Serial Killer Putt Waives Parole Hearing


The actual new report about Killer Putt almost makes him seem somehow worthy of sympathy.

For the third time in the last eight years, a serial killer who terrorized Memphis in the summer of 1969 has waived his appearance before the state parole board.

George Howard Putt was a 23-year-old misfit who had just moved here from Tupelo with his wife when he went on a 29-day killing spree, leaving five victims and a shaken city.

Although he is serving a 497-year sentence, Putt has had four parole hearings since 1993, even though he had indicated he does not want them.

“I have signed waver (sic) papers the last two times I was to meet with the board,” Putt said in a message to a parole officer earlier this month. “Please call me up to sign this time before said hearing.”

A hearing was held anyway and parole was denied with this brief finding: “The release from custody at this time would depreciate the seriousness of the crime of which the offender stands convicted or promote disrespect of the law.”

By law, the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole is required to hold a hearing for every eligible inmate at least once every six years, said spokeswoman Melissa McDonald.

“July of 2017 is six years from now,” she added, “and we will conduct a hearing at that time.”

Putt’s waiver notes his “intent to waive his hearing to expired sentence.”

His sentence expires Dec. 20, 2432.

Putt, 65, works for 34 cents an hour as a commercial cleaner at the Turney Center Industrial Prison and Farm in Only, about 50 miles southwest of Nashville. He has not had a single disciplinary write-up.

It almost makes him sound like a messed up kid who is now some what accepting responsibility and maybe even somewhat possibly remorseful.

There is also a statement from the son of Putt’s victims that seems to try to lessen the brutal horror this man created.

Their son, who discovered his parents’ bodies when they failed to show up for a birthday party, was dumbfounded when he learned eight years ago that Putt could be considered for parole.

For more than four decades, Michael Dumas of Cordova has struggled to find peace, relying heavily each day on his faith as a Christian.

“I cannot speak against George Howard Putt as for 43 years I have prayed for Putt and all the families and victims of the five people that Putt murdered,” said Dumas, who nevertheless keeps close tabs on Putt’s parole status.

“I long ago have forgiven Putt for his crimes…. I continue to pray for George Howard Putt

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I do hope that Michael has found peace.

Here is the twist though. In another article I found we learn the true depth of the horror of Putt’s crimes.

George Howard “Buster” Putt was born in New Orleans, LA in the mid-1940s.  His parents were drifters who brought Buster and his siblings up amid abuse and neglect.  The brothers were not allowed to go to school because of the rambling nature of the parents.  Eventually Putt’s parents went to prison for passing bad checks and the seven children went to North Carolina to live with their grandparents.  Within a relatively short period of time the grandparents sent the whole crew of children to an orphanage in Richmond, VA.

Putt later landed in the Richmond Home for Boys, where it was noted that he had “a morbid preoccupation with blood and gore”.  He was described as “seriously disturbed” in a report by one of the school’s counselors.

By the time Putt was 16 he was under arrest for his second attempted rape.  He had escaped after the first arrest and fled Virginia.  The second attempt occured when he forced a woman into his car in Texas and subsequently wrecked the vehicle.  Putt was then put in a maximum security facility for juveniles in Texas.  One psychiatrist there described Putt as “a pyschopath capable of committing almost any crime”.

When Putt turned 21 he was released and immediately left Texas.  He drifted to Mississippi and later to Memphis where he married his brother’s pregnant ex-girlfriend who he had only know for a few weeks.  Mary Bulimore, the new Mrs. Putt, worked at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis.  Mary had the baby and the couple named him George Jr.  For whatever reasons the couple soon ended up in Tupelo, Mississippi where Putt worked at a gas station and Mary as a clerk in a local hotel. 

In May of 1969 Putt was arrested for burglary and sentenced to six months at the county penal farm.  Very soon he escaped by simply driving a truck away.  The couple headed for Memphis to escape the Mississippi justice system.

The couple floundered around Memphis taking small jobs, selling blood etc.  They made no friends.  George seemed “odd” to most folks he met and never kept a job for long.  Their last residence was on Bethel in North Memphis.  Around the time George lost a job for stealing from the register the “Putt Murders” began.

