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.
“Something moved. He popped up on his supposedly paralyzed left side.”
And Garrow had a gun, Arena said.
“When he came up out of the bushes, he came up firing his gun,” he continued. “I got hit. I was screaming, ‘He’s got a gun.’
“The return fire did it.”
Garrow was hit multiple times by shots fired by four other members of the search group, and he fell back dead.
“If he’d had his glasses on, I’d probably be dead; he didn’t aim, he just shot,” Arena said.
A State Police helicopter transported Arena to the hospital.
“He got me in the left leg. (The bullet) traveled through my body, hit my pelvis bone and lodged in my right hip,” he said.
“I didn’t know how bad I was hit. I was the only one hit.”
He’d actually been severely wounded by the shot from Garrow’s pistol.
“I was rushed into surgery. All I remember is waking up the next morning. I was in the hospital 10 days.”
He said the wound still bothers him, 35 years later.
“It hurts every day. I’m reminded of it every day when I wake up.”
Garrow had been confined to a wheelchair since his capture, claiming that his wounds left him unable to walk. The autopsy performed after his death showed he actually had no paralytic injuries.
Arena was presented with a Medal of Valor from the state for his role in the apprehension of Garrow.
While he was recovering in the hospital, he received a call from Marilyn Hauck, Alicia’s mother.
Arena said he has always regretted not being able to answer the phone that day, since Mrs. Hauck died in 2004.
The troopers guarding him took the call and told him she said: “Thank you for Syracuse.”
Email Lohr McKinstry:email@example.com