Extradition hearing set in Fort Bliss soldier's 1977 slaying

By ADRIANA M. CHAVEZ | El Paso (Texas) Times | Published: February 9, 2013

A judge in Tennessee will decide next week whether a man arrested in his stepfather's 1977 slaying in El Paso will be extradited to face a murder charge.

Roger Evan Garrett, 54, and his mother, Lisbeth Garrett, 74, were arrested by El Paso County sheriff's deputies in the death of Maj. Chester Garrett, a decorated Army officer stationed at Fort Bliss.

Chester Garrett's body was found inside his Volkswagen Beetle parked in a desert area off Americas Avenue on Jan. 4, 1977, by a passing motorist. He was wearing a sweatsuit.

Investigators said Chester Garrett, who was 35 when he was killed, suffered a skull fracture and was stabbed 10 times -- while unconscious or after he died. According to an online blog post dated April 2012, apparently written by a family member, Chester Garrett was "bludgeoned from behind, stabbed in the back," which might indicate he had been ambushed.

At the time of his death, he was estranged from his wife, Lisbeth Garrett. The couple had one son, Patrick Garrett. Roger Garrett is Lisbeth Garrett's son and Chester Garrett's stepson.

Roger Garrett is scheduled to appear at an extradition hearing Thursday before a judge in Knox County, Tenn. He was taken into custody by Knoxville police after they tried contacting him at his apartment.

"His wife was in the apartment. She indicated he had left and had gone out of the area for a job interview," said Darrell DuBusk, spokesman for the Knoxville Police Department.

"We were able to contact him on his cellphone and told him we needed to talk to him on another issue."

DuBusk said Roger Garrett stopped by the Police Department. Once he arrived, DuBusk said, officers took him into custody and led him to a room to speak to El Paso County sheriff's investigators.

Roger Garrett had apparently gone out of state for the job interview after being laid off from his job in vehicle financing three or four days before his arrest, DuBusk said.

"He had been here (in Knoxville) no longer than four months," DuBusk said. "I'm sure he was getting ready to move again."

DuBusk said he didn't know where Roger Garrett had lived before moving to Knoxville, but an online records search indicates he and his family moved several times during the past several years and had addresses throughout Texas, Louisiana and Georgia. Roger Garrett's listed address, according to Knox County court records, was in Santa Teresa, N.M.

Federal court records show Roger Garrett filed for bankruptcy in 1998, but documents related to the filing were not immediately available Friday.

Lisbeth Garrett is retired from the Ysleta Independent School District and previously worked as a speech teacher at Eastwood High School. She filed for bankruptcy in 1997, and El Paso County court records show city officials filed a tax suit against her in April 2010. The tax suit was dropped about two months later.

Lisbeth Garrett was arrested Thursday evening in El Paso at her home in the 8900 block of Gallic Court. On Friday, sheriff's investigators spent most of the day looking for evidence at her East Side home. Many of them used white protective suits.

She remained in the El Paso County Jail on Friday. Her bond is set at $5 million. Sheriff's homicide investigators declined to release any additional information on the case Friday.

Investigators had said Chester Garrett had lived in El Paso for five years when he was killed. Although he owned a home in East El Paso, he might have been living on post at the time he was slain.

Chester Garrett, a Green Beret, served five tours in Vietnam and had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in November 1967 while serving with an Army Special Forces Group.

According to an online biography, he "rallied his men" to fight against a group of North Vietnamese attackers, helped kill several enemy soldiers, carried a wounded soldier on his back for more than 600 meters and led a group back to the battle site to recover dead soldiers.

In El Paso, Chester Garrett coached basketball and boys' baseball and was known for his large stature but kind heart, said Herman Delgado, 49, who used to play for Garrett's little league baseball team.

"I always thought he was awesome because as huge as he was, he always treated us with kindness and respect," Delgado said.

Delgado said that while he was shocked to learn about the arrests of Lisbeth and Roger Garrett, he always suspected they might have been involved in Chester Garrett's death. He said he personally witnessed Roger and Lisbeth Garrett orally abuse Chester Garrett and said they often disrespected him.


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