Author of ‘The Columbus Stocking Strangler’ visiting Sunday

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 12:41 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - In the late 70s, people in Columbus and Phenix City were scared to death when several women, most of them older - were raped and killed -strangled to death with their own stockings.

Carlton Gary was eventually arrested and convicted in the 1980′s of being the so called “Stocking Strangler”. Now, a new book detailing the facts of the case has been published. The author is visiting the Fountain City this weekend.

Carlton Gary was convicted in 1986 of only three of the seven murders in Columbus. One thing mentioned in the book is an 8th victim and why the appeals process lasted over 30 years.

“This guy was a serial killer just like uh, Bundy and John Wayne Gacy and Son of Sam. Matter of fact, NBC News -- I didn’t know this -- it’s in the book -- called him the “Southern Son of Sam,” said retired Judge Bill Smith.

For seven months in the late 70s, people in Columbus and Phenix City lived in fear as a man dubbed “The Stocking Strangler” went on a killing spree.

“There was a second serial killer operating in Columbus at the same time -- the so called “Forces of Evil” serial killer who was a soldier at Fort Benning, who murdered two women in Columbus and actually had murdered two other women elsewhere,” said Author William Rawlings.

The suspect arrested and convicted for the murder of three older women in Columbus was Carlton Gary, born and raised in Columbus. Judge Smith was the prosecuting attorney over the case.

“In each of those cases we had his fingerprint -- laden fingerprint -- found at the crime scene of the victim and he also gave a statement admitting he participated in each of those,” said Judge Smith.

But, police say Gary was linked to a total of seven murders in Columbus and two similar cases in New York, where he eventually moved.

Gary was eventually arrested in 1984 and after being convicted in 1986, Gary was executed 32 years later.

I spoke to the author of the book, William Rawlings detailing the horrific crimes.

“I think what fascinated me about it was the fact that this is one of those cases that if it were fiction, you couldn’t make up some of the twists and turns that happened. It was a strange and bizarre story,” said Rawlings.

One thing mentioned in the book is the story of an “8th victim” — “A young lady in her 30′s who was deathly afraid of the strangler,” said Judge Smith.

Judge Smith says the woman was a Columbus teacher who lived near Gary who often stayed with her parents in Fort Mitchell after the murders started. After getting into a fatal car accident on her way back to Columbus, her family says she would not have died if Gary stayed in prison.

Rawlings will be at Dinglewood Pharmacy Sunday from 1-5 p.m. for a book signing. Anyone who shows up will also be able to buy a copy of the book or buy a copy at your local bookstore, Barnes & Noble or online at Amazon.