COLUMBUS, Ga. — A special TV program on Investigation Discovery about the ‘Stocking Strangler’ is bringing attention to Columbus. The hour-long episode aired Monday night and covered a string of rapes and stranglings in the late 1970s.
Carlton Gary, the man convicted of three of those rapes and murders in 1986, appeared in superior court earlier this year trying to win a new trial.
Seven women were raped and strangled to death in Columbus in 1977 to 1978. Six of the incidents occurred in the Wynnton neighborhood area,which is now known as Midtown. The first happened in 1977. The last one occurred in 1978 outside of the Wynnton neighborhood area on Steam Mill Road.
Retired Ledger-Enquirer columnist Richard Hyatt was featured in the show and shares his experience covering the string of crimes and ‘Stocking Strangler’ trial in 1986.
“I would come home at 11 or 12 at night or later and invariably go through a road block or blue lights flashing because they were just, the police were on edge and the community was on edge,” Hyatt explained.
Carlton Gary was identified as a suspect in 1984 and Hyatt remembers as Gary was brought to Columbus that May.
“I’ve always described it as he arrived like a rock star. He was very cocky,” Hyatt described.
Gary’s trial started two years later.
“The trial was unusual because his defense didn’t put up a case to everyone’s surprise,” Hyatt said.
Gary was charged with three of the murders.
“The sentencing was quick and clean if a capital case can be so,” Hyatt said.
Gary was sentenced to death.
“That was 1986 and here we stand in 2017 and Carlton Gary was back in a local court room just two or three weeks ago so, it’s still going. Clock is still ticking,” Hyatt said.
He says he saw some of the victims’ family members in the courtroom a few weeks ago.
“It’s a reminder of that it wasn’t just these women who were victimized. Their families are scarred and this community is scarred by all the things that happened that many years ago,” he said.
Gary’s defense team is still actively appealing the case and trying to get him a new trial.