‘Garrow’ to premier
JOHNSTOWN — Serial rapist and murderer Robert Francis Garrow, who haunted the lives of those in the Adirondacks 40 years ago, will be haunting select movie theaters with the upcoming premiere of the film, “Garrow.”
The film — by Adirondack Films LLC and writer, director and producer Lori Bailey — is based on true horrifying events of serial rapist and murderer Garrow, who led police on what was at the time, the largest manhunt in the state.
“He was the real boogeyman,” said Tom Halloran, the actor who portrayed his father, Mike Halloran, a state trooper who was involved in the manhunt.
Bailey said Garrow was born in Dannamora in 1937 and grew up in Mineville. She said he was a neighbor to her grandmother and her dad. They went to school together and worked in the mines together. She said the Garrow family still lives in their original house.
Bailey said the film is an accurate portrayal of the series of events with the exception of changing the names of some of the victims to protect their families who still live in upstate New York.
“Garrow” was filmed at the actual sites where Garrow’s crimes took place and features several local actors.
Local actors include Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino who plays a judge, Dan Halloran, who is portraying the trooper who shot Garrow, Tom Halloran portrays his father Mike Halloran, a state trooper who was involved in Garrow’s original capture and manhunt, Gloversville Enlarged School District Superintendent Dave Halloran portrays the commander of the final manhunt and Dominic Arena, a corrections officer who was shot by Garrow, is portraying himself.
“It was personal for us,” said Dan Halloran. “We grew up hearing about it because my father was involved in both manhunts. Growing up in Northville, everyone talked about it. He was like the boogeyman. It was an honor to be in the movie. He was not a nice guy, but it’s a true story and it’s a story that’s overdue of being told.”
Giardino said it was bitter-sweet being in a movie based on a serial killer.
“The bitter part is, there’s still a lot of family and friends of the young people who were killed back then. Knowing that this movie is going to peel the scab off a deep wound that’s been there for years is bitter,” Giardino said. “The sweet part was it was very interesting to be involved in the making of a movie.”
He said he was also able to bring his 20 years of experience as a judge into the court scenes.
Garrow, who died on Sept. 11, 1978, did almost eight years in prison for rape in the 1960s.
A 12-day manhunt for Garrow began in 1973 following the murder of Phil Domblewski, who was one of four campers Garrow kidnapped from their Wells campsite. The other three campers managed to escape and reach police. One of the campers was able to identify Garrow through mug shots.
Prior to the manhunt, Garrow had also murdered three others — Alicia Hauck in Syracuse and Daniel Porter and his girlfriend Susan Petz in Mineville. Bailey said Petz’s body was discovered in a mineshaft where Garrow had kept her for three days and discarded her body there.
“He was living in Syracuse at time of murder. He killed a girl in Syracuse, then traveled up towards Mineville where he killed Susan Petz and Daniel Porter,” Tom Halloran said. “He traveled back down to Wells and he killed the fourth person. He abducted four kids — three boys and a girl — tied them all to trees started killing the first kid and the other three escaped. When the one kid made it to Wells, he called the police and my father was the one who responded.”
Garrow was captured and sentenced to a 25-year to life sentence at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. Garrow faked his own paralysis and was transferred to Fishkill Facility in 1978 where his son smuggled him a handgun and Garrow escaped from the facility.
“My father was in on the whole 12-day manhunt,” Tom Halloran said. “[Garrow] was wounded in 1973 by an ECON officer after a 12-day manhunt. He killed four kids in a one to two week period during that spree and then went to prison for five years and he faked that he was disabled. His son sneaks him in a pistol in a bucket of fried chicken.”
Daniel Halloran said the movie doesn’t glorify Garrow at all.
“It really affects a lot of people who remember him — people know automatically when the hear the name Garrow, they know the story and they remember the fear of it,” Daniel Halloran said. “There was a widespread of panic.”
The premiere for “Garrow” will be held at the Johnstown Movieplex on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. VIP tickets to the premiere are $100 and include a private screening along with cast and crew members. Actors who starred in the film including Jay Alan Christianson, Mark Valley, Terri Garber, Richard Wadingham and Philip Casnoff may also attend the premiere.
General admission tickets are available for $20 at the Johnstown Movieplex and Emerald Cinemas in Amsterdam. Beginning Dec. 2 the film will be screened at both the Johnstown and Amsterdam theaters for three weeks.