Monday, July 18, 2011

Update: Bright Murders

My original post about theses murders was posted in February of 2011. Since then I have discovered more news clippings on the murders of the Bright family as well as a few on what happened to Gary Earl Bright afterwards.

According to theses articles Gary Earl Bright was sent to a juvenile detention center in Missouri for the murders of his family. About a year later he was released to his father's care.  His farther married Alden Kathleen Webb sometime between 1957 and 1960. In 1960, Gary attacked his step-mother with a wrench and was then sentenced to 15 years in prison for the attack.

Theses are articles from 1957. Most of these repeat each other but the two that added details I separated out and posted them first. 

Brownsville Herald Nov 27, 1957

Daily Register Nov 26, 1957

Three months after the murders Gary Earl Bright was found sane and then placed in a juvenile detention center in St. Louis, MO.
Joplin Globe Feb 4, 1958

Theses are the articles from 1960 when he attacked his step-mother.
The Bee July 23, 1960

Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune Oct 12, 1960

The Gettysburg Times Oct 13, 1960


  1. There are a few facts that are wrong with the news articales. 1st Gary never shot himself in the chest. Just flat out wrong. He server about two years of the 15. And both times he went to the Shaws place and told them what he had done. He thoutht he had killed Kathline but he had not, luckly he knocked her out.

    1. Well you are wrong Gary did shoot his self in the chest. He served five years in prison. And became a great husband father and grandfather. And Kathleen his stepmother forgave him and they became very close until her death in March 2012

  2. I am curious- what's the point of the indication of mistakes? Does the fact that he went to "The Shaw's" place (neighbor) both times to tell them what he had done make either crime less severe? He murdered his family. At the age of 12. Today we would try blaming video games, cell phones, music, etc. What was to blame when Gary committed his crime? Clearly there was a serious chemical imbalance of some sort. Then just a short time later he attacked his step-mother with no provocation whatsoever. Again his actions indicate a severe mental imbalance. One can only hope that during his short incarceration he was given intense treatment and taught coping skills. Due to the lack of similar events in his life since becoming an adult, husband, father and grandfather I can only assume that he did in fact receive treatment for whatever imbalance he was suffering from. I realize I veered off topic for a moment but my point is that it truly has no bearing whether he told anyone what he did or sought immediate help or not. It would be relevant if he had sought help BEFORE murdering his mother, 2 year old brother and 5 year old sister or taking a wrench to the back of his stepmother's head.

  3. This story is a sad family tragedy. I knew the Brights and Katheleen (note: this is correct spelling of her name). Yes, Gary is a fine family man and was very supportive of his family including Katheleen. I would hate for his children and grandchildren to be hurt by these incidents being revisited. They are haunted enough by the acts of Gary. His was very fortunate to marry his wife. She is fully knowledgeable about all of this history as are his children.

    Did Gary shoot himself? I have been told that he did by some people and did not by others. Does it matter?

    Mental health treatment? It was not something the culture of the time pursued especially in rural Arkansas. Remember, this happened before NW Arkansas had Wal-Mart and the substantial population growth it has experienced.

    A key and overlooked question is: What does Gary say about these events? He doesn't remember. Gary did have a very controversial form of mental health treatment after he attacked Katheleen. A frontal lobotomy was performed on him.

    In the future when enough time has passed so that no one will be overly injured by open discussion of this story, perhaps the people with personal experience and knowledge of these incidents will be able to answer questions that still need to be asked and answered.

  4. Wow, this explains a few things. I knew about Uncle Earl's first wife being killed but I had no idea that their other children were slain as well (to be honest I didn't know they even had other children until I read this), I'm in total shock to find all this online, although that is the exact reason I started researching this story in the first place because I was never told the whole truth as I was growing up. I came into the family long after all of this happened, and I know there's nothing I can do about any of it but I'd at least like to know the whole truth.

    I've been thinking on this for several days now and I still don't know what to say. I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around it. But I feel deep inside that this is not the whole entire story either. Because as soon as Gary was able to take over the farm again, the first thing he did was bulldoze the house and milk barn or so I've been told by family, I wouldn't know firsthand because I can't make myself go down that road and see the house gone. But why the milk barn, did something happened in there that he what's to erase as much as the house.

    But this fills in a lot of pieces for me and it also explains why I was never comfortable in the house and felt like eyes were on me at all times.