34: THE HUSBAND DID IT post thumbnail image

Season 3 starts off with a story that is probably not a surprise to anyone. When a woman’s body is found on the side of the road in Kentucky, it doesn’t take investigators long to put 2 and 2 together. 


On Sunday, March 11, 1984, a man driving on interstate 71 near Verona, KY spots what looks like a plaid flannel blanket on the side of the road. He pulls over to look at the blanket. He is thinking, hey, you know what, I could use a good car blanket and maybe I just found a good one. Instead, he discovers, this is not a blanket, but instead it is a women’s night gown, and the woman is still wearing it. The motorist contacts the police in Boone County who come out to the scene. The woman was found wearing a full-length flannel nightgown and knee-high socks. There is not much evidence at the scene beside the highway. They look around to see if they can find a purse or anything telling them who she is, but there is nothing. There also does not appear to be any tire tracks or usable footprints.

The woman’s body is taken to the morgue for an autopsy and hopefully identification. When the autopsy is performed, they discover the woman was shot in the back with a shotgun. I am so sad for her. She is all comfy and cozy in her flannel pj’s like she is ready to get into bed and then she is shot in the back! Authorities end up needing to use dental records to identify her as Lillian Irene Garber on Thursday, March 15th. Lillian is a 26-year-old woman from Brookville, OH.

Lillian had not been reported as missing, so authorities initially believe that Lillian was killed shortly before her body was discovered on the side of the road. So, let’s get to know a little about Lillian. There is not much that I could find. She is 26 years old. She grew up in a small town called Wirtz, Virginia where her parents and most of her family were still living. Lillian had 4 sisters and 2 brothers (Yvonne, Karen, Addie, and Gaytha, plus Kermit and Keith). Lillian lived with her husband in a brick farmhouse in Brookville, Ohio. Her husband Larry ran a farm on the property where they lived. Lillian was described as a free spirit by her friends and family. They said she would run off with friends and stay gone for a couple of days, and then return home to her husband. She did not seem to love the life of a farmer’s wife. She was a fun-loving life of the party kind of girl.   

Obviously after the body was identified authorities were interested in talking to her 29-year-old husband named Larry Garber. Detectives speak with her large family and friends, and they are told in September the year before Larry informed them that Lillian had come home from a night out and told him she was leaving him and moving to Kentucky. Most of her friends and family were not concerned with this story given that Lillian had made it clear she did not like farm life. Neighbors of the couple said they did not have much interaction with Larry and Lillian, but they were nice and kept to themselves. (eek).

When the investigators show up at the farmhouse to talk with Larry, they notice a large upright freezer in the couple’s home. This catches the eye of the detectives right away because Lillian’s body was frozen when she was found. Detectives make the connection to the freezer right away, because even though it is March, the temperatures had not been at freezing level for a while. The detectives start to put two and two together and realize Larry had stored her body in that freezer. But they do not let on right away that they feel a connection. Larry is cooperative and answers their questions.

Later they ask Larry to come into the station to answer some questions, which he willingly does. When they get him into an interrogation room, they begin to question him about where Lillian had gone to, when she was last seen, and finally they ask him how long he had stored her body in the freezer. Larry confesses. He tells them he was tired of her running off and cheating on him, so he shot her in the back and stored her body in the freezer for 6 months before taking a trip down to Kentucky to dump her body on the side of the road. He obviously hoped it would take loner to find her, and maybe thinking she would have thawed out all the way. So, the police would think the shooting had happened right before she was found and thinking she had moved to Kentucky months before he would be off the hook. Did not work out that way did it, Larry?

So, police get a search warrant for his house where they seized the freezer and other pieces of evidence. Once Larry was arrested and charged there was question on where he would stand trial. Typically, the trial is held in the location the body is found, because that is the greatest evidence. But in this case, with Montgomery County officers assisting the Kentucky police it was determined the trial would take place in the Montogomery County court system.

In July 1984, Larry pleads innocent by reason of insanity. The court ordered him to undergo evaluations for competency before each hearing. A Jury trial was set to begin February 26, 1985. But on February 21st, 1985, Larry Garber pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of Voluntary manslaughter. The court accepted the plea deal. He was sentenced to 10=25 years with no parole until he has served 9 years. He also must serve a mandatory 3 years for the weapons charge. Lillian’s family was given the opportunity to accept or reject the plea offer. Garber’s attorney continued to maintain that he had to be insane at the time of her murder because “there is on reasonable explanation for that bizarre behavior.” And that is the murder of Lillian Garber.

Larry served about 20 years of his prison sentence and was release from prison in the early 2000’s (around 2004 or 05). He moved back to the Northern Dayton area where he lives and works on a farm.

I got my information from articles that appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Dayton Daily news in March 1984 and February 1985.