The murder spree began in midtown Memphis at 1133 South Cooper, home of Roy and Bernalyn Dumas.  Roy Dumas was disabled from wounds suffered in World War 2 and his wife worked as a nurse at Baptist Hospital.   It was a hot day, August 14, 1969.  George Putt, still only 23 years old and only 2 years outside of the juvenile penal system somehow gained entry to the Dumas home where he tied and gagged both occupants.  Putt brutally murdered both in such a horrible way that it became difficult to determine cause of death.  The police commissioner called it, “the most atrocious and revolting crime he had seen in years.”   Putt took Mrs. Dumas’ purse on the way out the door.  Some rifling through the house was apparent, so robbery was listed as the motive for the crime.

Police were holding back certain gruesome details, chief of which was that Bernalyn Dumas was apparently molested with a pair of scissors.  Mr. Dumas was not as badly mangled as his wife’s.  The killer had left the scene of the crime with no witnesses and only a partial fingerprint on a piece of silverware. 

That night George Putt watched the television news coverage with his wife.

Twelve days later Putt struck again.  This time the victim was 80 year old Leila Jackson who lived at 21 N. Somerville.  Mrs. Jackson was found by her grandson much the way Bernalyn Dumas had been found.  Both had a lamp shining directly down on their body, a stocking wrapped around their neck and both were sexually molested with a sharp object, this time a butcher knife.

The police knew immediately that this was the same killer.  Fear began to grip the city with a vengeance.

That evening, George Howard Putt showed his wife the afternoon paper and said, “Remember that old lady I tried to rent the room from over near the Terrace Hotel?  That Mrs. Jackson? Remember her? Somebody killed her just like that Dumas couple!  There must be some kind of really bad nut loose in this town.”

Five days later, 21 year old Glenda Sue Harden was robbed and abducted as she got into her car leaving work.  The police began a manhunt, but the search came to a bad end.  Miss Harden was found, hands bound by her own pantyhose laying in the grass of Riverside Park.  She had been stabbed 14 times in the back, chest, neck and head.  Now there were four people dead in two weeks.  Each crime not only wanton, but heinous.  In each case the victim was robbed, but also assaulted in a way that appeared almost inhuman.

The newspapers warned caution, but warnings were hardly necessary.  All over the city new locks were being installed.  One hundred and thirty-five detectives and vice squad officers were assigned to the case as the largest manhunt in the city’s history began.  Clues were nowhere to be found.  A twenty thousand dollar reward drew no takers.  FBI assistance was sought for lab work.

On September 11, 1969 George Howard Putt commited his last murder.  He was less careful now.  He was seen by a number of people as he skulked about the apartment building at 41 N. Bellevue.  Christine Pickens, who was just turning 59 that day came home at a very inopportune time.  Putt had already failed in a ruse to get another resident, Grace Oldham, to open her door and now he abducted Christine as she entered her apartment. 

Things did not go as smoothly this time.  The victim began to scream for help and yelled “Murder!”.  Emma Gross who lived right above Christine ran to her aid.  As she arrived Putt entered the hallway covered in blood, holding a knife and a woman’s purse.  Putt decided not to kill Emma, probably because the scene was getting hot.  He threw the purse and ran.  Emman roused another neighbor, Wayne Armstrong from sleep and Armstrong began to give chase in his underwear while firing his pistol at Putt (Armstrong had left his glasses behind).  The chase went on through midtown as Armstrong screamed “He’s a murderer! Catch him!”

The chase was joined by two more men, Ray Brenner and Roger Meckley.  The two had limited success chasing the younger Putt, but the chase and Armstrong’s continuous firing of his pistol had drawn police protection.  Putt had actually shaken his pursuers by the time two officers spotted him, pants and forearms covered in blood.  Police officers Glenn Noblin and Phil Scruggs made the arrest on Linden Avenue. 

Christine Pickens had died in the meantime from 20 stab wounds.

Putt confessed to the murders within 48 hours.  He told police that the motive was robbery, but he was not going to leave any witnesses that might send him back to prison.  His victims were picked randomly except for the fact that each appeared vulnerable.

Later Putt recanted his confession, but he was tried for the murder of Christine Pickens and sentenced to death.  That sentence was later commuted to 99 years prompting prosecutors to also try him for the murder of the Dumases.  In all Putt received a total of 497 years.  Without the additional convictions Putt would have been eligible for parole in 1999.

