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El Paso sheriff's deputies search home of woman charged with murder in 36-year-old cold case

By Krystal Klei, Reporter
Published On: Feb 08 2013 03:54:39 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 10:00:43 PM CST

Krystal Klei / ABC-7

El Paso County Sheriff's deputies enter the home of Lisbeth Garrett Thursday. Garrett has been charged with murder in a 36-year-old cold case.

EL PASO, Texas -

El Paso County Sheriff's deputies on Friday searched the home of Lisbeth Ann Garrett, the woman charged this week in the 1977 murder of her husband, Army Maj. Chester Garrett.

Sheriff's deputies entered the home on Friday afternoon in haz-mat-type suits. A total of 10 officials were at the house, including 7 vehicles, one crime scene van, and one crime scene unit command truck. 

The deputies donned boots, gloves, full body suits, and even respiration masks as they entered the home. They carried with them flashlights, and a few other investigation tools. The deputies didn't bring anything out of the house when exiting.

ABC-7 spoke with neighbors who said there were rumors Lisbeth Ann Garrett may have been a hoarder.

"Rumor has it she lived on this corner of the garage, the inside is not livable," said neighbor Sid Searcy. 

But the neighborhood is not accustom to such a scene.

"I love it, it's an escape from the desert for me," neighbor Sharrii Helberg said about her neighborhood. "It's close and convenient, yet private and quiet."

When asked what her reaction was to the arrest, she said, "I don't know, I guess it's pretty shocking, especially since as long as it's been."

Other neighbors ABC-7 spoke with said Garrett kept to herself, and didn't keep in contact with the neighbors. Two neighbors told us Garrett would leave the home for extended periods of time, and had only recently returned to the home.

 

In 2006, the El Paso Sheriff's Office resumed the investigation and continued the case and developing new information.

On Feb. 7, 2013, El Paso Sheriff's Office homicide detectives travelled to Knoxville, Tenn. and with the assistance of the Knoxville Police Department, 54-year-old Roger Evan Garrett was placed under arrest and charged with murder.

Roger Evan Garrett was the stepson of Maj. Garrett. At the same time, sheriff's detectives took Lisbeth Ann Garrett into custody. Sheriff's officials said Lisbeth Ann Garrett was Maj. Garrett's estranged wife at the time of the alleged homicide, into custody also charging her with murder.

Lisbeth Ann Garrett, 74, taught at Eastwood High School from 1984 to 2005.

On Jan. 4, 1977, the body of Maj. Garrett, 35, was found in the back seat of his red 1972 Volkswagen Beetle near what was then the county landfill off Loop 375, one-half mile south of Zaragoza Road in the Mission Valley. Several footprints and another set of car tracks were found in the area. Maj. Garrett was a Green Beret and much decorated military hero who had served multiple campaigns in war zones. He was married to Lisbeth Ann Garrett and the father of two children.

The day before his body was found, Maj. Garrett left his quarters on Fort Bliss in a hurry, saying he had to take care of something urgent. He went to his family’s home, which was then located at 1349 Backus in the Cielo Vista neighborhood.

The autopsy revealed that he died of a skull fracture but he was also stabbed 10 times, probably after death or losing consciousness.

Maj. Garrett was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for valorous actions on Feb. 3, 1967. According to an announcement regarding the honor, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross "for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Detachment A-341, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. Captain Garrett distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 3 February 1967 while serving as Special Forces advisor to a Vietnamese strike force on a search and destroy mission near the Cambodian border. Early in the morning, his unit was savagely attacked and pinned down by a North Vietnamese battalion firing machine guns, mortars and small arms. Completely disregarding his own safety, Captain Garrett dashed to the point of heaviest fighting to assess the situation and coordinate the defenses. He saw an enemy position manned by four hostile soldiers placing heavy fire on his men and charged through a hail of bullets, killing the insurgents with accurate hand grenade and rifle fire. He quickly established a hasty perimeter and moved back to bring reinforcements to the forward positions. His Vietnamese counterpart was killed by the intense barrage and the men began to withdraw, but he stood up in the midst of the raging firefight and rallied his men to fight furiously against the determined attackers. Seeing two men fighting against a numerically superior element, he dashed to their side and helped kill ten enemy soldiers within ten meters of his position. Supporting aircraft were unable to pinpoint his location in the dense jungle, so he moved into the open to direct them with a hand-held smoke grenade. Under cover of artillery and air strikes, he led a withdrawal to a landing zone and personally carried a wounded comrade more than six hundred meters on his back. Again, disregarding the savage fire, he led a carrying party back to the battle site and recovered all friendly casualties before leaving the area. Captain Garrett's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army."

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