365 Days of Texas True Crime: Nameless Soul
Tawny the Rock Chick here, your resident true crime aficionado. As interesting as I find true crime from all over to be, it’s the local stuff that I can really dig into. You could say I’m a bit obsessed with researching stories of murder and missing persons from this area. I’ve spent countless hours reading old newspapers articles, requesting files on cases and sifting through data cases online regarding homicide cases that you probably didn’t even know existed. This area holds more sordid secrets than you may know and I’m going to tell you about all of them, one day at a time. It’s 365 Days of Texas True Crime and today's story goes like this…..
Around this time (May 4th) in 1977 a trio of snake hunters found more than they were looking for one hot west Texas afternoon among the mesquite bushes and caliche. The decomposing body of what was once a person, lay right where it had been tossed in the dirt and dead grass. A life taken and the vessel of that life driven out to a field where no one was watching and dumped like an old couch. Not rare is it to find things dumped in fields this way here in west Texas, couches, old broken appliances, rusted swing sets even, but not bodies. Much like the unwanted items that get thrown out in the middle of the tumble weeks, this body too was broken. Smashed jaw and a crushed skull, a rock covered in blood lay close by, the likely culprit of the injuries. Murdered, no doubt, and left out in a field on a ranch outside of town.
If you’re unlucky enough to be apart of the law enforcement department called out to the scene you’re first thought is on the phone call to the individual who made the missing persons report. It’s a phone call you dread making. The scene you’ve been called out to holds answers to a question that a group of family and loved ones have been looking for, by the looks of it for about a month or so. According to the reports from the medical examiners the body had been out in the elements for over a month or so. The body had long brown hair and was found wearing black short shorts, uniquely designed underwear, one sandal and two cheap costume type jewelry rings on the right hand. A white blouse was found near the body. It was obvious by the clothing and the hair that it was likely this was what was left of a woman, a small woman. So now the somber ride back to the station had to have been filled with thoughts of a mother looking for her daughter, a husband waiting to hear that his wife had left him but she’s been found somewhere far away and she’s fine, children asking when mommy will be home, friends and family missing their loved one, waiting for any information on what happened to the person their all searching for….and the call that has to be made that will steal all their hopes of seeing their her ever again. Files are searched and searched again but to the surprise of law enforcement there are no reports that match up with what they’ve found in that quite, empty field. Surely someone is looking for this person? Surely her absence has at least been noticed by those who knew her? No, a body of a female is found in early May, 1977, northeast of Odessa in a ranch field, and no one knows who it is. The body is autopsied, a new scientific method is used in order to try and obtain fingerprints, maybe they can identify her that way.
Until that time, this nameless soul must be afforded the same common decency as anyone else and on June 7th at an Odessa Cemetery a minister says a few words over a paupers grave. Although law enforcement didn't find any paper work on a missing person they did however find a match to fingerprints and minor offense in July. A 19 year old girl was caught shoplifting from Gibson's Discount Center (for those of you who remember that place it had a variety of stuff).
The girl was caught stealing a mirror, nail polish, eye shadow, bobby pinks and a brush and comb combo set that was in total worth about $5. The police blotter section of the newspaper printed her name and the information about her crime on March 20th, 1977. The next day her name was in the paper when she showed up to court to pay the fine she was assessed, a little over $100, makes me wonder why she stole the cosmetics worth around five bucks but the very next day was able to pay her fine of a little over a bill.... Dorothy Marie Garlington, or Marie, as some knew her on the dancing circuit, was just 19 years old when she was murdered and forgotten until some young, unlucky snake hunters happened across what was left of her. The investigation into her disappearance and murder would reveal that she was last seen alive about a month before her remains were found, just about this time in 1977 (May 4th). She hadn't been in this area long, about six months and her last known address, or more so, the last place she was known to have been staying was the Branton Hotel and Apartments. She was what they called exotic dancers back then, a "Go-Go" dancer. She apparently didn't make many friends but was known to have a few gentlemen callers, none of which seemed to miss her presence enough to report her missing. As people who had contact with her were interviewed it was quickly becoming clear just how small of a footprint this young lady left. She didn't have any friends to speak of but a manager of one of the bars she danced at said he remembers a boyfriend who had said he was going to killer her and was known to beat her up pretty often. She had an ex-husband, Darryl Garlington, but they had been divorced for a year and was living in Louisiana at the time. I won't repeat it here because I found it wildly disrespectful but the articles I read did not speak kindly of Marie and that's unfortunate because regardless of what she did for a living, she was a person and she mattered. Her parents didn't want to speak to the media, and I don't blame them. Dorothy Marie Garlington didn't live a long life, and what she lived of the last part of it sounded pretty hard. Someone beat her to death, crushing her jaw bone and bashing her head in with a rock and then tossing her out in a lonely field. You wont find her case on a list of unsolved crimes, in fact, you may not find her name anywhere on the internet unless you have access to old newspaper archives. Her murder was never solved, I'm not sure how much it was even looked into. I wonder if her grave has a name on it now or if she remains a nameless soul.