to an abandoned mine. They began their search on foot. For several hours they explored the hills and found nothing. They began to think they were in wrong place.

But Francis Belge managed to locate a mineshaft that looked promising. He lowered himself into the hole while Armani held onto his hand. Using a flashlight, he searched around in the cool darkness 30 thirty feet below the surface.

“Do you see anything?” Armani called down.

“Help me up Frank!” came the reply. When he came back to the surface, he told Armani he may have found Susan Petz. But he wanted to take pictures. Belge retrieved a Polaroid camera and Belge went back down into the hole. When he came back up the second time, he was sure. There was a girl’s body at the bottom of the air shaft. Garrow was right; the body was where he said it was. Now, the lawyers had no doubts: Garrow was a murderer.

They discussed what to do with this information. While they sat on the edge of the mineshaft and the body of their client’s victim almost within sight, Belge and Armani reached a conclusion that neither attorney was happy about: they had an obligation to protect their client.

They could not reveal this information to anyone because it would represent a breach of confidentiality and a violation of the code of legal ethics. They were also bound by law not to reveal what their client had told them. They couldn’t even tell the victim’s family members, who by then were wracked with grief and bewilderment over their missing daughter.

The attorneys also decided that they should go to Syracuse and search for the body of Alicia Hauck. The next day, the two men were on the vast Oakwood Cemetery property in Syracuse, where Garrow said he had hidden the body of a girl he killed back in July. They already knew from newspaper reports that there was a missing 16-year-old girl in Syracuse named Alicia Hauck who vanished while she was walking home from school.

Garrow said that he killed a girl fitting her description near the cemetery and hid her body behind a shed. At first they were unable to locate the remains. The attorneys returned to the jail where they had another interview with Garrow. He prepared a map to show exactly where he had placed the girl’s body.

The next day, Belge returned to Oakwood Cemetery without Armani and instead took a friend. After searching through the bushes for hours, they located the remains of Alicia Hauck. Her body was in an advanced state of decomposition and partially destroyed by animal activity. According to Armani, “Her skull had been torn from her body…Belge picked up the skull…placed it above the girl’s shoulders, then photographed the remains.” He had altered a crime scene and tampered with evidence.

But he was still convinced that he could tell no one of what he had found.


Lake Pleasant

The Adirondack town of Lake Pleasant is located 40 miles due north of Amsterdam, New York. It is a quiet community, which depends heavily on summer visitors for economic support.

The tourists come from New York City, Albany and other metropolitan areas to enjoy the lakes, hike the wilderness or simply relax in the serene beauty of the Adirondacks. Dozens of cottages and summer homes line the picturesque shores of Lake Pleasant, nestled in a cradle of low lying mountains and hills that are typical in the Hamilton County area. Located along State Route 8, the county municipal offices consist of a courthouse, a sheriff’s office and a jail.

Security for the trial was of the utmost concern to law enforcement officials since Garrow had already proven his tendency to escape from custody. Dozens of police officers surrounded the tiny court building and snipers were placed strategically around the intersection of Route 8, ready to take out Garrow should he decide to make a break. Some people thought police were overreacting since Garrow was confined to a wheelchair and hardly seemed capable of making an escape.

During his capture on August 9, 1973, he was shot several times. He later claimed his wounds had paralyzed him on one side, though doctors disagreed over the severity of these injuries.

But the trial would go forward nonetheless. After pretrial motions were settled, the decision was made to begin the legal process. Starting on May 9, 1974, more than 750 people were called for jury duty in Hamilton County. Attorneys Belge and Armani scrutinized the pool carefully, mindful of the tremendous amount of publicity generated by the Garrow case. Local officials were overwhelmed by the reporters who descended upon their community to cover the trial. By early June, a jury was selected that was acceptable to both prosecution and defense. The trial began on June 10.

One by one, Nick Fiorello, Daniel Freeman and Carol Malinowski testified about their experiences on the day of  Phillip Domblewski’s murder. They all identified Garrow and said he seemed to know exactly what he was doing during the entire time they watched him. Carol Malinowski testified that Garrow spoke to her at length during the ordeal but luckily, did not assault her.

The prosecution team, led by Hamilton County D.A. William Intemann, also called crime scene technicians who described the campground where the murder took place. Dozens of articles of evidence were introduced, including crime scene photographs of the victim, which graphically portrayed the killing. One photograph displayed the lifeless body of Domblewski still tied to a tree, slumped over in a brutal execution-type slaying, that could only have been done by a cold-hearted killer. The impression was not lost on the jury.

On June 17, after what seemed like an airtight case against a smirking Robert Garrow, who often sat in his wheelchair mechanically taking notes, the defense began its case.

