Thursday, October 25, 2007

Someone else's murder

I watched a TV show last night. I do entirely too much of that, but this one was different. I did it at the behest of a good friend, who described how the circumstances depicted in the program had touched the lives of her family, especially her father. Over the past few years, I had heard mention in casual conversation of how the events had devastated her dad, but I never got a clear picture of what, exactly, had happened.

Last night, I got the whole story, chapter and verse, thanks to Court TV™.

The program was titled “The Investigators.” It’s yet another of those “true crime” shows that seem to proliferate on every channel from A&E to Discovery to The Biography Channel. Even the sophomoric E! has taken a swing at celebrity crime.

I have a dark—although unsurprising to the constant reader—secret. I’m hooked on these programs. I watch almost all of them, except anything with “Psychic” in the title, or anything on Spike TV. I’ve had too much interaction with real detectives, and we are agreed that the use of “psychics” on a murder case is a waste of time, and generally a large load of horse manure.

Terrible Ted Turner’s Spike TV, or one of its cousins, is currently airing some equally fallacious program wherein lay people are supposed to play detective and take on a homicide investigation. I am not making this up. The premise is not only ludicrous at first blush, but I am personally offended by it, for reasons that are again familiar to the constant readers of this blog. I’m a layman when it comes to law enforcement, and I’ve been trying to solve one murder for nearly 23 years. I don’t have camera crews hanging on my every uttered speculation. I’m not being paid the AGA [Actor’s Guild of America] minimum, which you can earn for one minute on anyone’s talk show.

Some of the true crime programs—including “The Investigators”—are reasonably serious. My favorite is “City Confidential”, but that’s beside the point. I enjoy Paul Winfield’s narration and the sometimes corny scripting.

To swerve back onto point, my friend’s father employed a young woman as a secretary in his insurance company. Mr. B___ thought the world of his secretary, Carole Garton, in a fatherly way. His daughter—known to ScrappleFace bloggers [see link at right] as “Charlie’s Mum”—has described how devastated he was when he learned she had been shot five times, and one of the .44 slugs had passed through the 8-month-old fetus. This happened in 1998 in Cottonwood, California—in Shasta County, I believe. There has been a book written about the case: Kill or Be Killed. The author is interviewed on-camera, but I don’t generally take notes, so his name escapes me. My eidetic memory is failing me. This is why Google™ truly exists; not to support Blogger™ forums.

I called my friend last night to make sure I was watching the right program at the right time; she’d laugh and agree, but she’s a blonde, and her initial data about air time might have been—err—erroneous.

The name of the episode is “Toy Soldier”, and every detail she supplied me prior to its airing is unerringly recreated, mentioned, or referred to in “The Investigators.” When she first excitedly screeched the news of Court TV™ airing the segment, my 40% deafness led me to believe she’d said “The Pot Garden Murders.” What she said was “Todd Garton.” She spoke it very fast—unsure of the title—and my slow hillbilly hearing interpreted thusly.

I won’t give “spoilers” here; you have to see this to believe it. Todd Garton is currently on California’s Death Row, for reasons that will become obvious with the watching of “Toy Soldier”.

I fixated on this, to the exclusion of more relevant “news”—like California now burning to cinders—because I have no tolerance for murderers, and I don’t trust the state of Arnold as far as I can throw it into the Pacific Ocean. The 9th Circus Court of Appeals is capable of anything.

“Charlie’s Mum’s” father was an “Airedale” during War II; he fought the same great fight as my father. Dad was a ground-pounder; a recounting of how he won his Silver Star is available upon request. Point is, the old man [hers] was devastated.

Someone—later identified as Nathan Daniels—walked into the Garton residence and opened fire on an 8-month-pregnant woman who was taking a nap. Both mother and child were killed instantly; he used a .44 Magnum, a very deadly handgun. One of the bullets passed through the eight-month-old fetus. He shot her very accurately, going double-action with the revolver.

I was once solicited to shoot someone “just a little bit.” Not exactly textbook murder, just “shoot and scare him away, or maybe in the arm.”


