Tag Archive for strangulation

Inhuman

Inhuman (adj.) — 1. Without compunction or human feeling. 2. Devoid of feeling and consciousness and animation. Synonyms: Cold-blooded, insensate, unfeeling, Garrett Wilson.
 
There is no other way to describe a person like Garrett Wilson, a father who twice — several years apart — smothered his newborn children to collect insurance money.
 
The Malefactor’s Register has looked at baby-killers before. Clover Boykin, the Florida woman who strangled her son and another baby she was caring for, at least admitted she was mentally disturbed. But Garrett Wilson refuses to see the wrongfulness of his acts.
 
Wilson, when he was convicted of murdering his son, had the audacity to stand before a Maryland court and refused express the least bit of remorse.
 
“I am not going to cry or whine or beg,” Wilson told Judge D. Warren Donohue before he was sentenced to life in prison. “I’m not going to ask you for anything.”
 
Wilson was probably incapable of crying, whining or begging, because as homo psychopathus, his subspecies of human being is incapable of honestly expressing these types of emotions.
 
Diagnosing a true psychopath is an involved and complex science best left to the experts, but Wilson exhibited many of the character traits commonly found in psychopaths. He certainly had no compunction about killing his children, and that probably means he has some kind of personality disorder.
 
Was it the money, or was it just that Wilson didn’t like children? There’s ample evidence to support either motive.
 
In the mid-1970s, when Wilson was 20 years old, he began having sex with a 13-year-old girl, Deborah F., whom he courted by buying gifts and generally taking her to impressive places. Over the next three years, Deborah became pregnant five times, and on four occasions, following Wilson’s instructions, had an abortion. The last time, the doctor refused to perform the procedure because Deborah was five months pregnant. Instead Deborah and Wilson married. She was 15 and he was 22.
 
When Deborah was seven months pregnant, Wilson provided a glimpse into his psyche by asking if she would be all right if “something ever happened to the baby.”
 
Their daughter, Brandi, was a healthy and normal child born in late February 1981, and Deborah was a loving, caring mother. Wilson, however, never expressed any interest in the child and did not assist in changing or feeding the baby. His sole involvement was to purchase a pair of insurance policies on Brandi from two different agents in the amount of $10,000 and $30,000. He did not tell Deborah about the policies and named himself as the sole beneficiary. The insurance agents later said that had they known Wilson was taking out two policies from different companies, they would not have insured the baby.
 
On the night of April 30, 1981, Deborah was sick in bed. Uncharacteristically, Wilson opted to forgo help from Deborah’s mother, who usually stepped in to take care of the baby in Deborah’s stead, and gave his wife three or four pills that he said were vitamins.
 
There were a couple of firsts that occurred that night. It was the first time that Deborah slept through the night since the baby was born, and the first time that Wilson ever cared for his daughter.
 
Around 6 a.m., Wilson called his in-laws and told them that Brandi was dead. He had not called 911 or awakened his wife. His mother-in-law had to tell him to call 911 and then the distraught grandparents rushed over to the Wilson home.
 
Strangely, although the fire station was much closer to the Wilson home than the grandparents were, and despite the fact that Deborah’s parents had to dress before leaving their home, they arrived before the paramedics. That is not an indictment of the Emergency Medical Services.
 
Deborah was in such a deep sleep that she was not awakened by either the arrival of her parents or the paramedics. Her mother had to shake her awake.
 
After an autopsy, Brandi’s death was labeled as a Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) death. The medical examiner identified certain elements of the autopsy findings, such as pinpoint hemorrhages on the thymus gland and on the surfaces of the lungs and heart, which were consistent with suffocation but were not enough, by themselves, to lead her to opine that suffocation was the cause of death, or that the manner was anything but natural.
 
Deborah, however, suspected Wilson was responsible for Brandi’s death. She left him four months after Brandi’s death, and they later divorced.
 
The day his daughter died, Wilson called one of the insurance agents and informed him of Brandi’s death. Later that day, he played pool and then went flying with a friend. Eventually, Wilson collected the $ 40,000 in insurance proceeds and bought a new Trans Am.
 