The first witness was 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.


"Bluntly, She is Dead"

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.


The Predator

On June 27, 1974, with both the prosecution and the defense finished with the presentation of their case, Judge Marthen charged the jury. “If you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, at the time he acted was not suffering from a mental disease or defect of such a nature that he lacked substantial capacity to know or appreciate the nature and consequence of his conduct and that conduct was wrong…then you must return a verdict of guilty of murder,” he said to the court. This was the standard instruction for a finding of “not guilty by reason of insanity” verdict.

Although Garrow was obviously a deranged individual, his attorneys had offered no proof that he did not know that killing a human being was wrong. He had run from the police, which indicated guilt, and testified that he had killed before. He also said he had concealed the bodies and expected to go to jail for what he had done. All these facts pointed to a man who knew that murder was wrong.  After only two hours of deliberations, the seven-man, five-woman jury reached a verdict.

At 6:22 p.m. that day, the jury returned to the court and announced their verdict. Garrow was found guilty of murder in the first-degree. He accepted the decision without any apparent emotion and was quickly wheeled out of the courtroom after the jury was polled.

On July 1, Garrow was sentenced to 25 years to life. “I’m sorry it happened,” he said of the murders. Garrow was transported to upstate Clinton prison, in Dannemora near the Canadian border. Garrow’s injuries continued to pain him and he frequently complained of paralysis. But his physical condition may not have been as severe as he made it out to be. A physical exam, conducted before the trial, indicated Garrow was malingering and exaggerating his injuries for his own benefit.

In an affidavit filed February 21, 1974, Doctor Frank Dick wrote his findings. “Robert Garrow’s failure to walk is partially subjective…there is no restriction of the movement of Robert Garrow’s left leg when he left Physician’s Hospital in Plattsburgh, New York on September 19, 1973,” the doctor wrote.

Furthermore, he pointed out “the alleged problem regarding his back is in the opinion of your deponent entirely subjective because there is no apparent cause for this problem as the gunshot wound received in the back was entirely superficial.” Under constant surveillance by the Correction Department and pumped full of painkillers, which he demanded for his alleged injuries, Garrow fell into the routine of prison life. But for attorneys Francis Belge and Frank Armani, the trouble was just beginning.

The public fury over their conduct in the defense of Garrow grew into a firestorm following the revelations that the two lawyers had withheld the location of the bodies of Susan Petz and Alicia Hauck.


"In the Highest Tradition"

A state court directed the state bar association to investigate the behavior of both lawyers during the defense of their client, not only for ethical violations but for criminal conduct. The press continued to report the story and the issue became part of a national dialogue on the ethics and morals of defense attorneys. The New York Times reported that Belge and Armani “told neither police nor one of the dead woman’s parents who had come to them seeking information concerning her whereabouts. They only came forward with their jolting admission only after their client had waived the privilege“ (June 17, 1973).

Everywhere, it seemed, controversy followed Belge and Armani. In July 1973, Onondaga District Attorney Jon Holcombe announced that a grand jury would probe the conduct of both lawyers to ascertain if their behavior constituted a crime. “Citizens are in an absolute rage here,” he said to reporters on July 1. Armani was furious and said he was “stunned and shocked” by Holcombe’s decision to convene a grand jury. “Any lawyer with any guts who knew what he was doing would have done the same thing,” Armani said to the press, “but the law profession is composed of many different kinds of lawyers.”

But Belge and Armani had supporters as well. A well-known Chicago attorney told the Los Angles Times: “I’m in complete agreement with these lawyers. They operated in accordance with the highest traditions of the legal profession.”  The concept of lawyer-client confidentiality is long-established in U.S. history and by 1973, it was written into law in 48 of 50 states.

Professor David Mellinkoff, author of The Conscience of a Lawyer and an expert on legal ethics, explained the complexities of the issues. He told The New York Times that a lawyer is obligated to protect a client’s confidentiality but,  as an officer of the court, he cannot alter or conceal evidence in an ongoing investigation. The bodies of Susan Petz and Alicia Hauck were considered evidence and, during their visits to their gravesites, Belge and Armani may have disturbed the crime scenes.

A lot of people wondered why one of the lawyers didn’t simply contact the police anonymously and tell them where the bodies were buried. At least the families of the victims could have closure and the victims would have proper interment. But according to some legal experts, even that would have been a violation of oath. And evidence, such as hairs, fibers or blood gathered at the scene of the crime could have been used against their client.