The motives were clean enough; a friend of a friend’s daughter works for a big-league weather channel, and was enduring a stalker. In their usual elegant way, local law was talking TROs [Temporary Restraining Orders]. Nothing had worked; apparently the guy had a case of terminal pestilence.

There is no dark, scary end to this parable, because aside from a conversation, it never happened....that is to say, no one got shot. My first explanation to the solicitor: when the guns come out, there is never any true control over what’s going to happen. My second, more strident reason: you hire an assassin; you’d better be ready to kill him. If you don’t, they’ll either give you over to the law at the first sign of trouble, or take you off for the fee promised up front. Most likely, if you solicit murder, you’ll end up making a deal with an undercover cop, and wind up doing 25-to-life in some state-run hellhole prison where dropping the soap can be a real pain in the ass. Forget the “just a little bit” part; someone may end up dead and the only thing worse than being the one who takes the dirt nap is the one saying “Ooops!” Last time I checked, hot pursuit of a cute blonde isn’t a capital offense.

No preciousness, no sarcasm. I have the attention span of a gnat, and the temperament of a rat on PCP cornered in a drainpipe. I also have two serious observations:

The first is a question. What ever happened to the good old vilified idea of divorce? I suppose a psychologist would say I’m somehow traumatized by watching my parents fight—verbally—like cats and dogs when I was a pup. Yeah, okay, it was scary. There were things in play I couldn’t comprehend. They still managed to stay married for 50 years, and when my father “caught” cancer in 1968, there weren’t any more “discussions”. My million-dollar mom stood by him like the Statue of Liberty.

If you absolutely, positively cannot get along with your spouse, there is this legal entity called a “no-fault divorce”. For those who actually built a body of money and good fortune and don’t want to risk a portion of that along with their hearts, there is the prenuptial-agreement. Last time I looked, love is a spiritual thing. I consider myself something of both an expert and fool on divorce; few people—especially domestic-battle-scarred guys—remarry their ex-spouses. “Hey, I liked being mugged so much, how about you do it again?”

It’s a serious question: Why, if you cannot abide your significant other for one more minute, can you not afford a good divorce lawyer? They come a lot cheaper than OJ’s “dream team” of homicide attorneys. Life is God’s most precious gift; if you don’t believe that, go find this Nathan Daniels puke explaining exactly how stupid he was born to the Gatekeeper of Hell. I’m sure he’ll be very interested.

After a lifetime of sarcasm, I find it impossible to comment on the unraveling of the strange, true tale that touched the life of a dear friend without resorting to it. The tale is pathetic because of the stupidity involved. I vowed to stay away from sarcasm, but I am mortal.

Murder is a pond ripple on the surface of humanity; it is a stone tossed by those who could care less, and like the ripple, it spreads beyond belief.

Are significant others truly disposable commodities that you can take for “stuff”? I can’t answer for the rest of the universe, but a “yes” or “no” would be helpful.

I, also, have been touched by murder. My mother lived her final years in a state of abject paranoia, fearful that she would be killed as my father was. She was spared the terror of an anonymous shooter in the night; the Reaper came quietly in her sleep.

I don’t worry as much; there is a firearm within reach every ten feet inside the Possum Den. Paranoid? Nah!

For the man who shot an 8-months pregnant woman five times with a .44 Magnum—the most powerful handgun in the world, as “Dirty Harry” points out—were you really stupid enough to believe Garton’s BS about a “company”? You have 50 years to arrive at an answer. Considering your age, I don’t think you’ll make it.


Anonymous Barb said...

I watch so little TV these days. does Court TV generally rerun show like this one. I remember Charlie's Mum.I guess I am lucky beyond belief ,that I have never personally knownanyone who was murdered.There was a young girl here in town who was strangled several years ago,and I know other members of her family ,but didn't know her. It was a pick-up in a bar ,they drove to the cemetary to have sex ,and she displeased him somehow so he strangled her and dumped her body in the cemetary.Even though she had a very dangerous lifestyle ,she really wasn't a bad girl and certainly didn't deserve to die. They caught him really quick .A bunch of people knew him at the barand saw him with her. She was probably worth 10 of him. As you said ,why kill someone ,couldn't he just leave?And that is true of a bad marriage ,too. You don't even have to get divorced ,just leave.Then you still get his health insurance. Sorry.

