It may be fair to say that George Putt had two strikes against him from the moment of his birth. His mother and his father!
His father was a petty criminal and drifter, frequently away from home and brutal to his children when around. One of the man’s numerous arrests, on June 4, 1946, involved a charge of cruelty to a minor. His victim? Little George – still shy of three months old – had been severely beaten with a leather strap.
George Putt’s family moved repeatedly throughout the latter 1940’s and the early 1950’s.
In January 1947, George was dropped off with a family friend in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he remained, without word from his parents, for the next year.
In 1954, when both his parents went to jail for forgery, Putt and his six siblings were sent to live with their grandparents in Richmond, Virginia.
Putt and an elder brother were arrested in November 1957, after shooting out a neighbor’s windows with a stolen air rifle.
Off To The Orphanage For George Putt
Fed up, his grandparents sent George Putt and four of his brothers to a rural orphan’s school, where fundamentalist religion was enforced with frequent beatings. George handled discipline poorly.
With a brother, Clifford, he twice ran away from the school, and was rewarded with expulsion on his second failed attempt. Returned to the custody of his grandparents, George was packed off to the Richmond Home for Boys. Kicked in the forehead during a football game, George Putt was knocked unconscious for “many minutes,” and may have sustained permanent damage.
In months to come, George began sleepwalking with his eyes open, suffering blackouts that alternated with violent seizures, throwing furniture and ripping towel racks from the walls, professing amnesia after the fact.
Real Trouble Surfaces For George Putt
The summer after his injury, Richmond police arrested George Putt for attacking two young girls, one of whom was stripped naked and forced to preform oral sex on him. Arrested at his grandparents’ home, he was delivered to juvenile authorities. Psychological tests revealed Putt’s “morbid preoccupation with blood and gore,” a fact that led authorities to consider placing George in a mental institution.
Terrified by the prospect, George Putt fled from custody one night, clad only in his undershorts, teaming up with brother Clifford for several days before he was recaptured. Diagnosed as a “sociopathic personality,” created by “almost unbelievable physical and emotional deprivation,” George Putt was still ruled fit for trial on a sodomy charge. He escaped from custody again, on December 22, 1961, two weeks later, he abducted a 30-year-old Richmond woman at knife point, robbed her of $35, and raped her. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but George Putt fled Virginia, hoping to locate his father somewhere in Mexico.
The Crimes Continue
On January 13, 1962, he kidnapped a woman from Laredo, Texas, at gunpoint, forcing her to drive him out of town, escaping on foot when she deliberately crashed her car. Two days later, Putt climbed through the window of a Laredo apartment, abducting the female tenant by threatening to kill her children if she failed to cooperate. George was driving the woman out of town in her own car when he spotted a police van and crashed, fleeing on foot.
Captured the next day, as he emerged from a local theater, he spent thirteen months in the Webb County jail. Transferred to the Terrace School, in Laredo, on February 28, 1963, George Putt escaped in October, was recaptured and sent to the more secure Hilltop School, where he passed his eighteenth birthday.
In June 1964, following exposure of his plan to kidnap the school’s librarian and escape in her car, George Putt was transferred to an “adjustment center.” Diagnosed as possessing the “earmarks of a psychopath in his makeup,” he was shipped on from there to the maximum-security juvenile lockup at Gatesville. A 1965 report termed him psychotic, but it made no difference in the end. George Putt was routinely discharged from custody on his twenty-first birthday, in 1967.
George Putt Goes Home Again
Returning to Tupelo, where his grandparents now lived, George found work as a hospital orderly. A few days later, he was fired for stealing $100 from a nurse’s handbag, but he escaped prosecution by repaying the money. From Tupelo, he moved back to his native New Orleans, and was there charged with stealing a checkbook from a room at the Roosevelt Hotel.
On May 5, 1967, he was picked up for pilfering $46 from the till of a local cafe, but the owner declined to prosecute when his money was recovered from Putt’s stocking. In the fall of 1967, George Putt married a Mississippi woman, insisting on six to eight bouts of intercourse every night, although he rarely climaxed. In public, he erupted into violent fits of jealousy whenever his wife spoke to another man, including co-workers, and by 1968 his violence was not confined to his marriage.
On October 16, 1968, police in Memphis, Tennessee, arrested Putt after he forced his way into a black woman’s car and began beating her with his fists. Settling in Jackson, Mississippi, with his brother Clifford and their wives, Putt tried to rape his mother-in-law on three separate occasions in early 1969.
The First Murder for George Putt
Police believe George Putt committed his first murder in Jackson, shortly after the third rape attempt, when a socially-prominent bachelor was slain on April 27, 1969. Rumored to participate in homosexual affairs, the victim was stabbed fifteen times at his home, a short distance from the gas station where Putt was employed. George was never charged in the crime, but authorities remain convinced of his involvement.
George and his wife moved back to Memphis in the summer of 1969, and George launched a one-man reign of terror shortly after their arrival.
On August 14, Roy and Bernalyn Dumas were found dead in their home, the woman spread-eagle on her bed, gagged, wrists and ankles bound to the bedposts. Both victims had been bludgeoned and strangled; Bernalyn Dumas had also been raped, her anus and vagina afterward mutilated with a pair of surgical scissors. Saliva samples taken at the scene revealed a blood type different from that of the victims. On August 25, Leila Jackson, an 80-year-old widow, was found strangled in her home, a nylon stocking tied around her neck, genitals mutilated with a butcher knife.
Four days later, Glenda Harden, 21, was abducted and murdered in Riverside Park, stabbed fourteen times as she lay helpless, with her hands bound behind her back. Discovery of her body on August 30th touched off a panic in Memphis, as police scrambled to identify the killer.
George Putt Becomes A Person Of Interest
On September 9th, an anonymous caller fingered George Putt as a suspect in the crimes, but detectives were still muddling through other leads two days later, when the slayer struck again. Mary Pickens was ambushed inside her apartment, returning from work, and stabbed nineteen times by a man who wielded his knife with desperate speed. Neighbors heard her screams and called police, providing officers with the description of a young man spotted running from the scene. The suspect led patrolmen and civilians on a wild, winding chase before two officers ran down George Putt, his clothing smeared with blood, and took him into custody. Before the day was out, he had confessed to all five homicides, and thereby sealed his own fate.
Convicted of the Pickens murder on October 27, 1970, George Putt was sentenced to die, his punishment altered to a term of 99 years when the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in 1972. A double conviction in the Dumas case, during April 1973, added 398 years to his term, making George Putt a local record-holder, with accumulated prison time of 497 years.
Unable to contain his mirth, Putt giggled as the judge pronounced his sentence.