In February 1975, a grand jury proceeding was begun in Onondaga County to decide if Belge and Armani had committed any crimes when they refused to tell the police, or anyone else, about Garrow’s admissions. When Armani testified, he told the panel how the case had affected him personally. “God only knows that this thing drove me crazy; it really bothered me. And if there was any way I could have, I would have told Mr. and Mrs. Hauck. But my hands were tied. And as a result, this thing has cost me dearly. My law practice failed. I spent nearly $40,000 defending Garrow…I’ve lost about every friend I have. But there was nothing else I could do. Please believe that!”

On February 25, 1975, Francis Belge was indicted by the grand jury for health law violations pertaining to a speedy burial. Given the issues involved, it seemed a trivial charge. The same jury refused to indict Armani on any charges and he was exonerated. Apparently the jury felt that Belge had gone a little further than Armani when he moved Hauck’s body during his visit to Oakwood cemetery in Syracuse. On the day the decision was announced, Armani suffered a heart attack.

Both lawyers received death threats during and after Garrow’s trial. They took to carrying loaded guns in their briefcases and lived in fear for many years that someone would take revenge for their stubborn defense of a ruthless killer like Robert Garrow. Their respective law practices crumbled. Clients and friends deserted them. Debts piled up. Belge gave up his practice and moved to Florida. Armani stuck it out and, over the years, he was able to salvage his practice.


Escape From Fishkill

Garrow spent the first few years of incarceration at Dannemora and Auburn Prison. In both institutions, he claimed that he received unfair treatment and was the victim of police brutality at the hands of the New York State Police. He also said that he was partially paralyzed by gunshot wounds he suffered during his capture in 1973.

As a result, Garrow filed a $10 million lawsuit against New York State citing these and other complaints. Perhaps due to his lawsuit, Garrow was transferred from Dannemora to the less secure facility at Fishkill, New York, where living conditions were a vast improvement over what he was accustomed to at Clinton. The Corrections Department later said that the inmate’s physical condition was the only issue in the transfer. “No consideration other than the fact we had an immobile inmate,” was the motivating factor in the transfer, a deputy commissioner told the press in early September 1978.

Fishkill Correctional Facility is a sprawling complex located in the rolling hills outside the village of Fishkill in Duchess County.  It was built in 1896 on 600 acres of farmland and became a medium-security prison during the 1960s. Fishkill also contained the notorious Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane where, until the 1970s, inmates were sometimes incarcerated for decades for minor infractions. But the prison was the target of a great deal of criticism during this time for its security procedures.

From 1973 to 1978, an incredible 32 inmates had escaped from the prison. Due to his medical condition, Garrow was placed in a housing unit called the Elderly and Handicapped section, better known as the E & H building.

On the night of September 8, 1978, Garrow placed a dummy that he had constructed from rags and wire onto his cell bed. He tucked a .32-caliber automatic handgun into his waistband and walked out the front door of his cell. An investigation later indicated the gun was smuggled into Fishkill prison in the bottom of a bucket of fried chicken. (Garrow’s 18-year-old son, two inmates and an inmate’s wife were ultimately arrested and charged for the incident.) 

Because he was held in the E &H building, where, security was not as good as it should have been, Garrow was able to walk out of the ward unchallenged. He exited the building and carefully made his way to the chain link fence that surrounded the facility. He managed to climb the fence and drop down to the other side. Then he crawled to the edge of the woods several hundred yards away from the E & H building. Once he had reached an area where he felt safe hidden away in the underbrush, he secreted himself in a spot where he could observe the prison.

By morning, guards discovered Garrow missing. Retired Correction Lieutenant Larry Lisotta, 65, recalled the event well. “We couldn’t believe it. The most notorious prisoner in the system had escaped right under the noses of the guards. It was hard to take,” he said recently. “The entire staff went on alert. The Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT.) was called out from Greenhaven,” Lt. Lisotta said. The CERT was a special squad made up of specially trained personnel to handle prison emergencies, such as riots, hard to control inmates and escapes.

Police also responded and surrounded the area. Officials believed that Garrow had already left the area and was on his way to the Adirondacks where he felt safe. “The feeling was that he was already in Syracuse,” said Lt. Lisotta. “We searched every inch of the area around Fishkill Prison. But it was a big area and covered with forests. Also right next to the prison was a major interstate highway, route 84 where he could have hijacked a car somehow. But the truth was we didn’t know where he was.”

The public was outraged and scared, especially the communities near the prison facility. Garrow’s crimes and his propensity for violence were well known. “I can’t think of anybody more dangerous to have running around loose,” a police representative told the press.

Search teams from nearby police departments flooded into western Dutchess County. Hundreds of cops, assisted by a wide variety of equipment, aircraft, police vehicles and dogs, descended upon the area around Fishkill Correctional Facility. All stolen car reports in nearby communities were meticulously investigated. Roadblocks were set up everywhere. But unknown to anyone at the time, Garrow was less than two hundred yards away from the prison.