October 25, 2007 8:11 PM  
Blogger The trotting Possum said...

Court TV™ will re-run this show endlessly. I sent you an e-mail about the subject. This is that "Six Degrees of Separation" thing; is there anyone out there who hasn't been touched by murder?

In 1986, a year after Dad was killed, a close friend we'll call "Leprechaun" had his head blown off by a street punk. Patrick had survived a near-fatal stroke, and was the father of a year-old child. The shooter was a street punk with nothing better to do.

I unequivocally support the death penalty. The gas chamber and the electric chair may be obsolete, but there are still people who need to take that Reakky Big Shot.

October 26, 2007 5:41 PM  
Blogger The trotting Possum said...

Er, Really Big, that is.

October 26, 2007 5:41 PM  
Blogger Ursela D said...

Hello. I knew Todd Garton. I knew Carole before she married him. I knew Lynn, the woman he killed Carole for. I was the lead singer in Todd's band in the 80s. I am researching this Court TV show myself and have yet to see it. Robert Scott's book was written with me in it without my consent. He wrote lies about me and the band. He used my photos without my consent. So I'm not sure how much of his book is true since he clearly did not check all his facts and isn't listed anywhere to be contacted. I hope Court TV did not use his book to create their documentary.

Carole did not deserve her tragic end. To know her was to know true sweetness. Todd was not crazy. He was money hungry, and I believe it was all about getting rich regardless of who it hurt.

Someday I will tell my side of the story. I did not know them at the time they lived in Cottonwood. My last time ever seeing either of them was 1989. But there's oh so much more to Todd than anyone on this planet knows but a few of us.

Thanks for letting me share that. Carole's death was so hard for so many people and I just wanted to thank those who've openly acknowledged how much she was loved and will be remembered.

Carol Batchelor
aka "Ursela D"

November 28, 2007 4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Todd Garton is my cousin. I remember Todd and Carole when they first started dating. They were so happy together. We all thought they were perfect for each other.

Carole's pregnancy was an exciting time for Todd's family. Her eventual death and the death of the baby was absolutely devastating for everyone.

How can Todd, the sweet little boy I remember so well, become the monster he is today? How is it that Todd is a convicted murderer and his brother, a law enforcement officer,is one of the most honest, upstanding people I know.

I guess you never know what is going on inside someone else's can't truly know what even your own family member is capable of.

The sad aftermath of Todd's greed is the loss of Carole and the baby, his mother's closet full of baby boy clothes that will never be touched and a family that cannot fathom his actions.

December 26, 2007 5:22 PM  
Blogger The trotting Possum said...

Thank you for the belated comment, "anonymous". I put in an appearance on the local Atlanta news on 27 November. They like to trot out the story of serial murder that involved my father and three others every ten years or so. This time, I was the only family member willing to be interviewed.

You're right; you never know what people are thinking. The day after I spent an hour and a half being interviewed by the reporter for a two-minute sound bite, I was compelled to call him with a P.S. During the interview, I said some harsh things about the killer(s). That evening, a lady who attends my church and gives me spiritual advice called to ask how the taping had gone. I told of my harsh remarks, and she reminded me that we don't forgive others for what they've done, we offer forgiveness for ourselves.

I moderated my harsh remarks, which were to the effect that "I want to see someone dead or in prison". I surprised myself when I told the lady that if I saw someone in a prison cell or on Death Row, I'd take the forgiveness under serious consideration, if only the killer will tell me why he did it. That was my P.S. to the reporter, and they tossed it in at the end of the story.

I'm sorry your cousin turned out to be such a monster. I have no clue why people do such things, even after 23 years of trying to figure it out. The cops are 99% certain they know who the serial killer(s) are, but knowing something and proving it in court is apples and oranges.

There is a righteous God. The alleged shooter was killed in the 1990s, when he fell out of a truck and was run over.

