Crimetracker: Pair charged for 1977 murder of U.S. Army officer

Maj. Chester Garrett

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The El Paso Sheriff's Office believes it finally got its man. On Thursday, detectives came to Knoxville and, along with members of the Knoxville Police Dept., arrested a 54 year-old man for the 1977 murder of a highly decorated U.S. Army officer.

It was January 1977 when deputies found Major Chester Garrett in his Volkswagon Beetle in El Paso County Texas, near the Mexican border. He'd been stabbed ten times and hit in the back of the head.

"In 1977, investigators opened a murder investigation in reference to the case. Unfortunately, they had exhausted all of their leads, and the case went in-active," said Sergeant Jim Belknap, with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

In 2006, the case was reopened and new tips came in. Now, 36 years after Garrett's murder, his step-son, Roger Garrett - who was 18 at the time - and Major Garrett's estranged wife, Lizbeth Garrett, are charged with the crime. Roger had moved to Knoxville.

"We were able to talk to him on the phone, and through some conversations with him we were able to actually get him to come here to the safety building. He did not know why he was coming here as far as for the homicide. But once he got here, we were able to take him into custody," said Darrell DeBusk, with the Knoxville Police Department.

Garrett's neighbor can't believe it:

"He was always very nice - he always rode his bikes with his wife. Just always very nice and pleasant," said Lisa Matichak, who lived next door to him.

El Paso County deputies picked up Lizbeth Garrett in Texas. They couldn't say what finally led to the arrests - just that the two were always persons of interest.

"We're extremely glad we were able to bring the case this far, especially for family members of the victim," said Belknap.

Lizbeth Garrett is now 74 years old. Roger Garrett is 54. They're both under $5,000,000 bonds. Garrett's extradition hearing is set for Thursday at 9 a.m.

Roger (left) and Lizbeth Garrett

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