A man known as the "Stocking Strangler" was executed Thursday for the rape-slayings of three older women in attacks that terrorized a Georgia city four decades ago. Carlton Gary, 67, was put to death by lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson. He was the first inmate executed by Georgia this year. Strapped to a gurney with his eyes closed, Gary didn't respond when the warden asked if he wished to make a final statement or have a prayer recited, the AP reports. Gary was convicted in 1986 on three counts each of malice murder, rape, and burglary for the 1977 deaths of 89-year-old Florence Scheible, 69-year-old Martha Thurmond, and 74-year-old Kathleen Woodruff.
Though charged only in those deaths, prosecutors say Gary attacked nine elderly women in the west Georgia city of Columbus from September 1977 to April 1978. Most were choked with stockings, and seven of them died. Police arrested Gary six years after the last killing, in May 1984. He became a suspect when a gun stolen during a 1977 burglary in the upscale neighborhood where all but one of the victims lived was traced to him. Prosecutors also presented evidence that they said connected Gary to similar crimes in New York state. The State Board of Pardons and Paroles declined Wednesday to spare his life after holding a closed-door hearing.