I hope your cousin and his dupe can find some peace and get right with God before their time's up.

December 28, 2007 6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I just saw this show and, having worked in the court system for over twenty years, have to wonder: Is methamphetamine involved?
The reason I ask is that Todd's friends and family say he was a wonderful little boy and young man. I have seen this drug change people form angels to devils.
I'm not talking any drugs -- marijuana, even cocaine don't cause the devastation that methamphetamine does ... it is a truly evil drug.

April 05, 2008 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Dale Lee Gordon said...

My name is Dale Lee Gordon I am the main character of Robert Scott's "Kill or be Killed." I am the only one to have survived prison and most likely the only one who will out of this case. Carole Ann Garton was my friend and I would have done anything to save her had I known what was going on. Todd was an evil liar who hurt a lot of people. I try to put this thing behind me but it stares at me every day the damage is so severe. I live every day with the pain of what happened to my friend Carole. I am doing my all just to survive. I run a ministry at I only wish things had not have happened the way they did. At the time I would have killed Todd to save Carole had I known what was going on. Now I can't even kill a fish just to eat it. Death sickens me. I have still yet to read the full book Kill or be Killed as it really stirs me up. My heart goes out to Carole's family. I appologize for not killing Todd myself at the time but I had no clue what he was up to. Instead I did the next best thing I did my all to help put Todd in the worst place of hell on earth where he will never hurt again. I repent of my sins for ever meeting Todd, but much is not said about him scrambling my brains to get me to go to Oregon. I do however take full responsibility for the Oregon crime in the part that I did. I bless and thank the judges, DA's and investigators and all the kind workers in jail and prison I met along the way. I praise God and thank those who gave me a lengthy sentence. I used the time to get to know Jesus true character and study and learn the Bible. I only wish Todd never married Carole. She was so talented. She could have done so much in life had she met a real man. Does anyone know or was it ever told she would shoot arrows inside of arrows with Olympic abilities. Was it ever told that Carole had one of the best singing voices I ever heard. What about Carole in tennis how she beat Todd and I effortlessly at the same time round after round. Who gives a darn the stupid game players like Todd and myself. Do people realize there are people who will forever miss Carole including myself. I want to see a book written about the beautiful side of Carole. If I have to write it myself I suppose I will yet I know it will go against my probation. Carole was one of the most incredible women I have ever met, and God's gift to Todd yet his jealeousy and pure pathetic inabilities was why he killed her. Todd was such an evil liar he put everyone down around him including Carole and myself. I knew Carole well and I saw her pain but I also saw her love. Who could love someone so evil as Todd and yet always be so happy. She was such a special person. I praise God for Jesus because I will see my friend once again.

June 12, 2009 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Todd and Carrol were my neighbors on Alexander street in Anderson(just north of Cottenwood)about a year before the murders.Carol always sinced when I spent my grocery money on stock car parts.She would invite me for supper.She baked cookies for my visiting twin daughters.I worked part time for Todd at G&G fencing.Carol stood by Todd like a rock,scolding me when I pointed out that I had served in the Marines and Todds stories were B.S..Carol always took the time to make sure I was okay even when she was in a hurry.If you ask me Todd and Norm should be dead already!

September 30, 2009 8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Todd's Soulmate. Yes, that's right. Todd was sick [is] Not a monster. Nobody know Todd's story of that event. They never will because he was marked as a killer. The guy that did the shooting should have known better. Todd's wife should have left Todd before hand. She stay with Todd to spite Lynn. Lynn was the master mind of it all. The shooter is a killer because he confess.. he should have killed Todd if he'd known.... Urs just wanted to use Todd. Todd never wanted her. He only used her like she used him. I'm not saying Todd didn't do wrong but the crowd wasn't victims.. they were will participance... when Todd goes down. His blood will be on all that took part in this horrible ordeal..........kj Davis

August 04, 2012 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw you on Ivestigation Discovery. I can't wait to here your story. You knew everyone before they were all together. I can't wait to here your story.

December 31, 2012 3:26 PM  

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