Background of ‘Stocking Strangler’ case as execution looms for Carlton Gary

Published: Mar. 14, 2018 at 8:33 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2018 at 4:41 PM EDT
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(WTVM) - "He is long overdue to be put to death for the heinous crimes he has committed," says retired detective, Mike Sellers.

In May 1984, Sellers, a detective at the time, and officers arrested Carlton Gary in Albany, Georgia soon leading to Columbus police's discovery and belief that Gary was responsible for brutally murdering three women.

Detectives say the victims Ruth Schieble, Martha Thurmond and Kathleen Woodruff were murdered and choked to death by their own stockings in their homes located in the Wynnton area of Columbus. It's through those incidents the nickname 'Stocking Strangler' was bound to Gary's name from that point on.

Prosecutors also say Gary attacked others in Columbus around that time, a total of seven cases of strangling. There were seven dead women, but Gary was convicted of only three.

Fast forward decades later of several appeals, court battles and DNA evidence testing, including four main pieces of hair and semen from the Schieble crime scene, sperm found on Thurmond's body, a sperm sample from Kathleen Woodruff's bed sheet and fingernail scrapings from Janet Cofer, detectives believed to be from the murderer.

"But everything they tried to frame my husband with to put it on him, it did not match him," told Debra Gary, Carlton's wife, to News Leader 9 in 2017.

Gary's defense attorney, Jack Martin, said in January 2017 that the case has three main faults, which proves Gary is innocent.

"There's a bite mark which does not match Mr. Gary, secreter evidence..when you destroy the one good piece of evidence that could have proved guilt, then you can't in good conscience send someone to be executed," says Martin.

Documents explained a woman named Gertrude Miller survived an assault and rape at her residence on Hood Street in Columbus in September of 1977. Miller testified during the trial, identifying Gary as her attacker. Many claiming Miller's testimony was the most compelling piece of the trial.

All of this bringing Gary to now; 2018 and sentenced to death by lethal injection.  If executed, he will be the 48th inmate put to death by lethal injection.

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