The murder of Gary Wiest is profound on many levels. It was a type of killing deeply abhorrent in almost any culture. We live in a violent society. In today's world, murder takes so many different forms. There are those who murder for money, those who murder out of rage, those that kill out of religious convictions, as we know all too well.
Gary’s is a story of patricide and extreme entitlement gone wrong.
The first thing that my pathologist and I noticed was that there were at least 40 wounds in the form of stabs, cuts and abrasions on his body. Yet there was almost no blood. None of the usual blood patterns on the surface of the victim’s body were consistent with the wounds he received. The body had clearly been washed. There was also a strong possibility that original clothing had been taken off and the clean underwear had been put on.
I wondered, what kind of person kills someone violently and then washes him?
We had to make identification with reasonable medical certainty. The victim’s face was blown up beyond any photographic recognition, due to several days of decomposition, making a visual ID impossible. The body needed to be x-rayed before it was brought to the forensic center; those x-rays revealed a past surgery implant, confirming his identity.
We started to do a conditional notification of death to his survivors. Gray had a mother and two daughters. Everyone was extremely cooperative. He had been well liked by his former coworkers within the close-knit community around Harrisburg. As the leads were drying up, the police looked more closely at one of Gary’s daughters and her relationship to her father. It’s a fact that most people who kill generally know their victims or have frequent contact with them.
As it turned out, on the same day as her father’s death, Gary’s daughter had been gone to the local emergency room with a serious, deep laceration of the thumb. When questioned she first claimed that she had been mugged. Later she said she had accidentally cut herself.
Police asked to look into the trunk of her car. When they opened the trunk they found all her implements of destruction; the knife, the duct tape, the garbage bags and cleaning products. It seemed she had taken almost no precautions to cover her guilt. Perhaps what she had done was too much to bear and she wanted to be caught.
Gary’s daughter’s attack was one of torture and rage. Only about three wounds out of Gary’s 40 wounds were fatal. He had multiple defense words on his arms. At one point in the attack he fell to the floor. It is likely his daughter straddled him, and repeatedly stabbed and slashed him. She stabbed him in the face, the neck area, the chest and ultimately the abdomen. The face is an important thing. It is our identity.
After it was all over, she must have gotten up and then realized the immensity of it. The methodical cleaning of both the apartment and her father's dead bleeding body was almost a ritual, like trying to cleanse away her sin. I believe that Gary’s daughter left the body because she could not face the task of dismembering him and removing him to a different location. Her fantasy descended into a total denial of her deed and a refusal to accept what she had done. While I don’t believe the daughter necessarily decided beforehand to murder her father that day, she did bring a knife to her father's apartment.
And what was the cause of the conflict? Money.
Gary and his daughter had gotten into an argument over finances and a stolen checkbook. Angered that she would steal from him, Gary tried to cut off the long- time financial support he had provided her.
Almost every parent can relate to this dilemma. We wonder, will supporting our kids help create a positive change in their lives, or just a negative dependency and entitlement?
Gary's loving support of his daughter financially created within her a right to take anything she wanted from him . . . right down to even his life.
The case is closed . . . but there is always another story.