Sworn to Silence: The Truth Behind Robert Garrow and the Missing Bodies’ Case


Two small-town attorneys who outraged the nation defending a hated man; the detective who desperately sought answers to the whereabouts of missing women; the unveiling of a modern-day serial killer; and the author who witnessed the drama firsthand.

In the summer of 1973—following a series of murders and the disappearance of a young Boston University woman in the Adirondack Mountains—revered New York State Police Senior Investigator Henry McCabe leads the largest manhunt in state history to catch suspect Robert Garrow. In Syracuse, New York, Garrow’s attorney, Frank Armani, watches closely. Armani has successfully defended Garrow in the past, thus keeping the parolee from returning to prison, and now feels partly responsible for the murders. In an unusual move, he issues a public plea for his client to turn himself in and let the legal process play out before anyone else is killed.

McCabe suspects Garrow, a sexual predator, is keeping twenty-one-year-old Susan Petz as a sex slave. McCabe must capture Garrow alive in hopes of learning Petz’ whereabouts and saving her life.

After a two-week pursuit, which shuts down the tourist season, McCabe nabs his man. But before he can elicit Petz’ location, Armani and his friend, attorney Frank Belge, step in and keep Garrow from talking. With Garrow silent, McCabe switches strategies and places the burden of the missing woman’s whereabouts on the conscience of the two attorneys, both fathers of teenaged girls themselves.

This places the lawyers in an unprecedented moral dilemma: should they tell McCabe or the woman’s parents where she is, and where other victims are, or should they protect their publicly-hated client and remain silent? Their decisions and actions lead to a landmark legal case studied in law schools today.