It was 17 years later in November, 1994, and I had just moved into a condo in the Olde City (or Old City, I’ve seen it both ways) neighborhood of Philadelphia. My life had changed in so many ways; I was now working at what was still called the Defense Personnel Support Center deep in South Philadelphia and had just relinquished a management position in order to take a lower paying position where I thought I’d be happier. As I said before, there was no plan, there never was a plan.
As I was unpacking boxes, I had the radio (remember radios?) tuned to a local classical station, one that is no longer with us. At the top of the hour there was a news break, and when the newsreader’s voice mentioned something about Lebanon County, my ears perked up. Two people, a man and a woman, were being sentenced to the death penalty for the murder of—
No that can’t be right. For a second there I thought he said the murder of florist Guy Goodman.
But I had heard correctly. The news hit me like a punch in the gut.
The web was relatively new then, but it did yield some information, and as the years have gone by, and the case has proceeded through various appeals, it has yielded still more information. If you want a dispassionate synopsis of the crime, FindLaw has the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Decision in a 1998 appeal, though that was not the end of the appeals.
For a fuller treatment, the crime series Wicked Attraction’s Season 3 Episode 5 Beyond the Wire has the case partially re-enacted in HD if you wish to purchase the episode on Amazon or Apple. There’s also a lower quality version available on Youtube, which I’m appending at the end of this post. As you’ll see, Guy Goodman was not the perpetrators only victim, but he was the only Pennsylvania victim.
To very briefly summarize, there was a young man from Amish country in Lebanon who had been molested by an uncle between the ages of 13 and 15; he never spoke of it to anyone and became more angry and irritable until he turned to drugs and crime, getting over two dozen convictions by the time he was 20 in 1993, and while he was incarcerated he was allowed on a work release program where he met a troubled woman who also had a history of abuse.
At some point Guy Goodman befriended the young man and went to visit him often in prison, hoping to help him turn his life around. According to Guy’s friends, this was very typical of Guy.
On September 15, 1993, the young man got a two hour pass to leave the prison, but he never planned to return. Instead, he hooked up with his woman friend, and the two of them went to Guy Goodman’s house to try to get him to give them money.
By this time the 74 year old Goodman had sold his country home and was living in a townhouse lined with a lifetime’s collection of valuable antiques in Palmyra. Apparently Guy tried to talk some sense into the man and pleaded with him to go back to prison before it was too late. But when Guy’s back was turned, the man picked up one of the antique vases and bashed Guy over the back of the head.
Quoting from the dispassionate appeals summary: “the pair then bound Goodman's wrists, ankles and neck in such a manner that he could not extricate himself. They then wrapped a bathrobe around Goodman's head, placed a plastic bag over it, sealed the bag with duct tape, and wrapped a bedspread over the bag. Finally, they carried Goodman into the basement, tying him more securely and leaving him to suffocate.”
They stole some checks, a credit card, and Guy’s car and went on a cross country spending spree through several states until the credit card was flagged, at which point they had to find another victim. They were eventually apprehended in Arizona and returned to Lebanon County for trial, where they were found guilty and, because the murder was committed during the execution of a crime and involved torture, they were sentenced to death.
Eventually the death sentences were overturned on appeal (the appeals continued even after the episode of Wicked Attraction was completed), but I believe the appeals are finally concluded and both defendants are now sentenced to life behind bars. They were also tried and convicted in Nevada for their other victim, a woman who endured many days of torture.
I don’t want to dwell any longer on the thugs who perpetrated these crimes; as you may imagine, I have my own opinions as to what should be done to them, and that’s why relatives and friends of victims shouldn’t be allowed to participate in passing judgment on the perpetrators.
But I hope you’ll understand now why I wanted to write at least one post that said nothing but good things about Guy Goodman. For years now, whenever I typed anything into a search engine about Guy Goodman of Palmyra, I would get the articles about his brutal murder or the sentencing or appeals of his killers.
I just hope that at some point my little blog post might percolate its way into the search results, so that when someone searches on Guy Goodman of Palmyra, they’ll find at least one article describing what a good man he actually was.