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August 11, 2013

Prison escape proved death knell for Robert Garrow Sr.

PLATTSBURGH — FISHKILL — The horrific saga of serial slayer Robert F. Garrow Sr. didn’t end with his murder convictions in the mid 1970s.

Because he was considered disabled, the Mineville native was placed in the hospital ward at Fishkill State Correctional Facility near Poughkeepsie.

On Sept. 3, 1978, he got a visit from his son, Robert Garrow Jr., bringing a bucket of fried chicken. At the bottom of the chicken bucket was hidden a small .32-caliber handgun.

On Sept. 8, a dummy made from pillows and blankets was found in the serial killer’s cell.

He had left behind what authorities believe was a hit list of people he intended to kill. Among those named was State Conservation Officer Hillary LeBlanc, who had shot Garrow during his capture.

BETRAYED BY RADIO

State Correction Officer Dominic Arena, then 25, was assigned to Greenhaven State Correctional when he got the call to go to Fishkill and join the search for Garrow. He was on the Correctional Emergency Response Team.

On Sept. 11 of that year, he and the other searchers were getting ready just after 6 p.m. to wrap up the search.

“He (Garrow) did a pretty good job of hiding,” Arena said in an interview. “We had been there for three days; we were tired.

“We’d gone over the same area six times. The search was being called off. We figured he was out of there.”

But, in the final sweep, one member of the search group found a battery-powered transistor radio — it was turned on and was playing.

“Inmates were permitted to purchase AM radios through the commissary, and his (Garrow’s) name and number were inscribed inside the radio.”

‘CAME UP FIRING’

That meant the search was on again, Arena said.

“We all lined up by Interstate 84 and started going into the woods. I noticed a glare on the ground — the sun was going down, and it was Garrow’s glasses on his forehead, completely under brush.

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