Army Major Chester Barrett Murdered By Estranged Wife Lisbeth & Step-Son for Military Survivor Benefits; Both Sentenced to Prison 35+ Years Later (1977)

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Major Chester Barrett, US Army

Army Major Chester Barrett was found murdered in a desert area in east El Paso, Texas on January 4, 1977. Investigators opened a murder investigation but exhausted all leads and the case went cold for over 35 years. In 2006, the case was reopened by the El Paso Police Department and new tips came in. Investigators would learn that Major Garrett’s wife Lisbeth enlisted the help of her son Roger in a plot to kill him. The pair were arrested and charged with Major Garrett’s murder. At trial, Roger confessed that he and his mother asked his step-father to come to their house to fix the dishwasher. As Major Garrett was leaning over the dishwasher, Roger struck him in the head with a baseball bat; he says his mother then stabbed him several times. Prosecutors said the motive to kill Major Garrett was to collect the money from his military survivor benefits.

Major Garrett and Lisbeth were in the midst of a divorce when the homicide occurred; Major Garrett was living in Officer’s Quarters at Fort Bliss. Lisbeth was accused of using her 18 year old child to lure Major Garrett to the marital home because she wanted to kill him. A witness testified at trial that divorcees of active duty Army officers could not get benefits but widows could get survivor benefits from the Army for the rest of their lives. Roger Garrett was convicted of murder for his part in the crime in 2013; he was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Former high school teacher Lisbeth Garrett, 76, was found guilty of homicide in 2015; she was sentenced to 45 years in prison. Roger Garrett appealed his murder conviction but the case was denied by the Texas Court of Appeals.

“Maj. Chester Garrett served four tours in Vietnam and, while with the 5th Special Forces Group, earned the U.S. military’s second-highest award for valor. According to officials, Garrett was a Special Forces advisor to a Vietnamese strike force on a search and destroy mission near the Cambodian border.” –The Fayetteville Observer

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