He had found a hole in the ground, crawled in and covered himself with brush and leaves. For three days, he lay there, not daring to make a sound, studying the activity around him. More than once, searchers came within a few feet of where he was hiding. Still, he did not flinch.

On the third day of Garrow’s escape, a CERT team member made a pivotal discovery. Not far from the prison walls, a correction officer located a portable transistor radio. Officials quickly traced the serial number of the radio and found it belonged to Garrow. “That radio convinced us that he was still near the prison,” said Lt. Lisotta, “because we knew we had searched that area previously and no radio was found.”

On September 11, at about 6 p.m., Greenhaven Correction Officer Dominic Arena, 25, performed another search through the fields on the western edge of the prison.. This area was just a few yards from a chain link fence that encompasses the grounds of Fishkill prison. It was also just a stone’s throw from Interstate 84, where thousands of cars passed by every day. “We had an idea that someone could pull over and pick up Garrow very easily without being caught. I think that whoever it was probably drove by several times but was afraid to stop because we had so many officers out searching the area,” said Lt. Lisotta recently. As Officer Arena walked slowly though the bush that afternoon, he heard a quick movement a few feet away. At first he thought it might have been an animal. Suddenly, Robert Garrow emerged from his hiding place and began firing his automatic handgun. Arena was hit in the leg by the first blast and fell to the ground.

The CERT. team opened up with shotguns, rifles and handguns. Garrow was hit with a barrage of gunfire. He was sent reeling backwards and was dead before he hit the ground. An autopsy later determined that three .38-caliber bullets had pierced his heart and lungs.


Sacred Trust?

Attorneys Francis Belge and Frank Armani paid a heavy price for their questionable conduct in defense of Garrow. For years, they continued to defend their decision to withhold information that would have led to the discovery of Susan Petz and Alicia Hauck. Both men believed their conduct was in compliance with their oath as attorneys.

“To Belge and me, this oath was and is a serious matter, a sacred trust. At the time we took our oath of office, neither of us had the slightest idea of the awesome consequences it would someday carry,” Armani later wrote. In 1984, Frank Armani co-authored a book called Privileged Information, which is a lengthy explanation of why the two lawyers did what they did.

The grand jury indictment against Belge was eventually dropped and neither attorney ever faced any criminal charges for their conduct during the Garrow case. The New York State Bar Association later found there had been no violation of legal ethics when they failed to report the location of the dead bodies to authorities. Belge died at age 63 in Lake Worth, Florida, in 1989.

As a result of Garrow’s sensational escape, Fishkill Correctional Facility instituted new procedures that vastly improved its security and alleviated fears of the surrounding community.   As bad as it was, Garrow’s escape was not the worst scenario for the prison’s reputation. It was just the latest in a long series of escapes from the facility. In May 1977, 10 inmates escaped from the prison in a mass outbreak that had citizens and politicians outraged. Four of the escapees were convicted killers. All were captured without loss of life.

In the fall and winter months, the roads in Lake Pleasant are usually quiet and serene. But during the hectic summer season, a multitude of tourists can be seen hustling through the rustic Adirondack village tending to their chores and shopping excursions.

The community has long since returned to a sense of normalcy since the terrible events of 1973 and the trial of Robert Garrow.  “I was only a teenager when that all happened,” said County Clerk Jane Zarecki recently, “but I went to the trial often and I tell you, I never heard of such things in my life. I almost couldn’t believe it. During that time period, the town became paranoid, people locked their doors, slept with loaded guns under their pillows.”

In a sense, Garrow destroyed or affected almost everyone he came into contact with, including his own family. His son, Robert Jr., was eventually convicted in the jailbreak of his father and was sentenced to four years in prison for his crimes. He has been in trouble with the law several times over the years.  But Garrow would never live to see his son in jail. Even during his own trial, he had a premonition he wouldn’t live very long. “I feel bad about it all…right now, you got me living on borrowed time,” he told the court.

A newspaper editorial, published a few days after Garrow’s death, put into harsh words what a lot of people already believed, “Justice was served in the shooting death of Robert Garrow this week…he was a malignant cancer on the society that fostered him...less than useless to the human race” (Poughkeepsie Journal, September 14, 1978).  Garrow is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in  Syracuse, New York, not far from where Alicia Hauck was murdered.

 
 

SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE: Sex./Sad.

MO: Stabbed/bludgeoned two men and two women.

DISPOSITION: 25 years to life on one count, 1974; shot dead in prison break Sept. 11, 1978.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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