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Dengrove Collection Writeup

The Yale Murder: Richard Herrin Kills Girlfriend Bonnie Garland in Jealous Rage

Garland v. Herrin, 554 F. Supp. 308 (S.D.N.Y. 1983)

Richard Herrin grew up poor in East Los Angeles and was hailed as a hero when he got into Yale in 1971. Bonnie Garland was a well-traveled legacy who entered Yale when Herrin was a senior. They dated until Herrin’s graduation and decided to stay together when he moved to Texas for graduate school.

After two years long distance, Richard received a letter from Bonnie saying she was seeing someone else. Richard flew to New York on July 3, 1977, intent on winning her back. He stayed with the Garland family, but Bonnie remained insistent that she wanted to see other men. Just after midnight on July 7, Richard Herrin found a hammer in the basement, concealed it with a towel from his suitcase, and snuck upstairs. He bludgeoned her head and throat, fled, and confessed to a priest that morning. Bonnie Garland lived for twenty hours after sustaining a depressed skull fracture and a brain laceration. She died on July 8.

Prominent members of both the Yale and Catholic communities rallied around Herrin, a fact that horrified those whose sympathies lay with the victim, including Dengrove. Though the prosecution sought a conviction for second-degree murder, Herrin was found guilty of manslaughter and served only 17 years. Bonnie’s parents sued him in civil court when he was released; they were awarded $40,000.  In 1997, Richard Herrin was hired to run a safe community agency in New Mexico.