Five years later, Wilson was scamming several different women. He was engaged to two women and had weddings planned for March and June, 1986. Fortunately, for his June bride, she managed to find information in his wallet that indicated his plans for March. On the down side, it was not until a month before the ceremony, so the young lady had the sad duty to inform everyone who was invited to her wedding, as well as her wedding party, that she had been duped by a con man. She demanded that he repay her expenses for the wedding, as well as for the gifts he gave her and later convinced her to pay for.
 
While married to his second wife, he began courting yet another woman, who he convinced to loan him $5,000.
 
Wilson’s wife gave birth to a son in March 1987. Just as before, Wilson showed no interest in the baby and did not participate in caring for his child. He did, however, take the time to purchase two life insurance policies totaling $150,000 on his son, Garrett Michael. Prior to his son’s birth, Wilson did tell his second wife that Brandi had died of SIDS, and the woman, fearful that there was some genetic link, researched the topic. By August 1987, she felt confident that Garrett Michael was out of the woods, because he had passed the age range when SIDS commonly strikes. Wilson did not reply to her comment, she recalled later.
 
By late summer 1987, the woman who loaned Wilson the five grand was “pushing really hard” for payment. Wilson told her over the phone that he would have the money soon because, she testified, he was “going to take care of it this weekend.”
 
Garrett Michael died nine days after that phone call, at approximately 6 a.m. on August 22, 1987.
 
The morning of Garrett Michael’s death was the first occasion Wilson took care of him without his wife around. The baby cried and his mother started to get up to feed him. Instead, Wilson offered to take the feeding. Wilson’s wife said she was surprised at the time because he had never before made such an offer.
 
Wilson went into Garrett Michael’s room with the mother listening via a baby monitor. She heard footsteps approaching the crib, and then creaking sounds from a rocking chair in the nursery. The rocking-chair sounds continued for approximately seven minutes, and then she heard a “patting sound.” She next heard footsteps approaching the crib again, and a “sigh” similar to “expelling air.”
 
“This last sound concerned her, but she was not overly alarmed,” court records state. “She reasoned that, if (Wilson) had a problem, he would call her. She then got up and went downstairs to feed her two cats, who had been pestering her for food. Afterwards, she went upstairs to Garrett Michael’s room. (Wilson) was no longer there. She immediately noticed that the baby did not ‘feel right,’ and there was foam around his mouth. He was limp when she picked him up.”
 
“Garrett, what did you do to him?” she screamed at her husband, whom she described as being “pale.”
 
Wilson silently walked away when she begged him to call 911, forcing her to make the call. She attempted CPR while going downstairs to turn on the houselights to guide the paramedics to the house. Paramedics arrived and rushed Garrett Michael to Shady Grove Hospital. After the ambulance left the house, Wilson and his wife went to her two-door Saab to follow the ambulance to the hospital. Before leaving, he removed the baby’s car seat from the back seat.
 
Garrett Michael was pronounced dead at the hospital. While in the ambulance his heart had been fibrillating. An EKG reading obtained by the paramedics showed that Garrett Michael’s body still contained electronic waves, indicating that he had just died or was in the process of dying. One paramedic testified that the baby’s heart may have been beating regularly four minutes before the paramedics began CPR.
 
After an autopsy, Garrett Michael’s death was determined to have been caused by SIDS, with the manner of death listed as natural. The pathologist discovered no evidence of external or internal trauma or abnormalities that would explain Garrett Michael’s death. The baby’s brain was swollen, but the medical examiner testified that the swelling could have been due to resuscitative efforts made by medical personnel.
 
Just as before, the baby’s mother told others that she suspected her child had been murdered by Wilson.
 
Wilson paid off all of his debts using the proceeds of the insurance policy. He and his second wife were divorced in 1993 after she discovered he was also married to a woman in Texas and had a child by her.
 
She remained convinced that Wilson had killed her child, and continued to push for more and more investigation into Wilson’s actions. By 1997, Maryland police and prosecutors felt their case was strong enough to take to a jury.
 
