Betty Garrison Murder: Where Are Allen Goul, Shannon and Melissa Garrison Now?

Image Credit: Allen Goul/WLOX

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Twisted Sisters: House Rules’ follows the brutal murder of Betty Garrison, who was killed in her home in Gulfport, Mississippi, in July 1992. The police managed to nab the perpetrators within hours of the murder, and they were soon brought to justice. If you are intrigued to know more about the case as well as the identities and current whereabouts of the perpetrator, we’ve you covered. 

How Did Betty Garrison Die?

Betty Garrison was born in 1947 in Mississippi and got married to 27-year-old John Garrison in 1972. He wrote poems for her and worked as a computer and appliance salesman while she, 25, was a social worker. She got pregnant with her first daughter, Shannon, in 1975 and quit work to become a stay-at-home mom. The couple’s second daughter, Melissa, was born in 1977. After 12 years of marriage, Betty filed for divorce in 1984, citing habitual cruel treatment from his spouse.

John moved out and shifted to New York, where he pursued a career of being a pilot, and Betty had to move in with the girls at a much smaller home in the same neighborhood of Gulfport, Mississippi. She started working as a secretary for the United Methodist Church and did taxes for people on the side to scrape enough money for her children. She met Herbert Wilson, and both started dating for a long time up until July 1992 when police officers and medical respondents arrived at the scene to find Betty dead.

At about 6:30 am on July 7, 1992, the Gulfport Police found Betty’s body in the rear bedroom of her house on 41st street. The medical examiner found obvious signs of trauma to the neck and puncture wounds in the chest area and immediately suspected foul play. Her daughters were the ones who called 911 after finding their mother in that state. Her autopsy report stated that she was stabbed and choked to death. 

Who Killed Betty Garrison?

While investigators found evidence of robbery, they were not entirely convinced and started suspecting the daughters to be involved. Officers searching the home found books, magazines, and poems “that have ritualistic aspects to them.” One of the officers said, “With the occult items found, this may have been one of the causes.” Investigators brought in Allen Goul, a neighbor and Melissa’s boyfriend, for questioning within hours after they noticed suspicious scratch marks on his face. He implicated the sisters in the crime by stating that he was contacted by them to murder their mother.

By questioning friends and relatives, detectives learned that Betty was very strict, and the sisters might have been angry after their mother allegedly threatened to send them to a  camp and punished them for sneaking out last night. Various reports also stated that the family went for counseling and even had one session on the eve of the murder. Melissa admitted that she witnessed her mother’s murder but denied participation.

While Melissa admitted making derogatory comments about her mother to Goul, she denied that she ever seriously considered killing her. However, investigators found evidence to the contrary which pointed out that both sisters might have contacted Allen to murder their mother. They found notes in Melissa’s shorts, sent by Allen, that reportedly had step-by-step instructions of the plan, including the disposal of the body. One of the notes allegedly read, “Tonight! Open the window at 2:30 or keep a lookout for me walking on the street. I may be a little earlier. Be ready, O.K.”

While there were varying versions of how the events might have transpired that night, the consensus is that Melissa let Allen in while Shannon was already waiting for them in Betty’s bedroom. The elder sister then tried to strangle her mother with a pillow, and a struggle ensued in which Allen stabbed Betty several times with a pocket knife before choking her to death.

After the trio was satisfied that the older woman was dead, they disposed of the bloody knife that the police found on the road across the home, along with other articles of bloody clothing, before proceeding toward a friend’s house. Sometime later, they hitchhiked back to the Garrison residence, from where they drove to meet Shannon’s boyfriend, Michael Brewer. Michael would later testify that e planted the idea of faking a robbery to throw the police off the scent. All 3 were arrested on charges of murdering Betty by Gulfport police.

What Happened to Allen Goul, Shannon, and Melissa Garrison?

Shannon and Allen pleaded guilty to the murder a few days before their trial in August 1993 and were sentenced to life in prison. Melissa maintained her innocence but was convicted of murder after four trials. However, following her appeal, the state Supreme Court dismissed her conviction in 1998, and she was due for her fifth trial when she pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She was released on parole the following year.

As per local news reports, Melissa spent just a year behind bars before she died of a lung ailment in July 2002. The other two perpetrators continue to serve their sentences in prisons in Mississippi. In June 2017, Allen appealed against his guilty plea on grounds of receiving ineffective counsel but his appeal was denied by the Mississippi appeals court.

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