Peggy Carr’s Murder: How Did She Die? Who Killed Her?

Image Credit: Adam Hill/Find a Grave

The episode’ Poison Mastermind’ of ‘Vengeance: Killer Neighbors’ chronicles the consequences of the tension that boiled over between neighbors for several years in a small town in Florida. When a local waitress named Peggy Carr and her family were hospitalized due to a mysterious illness, the authorities later found out that they had been poisoned. In the episode, we also get a detailed account of the investigation that followed, answering many questions one might have about one of the most cunning murder plots.

How Did Peggy Carr Die?

Born on August 29, 1947, in Jasper, Alabama, to Charles Washington Alexander and Gelene Estella Garner Alexander, Peggy Jean Alexander Carr grew up in a rural town of Florida alongside two siblings. They were Shirley Ann Alexander Martin and Tony Charles Alexander. Since their parents were deaf, Peggy had learned sign language at an early age. Growing up in a financially unstable household meant that she had to take up part-time jobs to support them from a very young age, working low-wage jobs in dangerous environments. The tough times she faced during these years actually turned her into a strong, resilient, and independent woman.

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As Peggy grew older, she fell in love with a man and got married. Despite having three children between them, their union didn’t last long, and they got divorced. Having the responsibility to take care of the household again again, she started working overtime at a local restaurant. It was then in 1987 that Peggy’s paths crossed with Parealyn Carr, a divorcee and single father of two, following which she fell in love again and welcomed happiness back into her life. Her joy reached newer heights when they got married and moved into his house in Alturas, Florida. However, things between them soon started to change as there were rumors of Parealyn cheating on her with his ex.

Amidst her marital problems, in October 1988, Peggy began feeling very sick as her heart pounded heavily, and she felt a tingling sensation in her arms as well as feet. When her situation worsened, she was admitted to the Winter Haven Hospital, only to be discharged without any clear diagnosis once she began feeling better. But the condition of this mother of three deteriorated just a few days later, also signified by loss of hair, so she was hospitalized yet again. This time, though, for an extended period of time. Peggy was joined by her son and stepson — Duane and Travis — who also showed similar symptoms. When the doctors checked for thallium poisoning, the results came back positive.

But alas, due to the extremely high amount of thallium in Peggy’s system alone, she was the sole family member who sadly slipped into a coma. After four long months of no progress or improvement in her condition, on March 3, 1989, her loved ones decided to take her off life support instead of keeping her alive and making her suffer. Meanwhile, the police were quick to be all over Peggy’s case when it turned into an attempted murder investigation.

Who Killed Peggy Carr?

At the onset of the investigation, the authorities suspected Peggy Carr’s husband, Parealyn, of foul play by theorizing he possibly deliberately poisoned his wife. However, as they delved further into the matter, they cleared him of any involvement because the entire brood ended up testing positive for the poison. So, it seemed strange that he would also poison himself and his children if he wished to get rid of only his wife. As investigators kept digging deeper, they found out the Carrs had received a death threat in their mail just a few months before the tragedy. It read, “You and all your so-called family have two weeks to move out of Florida forever, or else you all die. This is no joke.”

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Now, in December 1988, the new suspects in the eyes of the investigators were the Carr family’s neighbors — Diana and George James Trepal. During their subsequent interrogation, the latter actually unpromptedly commented on how the poisoner likely wanted the Carrs to move out, which was eerily similar to the anonymous note. They thus dug deeper into him and discovered that George had served two and a half years in a Connecticut prison in the 1970s for being the chemist in a methamphetamine lab.

To learn more about them, the police sent an undercover agent, Susan Goreck, right into their area. She befriended the couple under the guise of Sherry Guinn. Through her intel, it was uncovered that Diana and George hated the Carrs. The latter, specifically, was fed up with their loud music, noisy off-road bikes, and barking dogs chasing their cats, regarding which he and his partner had confronted them a few times, resulting in a feud between the two families living in the orange grove-dotted community of Alturas.

As per reports, when George couldn’t take it anymore, he added lethal doses of thallium nitrate into eight different 16-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola Classic and somehow managed to smuggle them into the Carrs’ kitchen in October 1988. Since the 41-year-old waitress loved this drink more than other family members, she drank it the most, unaware that it had been poisoned. Sherry had soon become good friends with George and Diana, so she asked them if she could rent their house after they relocated to a new place. Once this transpired, the police scoured the entire place and found George’s chemical equipment and bottle containing traces of thallium in the garage. It was enough to link him to the poisoning next door and convict him of murder on circumstantial evidence.

Following George’s ensuing trial, the jury found him guilty on 15 counts, including the first-degree murder of Peggy, six charges of attempted murder of other Carr family members, poisoning, and product tampering. Susan Goreck, who’d posed as Sherry to get close to George, testified, “Once I got to know him, I found him very funny and witty. But what also came out was how he backed away from people he had a problem with. That fits the profile of the poisoner perfectly, someone who is going to do something underhanded because it’s confrontational.” In 1991, George James Trepal was hence sentenced to death, yet he maintains his innocence to this day.

Read More: Where is George Trepal Now?