Wilson was charged only with the death of Garrett Michael, and proving that the baby’s death was murder would turn on whether a jury would believe that SIDS is such a rare affliction that it was unlikely that it would strike twice in the manner that it followed Garrett Wilson.
 
Statistics played a central role in the trial, in effect providing the quantum of “beyond a reasonable doubt” necessary to convict a person of a crime. Various experts testified that based on the circumstances presented in Wilson’s case, there was somewhere between a 1 in 4 million and 1 in 10 million chance that two of his children would die in the manner that Brandi and Garrett Michael did.
 
The jury accepted the statistics and circumstantial evidence, and convicted Wilson of his son’s murder.
 
The conviction was overturned on appeal in 2002, when the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that the statistical evidence was incorrectly brought into the case. The appellate court found that there was sufficient research to back Wilson’s claim that SIDS was predisposed within families, and thus the statistical method used to calculate the odds of Brandi and Garrett Michael’s similar deaths was wrong.
 
Maryland retried Wilson without the statistical evidence and his cold-blooded reactions to his children’s deaths was significant enough to convict him.

Wasted Lives

Jeremy Strohmeyer was planning to attend his senior prom, but instead got his stomach pumped to halt a half-hearted suicide attempt after which he was chauffeured to the Los Angeles County Jail to await extradition to Nevada for the rape-murder of a 7-year-old girl in a casino bathroom.
 
A young man with a once-bright future, Strohmeyer lost any chance of a meaningful life in part thanks to a damaged psyche fueled by his increasing dependence on drugs. His victim, Sherrice Iverson, simply never had much of a chance to make her mark in this world.
 
A friend who was with Strohmeyer when he raped and killed Sherrice, David Cash had a chance to do something but instead he walked out of the bathroom when Strohmeyer began his assault and never mentioned anything to police until they came looking for him. As a result of his inaction, Nevada and many other states now have laws that allow authorities to charge citizens when they view child endangerment and fail to report it.
 
davidcashCash was hounded (and probably still is on occasion) when he enrolled in college while his former-best friend went to prison for the rest of his natural life. He was not charged in connection with Sherrice’s death.
 
In the late 1990s, the Strohmeyer case was on front pages of newspapers across the country and it provided television with ample fodder because of the depravity of the crime and the destroyed lives of everyone connected to the case who was at that stateline casino that early summer morning.
 
There are lessons to be learned from looking at the case, and we owe it to Sherrice, David, Jeremy and all the future Jeremys, Davids and Sherrices out there not to forget.
 
Could full disclosure of Jeremy’s parental history have saved Sherrice? Who knows.
 
But Jeremy Strohmeyer, spending his days and nights in a very small cell in close custody because of his status as a prominent sex offender in a Nevada prison for the rest of his life, has an idea.
 
“It could have been prevented by me, had I been armed with the knowledge I have now — but also by others, had they done the right thing,” Strohmeyer said when he was sent to prison for life plus whatever.
 
Adopted into a well-off, loving, caring, stable family, Jeremy was the product of a chronic drug offender who had amassed more than a decade of time behind bars by the time the son he never knew was a teen and an institutionalized schizophrenic. Jeremy was born while his mother was involuntarily confined to a psychiatric ward. She had been hospitalized more than 50 times over the years and was clearly troubled — her diagnoses include dipsomania and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
 
It’s no secret that mental illness and addiction have genetic components, yet his adoptive parents were not told of his biological history. This may have affected their treatment of their son.
 
What went wrong with Jeremy Strohmeyer? Who knows.
 
Very early on he developed an addictive personality, experimenting with drugs and booze as a youngster while his parents ignored or were unaware of the signs their son was in trouble. This is not an indictment of the Strohmeyers. Who could think that their 15-year-old son who had always been a good, obedient child was turning into an alcoholic?
 
In the mid-1990s, the family was living in Singapore, where Mrs. Strohmeyer had a job with a technology firm. Jeremy ran with a rough crowd of expat kids who frequented that uptight city-state’s bars where the local girls were willing to do almost anything for a price.
 
