Johnny Frank Garrett
Date of Crime: October 31, 1981
Executed February 11, 1992
Johnny Frank Garrett was sentenced to death for the rape and
murder of 76-year-old Sister Tadea Benz, a Roman Catholic nun. Benz had been
found dead in her room at St. Francis Convent, 4301 N.E. 18th Ave. in
Amarillo, TX. The DA's office and the police linked the crime to the rape
and murder of another woman, Narnie Box Bryson, in the same neighborhood
four months earlier. They claimed there were too many similarities between
the two crimes for them to be coincidental.
Police initially arrested a man named Fernando Flores for Benz's murder.
Flores had been caught peeping into the window of an elderly woman two weeks
before. A witness identified him from a photo lineup as being seen near the
convent on the night of the murder. However, FBI testing of crime scene
evidence failed to reveal any matches to Flores and he was released. The DA
publicly apologized for his premature optimism in solving the case.
Subsequently, a clairvoyant named Bubbles, who had previously worked with
the police, claimed to have seen the killer in a vision and identified
Garrett as the killer. Garrett lived near the convent, on the same street.
When police compared Garrett's fingerprints to many unidentified prints
taken from the convent, two prints were found to match. Garrett said he
robbed the convent two days before the murder, but denied raping or
murdering Sister Benz. A 14-year-old boy testified (without a jury present),
that he had been with Garrett two days prior to the murder and that they had
entered the convent to steal necklaces. Necklaces were found in Garrett's
house following his arrest. A foreign bloody T-shirt was found at the
convent, as well as blood on a wall and exit door. Police claimed none of
the blood evidence was submitted for serological testing. Semen evidence was
submitted, but an analyst testified that the sample was too small to test
and that he disposed of the sample because no one told him to keep it. A nun
gave testimony that disputed Garrett's story of burglarizing the convent.
A cop and a jailhouse snitch seperately claimed Garrett confessed to Benz's
murder. The cop wrote out a written confession, which he said Garrett
refused to sign. (The written confession contained details inconsistent with
the crime). Garrett denied confessing to anyone. Police did not try to link
Garrett to the Bryson murder. Garrett was sentenced while still a juvenile
and executed by lethal injection at age 28 on Feb. 11, 1992. His reported
last words were, “I'd like to thank my family for loving me and taking care
of me. And the rest of the world can kiss my everloving ass, because I'm
In 2004, DNA linked Leoncio Perez Rueda to the rape and murder of Bryson.
After Rueda's arrest, he gave an on-camera interview for a documentary in
which he admitted to sexually assaulting both Bryson and “a nun,” but
claimed he was forced to do so by his friend Fernando Flores. Flores was the
man initially arrested for Benz's murder. Rueda did not admit to killing
either woman, but suggested that Flores killed both. [12/11]
The Last Word,
Victims of the State,
West Texas Cases,
Defendants Executed by Texas