In a truly shocking true crime, a man manipulated his “best friend” into brutally killing his pregnant wife and their unborn child!
On the evening of May 16, 1998, Todd Garton and his friend Dale Gordon arrived at the house they shared in Cottonwood, California. They found Todd’s 28-year-old wife, Carole, who was eight months pregnant, bleeding, and unresponsive.
She appeared to have been shot several times. Todd attempted CPR while Dale called 911. But by the time help arrived, she and her unborn baby were declared deceased.
“The image of Mrs. Garton lying there dead in her very pronounced pregnant state is an image that I will have in my mind for the rest of my days,” McGregor Scott, former District Attorney, Shasta County, said about the shocking case that haunts him to this day.
An autopsy revealed that Carole was shot five times by a .44 caliber firearm – three times in the head, once in the side, and once in the leg.
Detectives learned that Todd and Carole met via the indie music scene in Oregon, where he had visions of rock stardom that went nowhere. They moved to California and married, and he enlisted in the military. After his discharge, Todd ran a fencing company. Carole worked in the insurance field and was eager to start a family.
Todd, Carole, Gordon, and another friend, Norman Daniels, had attended a gun show the day of the murder. The three men shared military backgrounds. Carole left early because she felt tired, and Daniels offered to drive her home in her Jeep. So, where was her vehicle? Where was Daniels?
Detectives stationed at Daniels’ home brought him in for questioning when he arrived there in a cab.
Daniels said he and Carole had watched a movie. He used her Jeep to return the film. But why did he leave her vehicle in a parking lot and take a taxi home? Investigators got a warrant to search his home.
At his residence, they found bloody clothing, ammunition, spent shells, and a .44 revolver. When detectives confronted Daniels with what they found, he spilled all.
“He started giving information that he was responsible for Carole’s shooting,” said Steven Berg, a retired Shasta County Sheriff’s Department detective. “It came out so quickly it was a surprise.”
He admitted he shot Carole, but when pressed why he did it, he alleged it was on behalf of someone else.
“I was a killer for hire,” he said.
But even he had no idea who really had hired him and why.
An “Organization of Assassins”
As the case unraveled, it was revealed that Norman Daniels believed he was part of a cult-like “organization of assassins” linked to the CIA and the IRA known as “The Company,” to which he, Todd Garton, and mutual ex-military friend Dale Gordon also belonged.
Daniels believed he received “wax sealed orders” months before her murder to kill Carole because she had somehow betrayed the IRA. He told authorities by “the code of the Company” once he had broken the seal on the envelope, that was it; he accepted the hit, and there was no turning back.
But as it turned out, there weren’t any spy-novel black ops. “The Company” was a complete fabrication and fantasy of Todd Garton, who used his friends’ loyalties and “military ethics” to eliminate people he himself wanted dead, in this case, his wife and unborn son, not because they were terrorists or posed any threat to national security, but because he was having an affair with another woman, who eventually was also charged in the bizarre conspiracy.
As they put it in their case against Todd, prosecutors emphasized that Carole had married “this crazy man and was the most immediate and direct victim of his wanting to live a bigger, grander, faster life than he was capable of.”
“The people who he manipulated thought he was a messiah,” said DA Scott.
They paid the price for that cultish devotion. Norman Daniels received a 50-year sentence. Lynn Noyes, the woman that Todd was having an affair with, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to 25 years. Dale Gordon, meanwhile, served eight years and seven months of his 10-year sentence.
“If I could say one thing to Carole, I would say I miss you,” he told producers. “I’m sorry I wasn’t your protector at the time.”
Todd Garton was convicted for masterminding the murder of his wife and unborn baby. He was sentenced to death and is currently on death row.