By the time the family was ready to return to the States, Jeremy’s future had almost been sealed. Had he not withdrawn from the Singapore American school, the facility would have expelled him, the administrators told his shocked parents.
 
He was self-medicating with whatever drug he could find, gravitating toward alcohol and amphetamines. His notion of sexuality may also have been warped by exposure to the no-questions-asked Singapore underworld. When he was arrested for Sherrice’s murder, Jeremy had some 800 files of kiddie porn and other extreme sex acts.
 
Jeremy was also violent. He once smashed an egg in the face of a prostitute, and on another occasion engaged in what he described as “whore dragging.” According to a friend, he lured a hooker to the car and grabbed her arm as the driver drove away. The prostitute was bumped and towed along the street until Jeremy let go.
 
At one party, he stole a kitten from the host’s house and then tossed it from a moving car.
 
Who shares the blame? There’s plenty to go around.
 
The lure of the easy money at the nickel-slot casinos that seem to be popping up all across the country affected the way the fathers of Sherrice Iverson and David Cash thought. Apparently both men figured it was all right to let their children hang around a 24-hour sin-bin filled with low-rollers and who-knows-what at 3 a.m.
 
Leroy Iverson had what his brother called “gamblin’ fever.” There are other names for the sickness that would let a 58-year-old man allow his 7-year-old daughter and her older brother loiter around the pinball arcade of a penny ante joint at that time of the morning. More than once that night, a security guard had to advise Iverson that his children were wandering. Once Sherrice went across the street to another casino.
 
Cash’s father shares less of the blame because his son and his friend were older and should have known better. But still, he could have waited to hit the tables in Vegas like they had planned.
 
Which brings us to David Cash.
 
Literally killing time waiting for his father to finish playing poker, Cash watched as his buddy chased the little black girl around the video games. He watched Sherrice run into the ladies room and then saw Jeremy take a drag off his cigarette, pitch it aside and follow her in.
 
Curious to know what was going to happen, Cash followed.
 
Slippery When Wet SignSherrice picked up a yellow “Wet Floor” sign and grazed Jeremy’s arm with it. The next time you’re in a public restroom and you see one of those signs, take a moment to think about Sherrice Iverson, Jeremy Strohmeyer and David Cash.
 
“Something, like, went haywire or something, I don’t know,” Jeremy confessed. “It’s, like, like when she swung that thing at me, like, I don’t know, like, I suddenly, like, reacted.”
 
To say he, like, reacted is, like, an understatement. Jeremy lifted Sherrice with one arm between her legs and a hand over her mouth. He carried her into the handicapped stall. David later said he heard Jeremy repeatedly tell the girl, “Shut up or I’ll kill you.”
 
Testifying before a grand jury, David said he told Jeremy to let Sherrice go, and even tapped him on the head as Jeremy held her.
 
“At one point, I accidentally knocked off his hat,” David testified. “He looked up at me, kind of in a stare, you know, like he didn’t care what I was saying.”
 
Inexplicably, David fled the bathroom, leaving Jeremy alone to rape and strangle the girl to death.
 
strohmeyer2Did you know that the average American’s face is captured in an identifiable image on surveillance cameras more than seven times each day going about his or her business?
 
It’s true, and if you keep your wits about you as you wander, you’ll see cameras in the most surprising places. The things that investigators can do with those cameras are amazing, as well.
 
There were no cameras in the restroom, but the cops didn’t need them there. There were enough cameras elsewhere in the casino that showed Jeremy and David and Sherrice together and the brutality of the slaying made compelling television. In a matter of days Jeremy Strohmeyer was under arrest and charged with his heinous crime.
 
His last few days of freedom give a pathetic glimpse into a life wasted. Sleepless nights, drug-induced oblivion, forelorn hope and inevitable resignation. Like Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment or Poe’s anonymous narrator in “Tell-Tale Heart,” arrest and confession was probably a welcome denoumount.
 
Jeremy Strohmeyer took a plea to avoid the death penalty and will spend the rest of his days behind bars. As a high-profile lust murderer, how many days will that be, and what kind of hell is in store for him?
 
Who knows.