TUCSON, Ariz. — Margaret Carabetta, 15, resided in the 2800 block of North Woodland Avenue with her mother; her parents had previously divorced. She was a student at Sahuaro High School.
On April 8, 1982, her mother, Judy Carabetta, called Margaret between 10:40 p.m. and 11 p.m. from her job at a local bar. When Carabetta arrived home between 1:15 a.m. and 1:30 a.m., she found the front door wide open, their dog outside, and Margaret was gone.
Carabetta called the police but was told to wait 24 hours before filing a missing person report. Police told her she could only report her as a runaway. Carabetta knew her daughter would not run away, so she decided to search for Margaret herself but did not find the teen.
Around 8:00 a.m. the following day, two elderly women out for a morning stroll discovered a body in an area known as a “lover’s lane,” near North Craycroft and North Pinchot roads in the Catalina foothills – over three miles from Margaret’s home. Authorities identified the body two days later through dental charts as Margaret.
The teenager had suffered a blow to the head from a blunt instrument, later said to be a rock. She was lying face down with her hands tied behind her back and clad only in underwear and a T-shirt she often wore to bed. There was no evidence of a sexual assault.
When police searched the Carabetta home, they found no signs of forced entry, a struggle, or blood.
Carabetta said the last time she saw her daughter was before she left for work on April 8th. She asked Margaret to help put the top up on her convertible.
“She was grumpy about it,” Carabetta said in 1997. As Margaret headed back inside, Carabetta yelled, “Hey, give me one more look!”
The line from the movie “A Star is Born.”
“She started laughing and that was the last time I saw her,” Carabetta said.
Shortly after Margaret’s murder, police were able to narrow down the time frame of the murder when a young couple reported seeing the body around 12:30 a.m. but did not call the police out of fear. The man returned to the crime scene when investigators were there and told them what he and his significant other had seen.
Through other sources, police learned that Margaret had spoken with a friend on the phone around 11 p.m. It is not known who the friend was. A 2007 article stated that a friend had visited Margaret at her home while Carabetta worked. The friend left, and Margaret got ready for bed.
Detectives said they believed Margaret knew her killer and left voluntarily with that person. She was preparing for bed when the person arrived at the house. They later said she may have died spurning his advances. They did not know if Margaret was killed at the exact location where her body was found or somewhere else.
On May 14, 1982, police arrested William Fred Garrison, 21, on burglary, kidnapping, and sexual assault charges related to the April 14 rape of a Tucson woman. Ten days later, police charged him with a second sexual assault charge with the rape of a neighbor on the same day.
During the April 14 attack, Garrison made comments to his victim referencing Margaret Carabetta’s murder.
In that attack, the woman awoke to a man standing in the bedroom of her mobile home near North Alvernon Way and East Fort Lowell Road. The man had a knife and warned her, “Be quiet, or you’ll end up like the girl at the end of Craycroft.”
Garrison then ripped up a sheet and cut apart a macrame plant hanger, tied her up, and then raped her. Before leaving, he stole a .25-caliber automatic pistol, two kinds of prescription painkillers, and a belt.
During the May 14th assault, Garrison raped a woman who rented a home from his mother. She told police he entered her home with a spare key and threatened her with a knife.
He then gagged her, tied her hands behind her back, and raped her. She called the police after he left, and officers arrested him shortly after.
Because of the similarities between the rapes and Margeret’s murder, Garrison became a suspect. However, police had zero evidence linking Garrison to the murder and never charged him in her death.
In January 2007, the Pima County Sheriff’s Office sent evidence to a lab for testing. The evidence included the cord used to tie Margaret’s hands and her shirt and underwear. They were hoping to build a DNA profile, but it is unclear what came from the testing as no articles have been written on the murder since March 2007.
While this author assumes the murder is still unsolved, Margaret’s case was not listed as an unsolved crime in a story on Tuscon.com in November 2017. I could not find any information on this case after 2007.
Margaret was a typical teenager. She did good in school and was well-known and well-liked by her peers, although she did not have many close friends. She participated in a few school activities but mainly was a private person.
Her parents divorced, and shortly after, Margaret and her mother moved out of Sahuaro High School’s district. But Margaret enjoyed going there, so she officially kept her father’s address.
People who knew Margaret called her a quiet, friendly girl who appeared to be deeply affected by her parent’s divorce.
Carabetta and Margaret’s father, Vincent Carabetta, reside in the Tucson area. Margaret has a brother named Benjamin, who resides in Mesa.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
As I stated in the article, I could not find any info on whether this is a solved or unsolved case. 2007 was the last article written and it was still unsolved then. So, I’m assuming it still is. It’s w
I do believe Margaret knew her killer. I don’t think she left voluntarily because she would have put on a pair of pants and shut the door behind her.
This was a quick murder – happened within a 1.5 hour window. Whoever killed her meant to do that and only that. Because there was no sexual assault, I’m not convinced the killer is a man. Police think she spurned a man’s advances, but I’m not so sure. Who were the friends who saw and spoke to her right before the murder?
Whoever killed her knew she was alone and that her mom was at work. He or she also knew that Margaret would answer the door if he or she knocked. The door was wide open when Judy returned home, so I think the killer grabbed her as soon as she opened the door.
If she was killed with a rock, how did the killer get her out of the home? Was there another weapon involved? Did he or she just drag her out? How was he or she able to tie her hands if there wasn’t a weapon involved? I mean, if someone approached me without a weapon and tried to take me, you best believe I’d fight back and my autopsy would show it. 👧🏻 I’d scream, kick, punch, scrape skin with my fingernails, whatever it took, yet no neighbors reported hearing any screams or odd sounds coming from the home. She had to have been compliant, or there was more than one person involved.
I don’t think Garrison killed Margaret because there’s no evidence to support this theory or that she even knew him.
Police said in 2007 that they had an idea on who did it but they didn’t have the evidence. I don’t know who they were talking about. Probably Garrison, but he would have raped her first, I’m sure. I think this was personal.
- Fimbres, Gabrielle. “Wanted: Clue to Murder.” The Tucson Citizen. November 26, 1990.
- Gary, Roderick. “Margaret Carabetta’s Murder is ‘That 1% That Haunts You.'” The Arizona Daily Star. February 20, 1983.
- Gonzales, Jay. “Body Identified as Student, 15.” The Arizona Daily Star. April 11, 1982.
- Huicochea, Alexis. “More Info Sought in ’82 Beating Death of Girl, 15.” The Arizona Daily Star. March 19, 2007.
- Long, John S. “Man Charged in 2 Rapes is Teen-Killing Suspect.” The Arizona Daily Star. May 27, 1982.