Sunday, November 3, 2019

Gail Cutro, Serial Baby-Killer – South Carolina, 1994

It took three trials to successfully convict Gail Cutro of deliberately killing two babies in 1993 while in her charge as proprietor of Cherokee Hills Day Care in Irmo, South Carolina. A charge against her involving a baby who suffered permanent brain damage in 1994 attributed to assault by Gail Cutro, failed to get a guilty verdict. On Jul. 2, 2000 Cutro was sentenced to life in prison.

~ Parker Colson murder ~

In the morning of January 4th, 1993, Lindy Colson left her four-month-old son, Parker Colson, with Gail Cutro and her husband, Josh. That afternoon, Gail Cutro claimed, found the baby in his crib, not breathing. Attempts to resuscitate Parker were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead. Autopsy results were inconclusive but after further tests, the coroner determined that Parker was the victim of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Shortly after baby Parker's death, his mother joined a SIDS support group and invited Cutro. Lindy agreed to give Cutro articles of Parker's clothing, and Cutro sought out help for care providers who lose children to SIDS.

~ Ashlan Daniel murder ~

On the afternoon of Sep. 9, 1993, the mother of two-month-old Ashlan Daniel arrived at the Cutros’ home to pick up the baby.  As she pulled up emergency personnel were arriving.  Josh Cutro came out of the house and told Mrs. Daniel that Ashlan was dead.

Dr. Reynolds, who autopsied Ashlan’s body, testified petechial hemorrhages were present in her brain, which he had never seen in a SIDS death.  Because he could not determine the cause of death, he concluded it was SIDS. It was only following the next incident ten months later that a thorough autopsied was conducted. The conclusion was that Ashlan died from trauma and asphyxia (Shaken Baby Syndrome).

~ Asher Maier ~

Following the Daniel Asher death, there were no infants under the care of the Cutros for many months. Investigators were paying attention after the second sudden death. After time passed, however, Catherine Maier, mother of a four-month old baby began leaving her baby in the Cutro’s care. It was on June 23, 1993, that little Asher had to be sent to the hospital. When the baby arrived at the hospital, he was limp and lethargic; he was later diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome. Asher suffered permanent brain damage.

Investigators began a probe that focused on both parents and day-care providers. Parker’s body was exhumed and the cause of death was revised from SIDS to Shaken Baby Syndrome. Finally, on July 13, 1994, Gail Cutro was arrested for the alleged murders and the suspected assault on Asher Maier.  Joseph Cutro was charged with neglect.

~ Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy ~

“South Carolina prosecutors believed Cutro suffered from Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, a psychiatric illness where, in most cases, mothers harm or fabricate illnesses in children to get attention for themselves.”

~ Prosecution ~

On December 20, 1994, Gail Cutro was convicted in the death of Ashlan Daniel.  She appealed and on September 1, 1998 the South Carolina State Supreme Court overturns decision in a close (3-2) vote. Gail was released from prison on $300,000 bail. Again she was tried for the Ashlan Daniel murder. A mistrial was declared on June 13, 1999. There was a hung jury, 11-to-1 in favour of guilty.

Finally, on July 2, 2000 Gail Cutro was found guilty of two cases of “homicide by child abuse” and was sentenced to life in prison.

~ Aftermath ~

In 2002 Joseph Cutro was arrested on drug and weapons charges. He was again arrested on July 2, 2003 for possession drugs after fleeing a police encounter in which he was shot. He said he was trying to commit “suicide by cop.”

Brenda Gail Cutro, Joseph Cutro; Cherokee Hills Day Care, Irmo, S. C.
Lexington County, Richland County?
Apr. 21, 1960 – Brenda Gail Cutro born.
1979 – Cherokee Hills Day Care. Irmo, SC, opens.
Jan 4, 1993 – Parker Colson (5 mo), murder.
Sep. 9, 1993 – Ashlan Daniel (2 mo), murder.
Oct. 1993 – Cherokee Hills Day Care. Irmo, SC, closes.
Jul. 13, 1994 – Asher Maier (4 mo), assault, permanent brain damage.
Jul. 1994 – Parker’s body was exhumed and re-autopsied. 
Jul. 13, 1994 – Couple arrested; Gail accused of 2 homicides; Joseph accused of neglect [The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, SC, Jul. 15, 1994, 15]
Dec. 15, 1994 – charged with 2 homicides.
Dec. 20, 1994 – convicted in the death of Ashlan Daniel at a trial in 1994.
Sep 1, 1998 – South Carolina State Supreme Court overturns decision (3-2 vote). (reported on Sep. 1)
Nov. 6, 1998 – released from prison on $300,000 bail.
Jun. 13, 1999 – mistrial declared; tried for Ashland Daniel's death; 11-to-1 in favour of guilty; Circuit Court, Columbia; Judge James Williams.
Jul. 2, 2000 – found guilty of 2 cases of “homicide by child abuse”; Lexington County; sentenced to life in prison.
2002 – Joseph Cutro arrested. Drug and weapons charges.
Jul. 2, 2003 – Joseph Cutro arrested. Fled after resisting arrest, shot by police. He said he was trying to commit “suicide by cop.” [The Greenville News (S. C.), Jul. 5, 2003, p. 3B]


Book: David Hechler, In Good Hands: Investigating Death, Mystery, and the Lessons of Broken Trust in One Family Day Care, Sep. 2, 2016.
[“Former day-care owner sentenced to life in prison: Woman found guilty in killings of two babies, innocent in injuries to another,” The Greenville Press (S. C.), Jul. 3, 2000, p. 3B]
[Appeal: THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA In The Supreme Court The State, Respondent, v. Branda Gail Cutro, Appellant. Appeal from Richland County. James C. Williams, Jr., Circuit Court Judge. Opinion No.  26027. Heard May 3, 2005 - Filed August 15, 2005]
[“Man says he wanted to be killed by police,” The Greenville Press (S. C.), Jul. 5, 2003, P. 3B]
[Bryan Robinson, “Hung jury in trial of woman accused of two infant deaths and one alleged infant attack,” Court TV, Aug. 16, 1999]








1 comment:

  1. I will never believe that Gail Cutro committed these murders. I stayed in the Cutro home many times, as much as one or twice a month in the school year and at least every week in the summertime. I was best friends with their eldest son and am still friends with all three of the kids. I saw nothing, but superb childcare under immaculate conditions. Their home was literally spotless even with a house full of children. Gail is one of the most loving and sweet women I have ever known. I don't belong she is capable of anything remotely like this. I think primarily she became a statement. You see another horrible murder happened around this time where Susan Smith murdered her children by drowning then to death. People were rightly outraged and Gail fell victim to a witch hunt. I only hope they will let her our out of prison to spend her last days with family as her health is quite poor.