Putt is currently serving his sentence at the Turney Center Industrial Prison in Only, Tennessee.  He now advocates a “Universal Law” philosophy and maintains that he murdered his victims “because that is the way it’s supposed to be”

Mary Putt learned the identity of Memphis’ serial killer just like everyone else… on the evening news.

He was raping the women with sharp objects. Robbery was not the main motivation, sexual gratification was. He has a long history of sexual crimes.

His wife had to be horrified when she read in the papers that her husband was the killer.

What really gets me is that he is not remorseful, he believes that was the way it was supposed to happen. He does not take responsibility, he blames it on some cosmic type plan.

I am glad that he is not going to be trying for parole. I think that the money that he makes should go to a victim’s fund and in some part to pay for his living expenses. I don’t care if it is only $.05 taken from his ‘check’. Every time he gets a check he should be reminded that he is paying for HIS crime not some warped cosmic design.

  1. Michael Dumas, son of Roy and Bernalyn Dumas responds.

    Yes, I have found peace in my life, which all because of God and Jesus Christ, my healer, redeemer and Savior.

    The tragedy and crime scene was horrific for a young man who was 21 years old in college. Only a few tidbits of the murders have ever been leaked or published, and the facts of what I saw will remain sealed and only known by the homocide detectives and God.

    My professed faith in God and Jesus Christ is very deep … as THEY rescued me. healed me, protected me, and carried me during this very difficult time.

    Candidly, until the 2nd Parole Hearing in 2003, I had buried the painful memories from 1969. I was unaware of the earlier and first parole hearing in 1993.

    Attending the 2003 (and a recent 2011) hearing was a very difficult and personally reflective and healing time of my life. I prayed for God’s wisdom and guidance in speaking on His behalf. Yes, I also spoke on behalf of the victims and four families, including myself. Yet, my human pains and griefs were of no concern, as my mission was speaking from the voice of God and Christ. What would Jesus Do?

    The laws were clear, two separate Court’s and Judge’s had sentenced Putt in the early 1970’s. Regardless of those rulings, more recent laws in 1993, made him eligible for Parole Hearings. I certainly could not (and would not) evaluate or judge whether Putt was either remorseful, rehabilated, or ready to be released.

    God’s message to me (and to Putt and all others) was clear. We all are accountable for our sins, yet we all have the forgiveness of our sins by Jesus Christ. The forgiveness is free, paid by Christ, but we do have to repent and ask Jesus to forgive. As a professed Christian, I must also openly and freely forgive others, as a Christian cannot seek forgiveness of their sins, while harboring unforgiving griefs or pains for another person. It is also important for Putt or any other felon, as my public declared forgiveness, grants him the unrestricted freedom to seek a personal relatiionship with God and Christ … and the forgiveness of their sins.

    The walls of a Prison are short-lived and only a moment in time. While Putt lives behind prison walls, we all live within the walls of our past sins and shortcomings in many ways. Yet, Christ’s forgiveness is absolute and life everlasting.

    So I pray that Putt has or someday will seek salvation. I pray that all others who read my response, will also do the same! In the name of Jesus Christ, I lift my prayers.

    • Patrick
    • January 4th, 2013

    I was 13 and living on Carr Ave. when the first murder happens. one night as i was playing with two stray kittens on the bed they look at the window behind me, i look and saw eye glasses peeking in. i learn later from my mom that the Apt next door had just had a woman coming home and found a man with glasses standing in the Apt and she scream and he left
    my mom notice most of the killing was in the area so we moved to Winchester Rd in Whitehaven
    it was then they caught the killer, and when my mom was looking at the memphis newspaper pics she thought she seen the guy before, it was then she read that he work at Hudson Gas Sta on Elvis Presley Blvd
    i then seen he was the strange guy that wash the windshield, alway
    looking straight at you while he clean the glass, those eyeglasses in the pics also look like what i saw in the window as i played with those kitten, if not for them i may not be here to type this and my mom who died from illiness three years later would not been here as long either
    as i recall his eyes in those glasses, Putt should never leave the pen no matter how old he get, if you saw those look you would argee

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