Monday, April 23, 2012

Here's the Story of Family Dysfunction Behind My Neighbor From Hell

Mike McGarity
Homewood High School
The courtroom misery that my wife and I have experienced, on the surface, seems like a story of legal intrigue. But upon closer inspection, you find what Hollywood might call a "psychological thriller."

That's because Mike McGarity, the troublesome neighbor who initiated our law-related headaches, comes from a background of intense family dysfunction. I was reminded of that not long ago when I stumbled upon the obituary of Edmund C. McGarity, 83, who had lived in the Gadsden, Alabama, suburb of Rainbow City.

Edmund McGarity was Mike McGarity's father. In fact, Mr. McGarity had five children, four of them boys, and all four boys had (or have) criminal records. What kind of father was Edmund C. McGarity? Well, I guess you could say he was consistent--all four of his boys turned out to be thugs. and two of them died young, under unusual circumstances.

To put it in stark terms, public records show that Edmund C. McGarity was a miserable failure as a father--and Mrs. Schnauzer and I have paid a colossal price for it. You might say we aren't real happy that the results of Mr. McGarity's parenting "skills" wound up on our doorstep.

Not long after Mike McGarity became our next-door neighbor in December 1998, we learned that he had several "charming" qualities. He was a smart ass and a bully, who seemed to have no clue that nearby property owners had certain rights. Because of his surly demeanor, and apparent intellectual deficits, it was impossible to carry on a semi-adult conversation with him. I had lived for 42 years, graduated from a large university, traveled extensively, and lived in three different cities--and I had never come across anyone like this guy.

So I decided to conduct some research, using the resources of the Birmingham Public Library and various law-enforcement agencies. I was not surprised to learn that Mike McGarity himself had a criminal history. But it was fascinating--in a dark, foreboding way--to learn about the family that had produced him.

Included among the five McGarity children was one girl. Her name is Nancy McGarity Lawrence, she lives in Birmingham--and best I can tell--she has no record of being anything other than a law-abiding citizen and a decent human being. She has my deepest sympathies for having grown up with four brothers who must have been miserable to be around. Her youngest brother, Mike, would have been bad enough on his own. But the other three apparently weren't much better, and public records indicate one brother was even worse.

We already have examined Mike McGarity's criminal record, and we soon will be providing more details. We have noted the irony that he has worked for roughly 25 years at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, a federal contractor that is supposed to have solid background checks and stringent requirements for employee screening. We also noted that Koko Mackin, a spokeswoman for BC/BS of Alabama has been quoted about the company's commitment to ensuring the integrity of member health information by, presumably, weeding out questionable characters among its staff--yet she and other executives seem blissfully unconcerned that a documented thug is in their midst.

Marshall McGarity
Shades Valley High School
Is it any wonder that Mrs. Schnauzer and I struggled to interact with Mike McGarity--and determined early on that we wanted no part of him, or anyone affiliated with him, having access to our property? It certainly isn't when you learn about his criminal history--and the backgrounds of his three brothers.

What can lead to such dysfunction? Well, the seminal event apparently came on June 5, 1973, when Edmund C. McGarity and his first wife, Lenora T. McGarity, divorced. According to the divorce decree, the three oldest boys were to live with their father. Mike (age 13) and Nancy (age 11) were to live with their mother.

How bad was the home environment before the divorce? I have no idea, but it clearly did not help turn out well-adjusted males. Here are brief summaries of what we've learned about the McGarity "men"--and trust me, it's not pleasant reading:

Marshall Edmund McGarity--Date of birth: 8/7/1952 . . . apparently was the brain among the siblings . . . had a degree in accounting from Birmingham-Southern College and worked in the gas accounting department at Southern Natural Gas, which later became El Paso Corporation . . . was married to Celia McGarity, who has a background in interior design . . . she filed for divorce in 1977 but withdrew the complaint in 1978 . . . he committed suicide in 2004--by gunshot wound to the head, according to our sources. Criminal Highlights: Driving while intoxicated (twice), driving without a license (twice).

Charles Alan McGarity--Date of birth: 8/30/1955 . . . the criminal "star" of the family . . . he lives somewhere in Alabama, and his wife's name is Maria . . . has worked in landscaping . . . his rap sheet is so extensive that I almost certainly have not uncovered all of it . . . was once represented by William E. Swatek, one of the lead characters in our Legal Schnauzer story, on a theft charge . . . public records indicate he has served time in the Jefferson County Correctional Center. Criminal highlights: grand larceny in a narcotics-related case (guilty plea), theft of property (guilty plea), criminal trespass (sounds familiar), public intoxication, disorderly conduct, numerous driving-related offenses.

William Cody McGarity--Date of birth: 1/24/1957 . . . he apparently was gay and died of AIDS in 1996 . . .  was facing a theft-of-property charge at the time of his death . . . must have liked shopping in high-end places; was arrested for shoplifting a package of cigarettes at the Western Supermarket in Mountain Brook . . . no information that I could find regarding employment. Criminal highlights (aside from theft charge): Driving while intoxicated, public intoxication, driving without a license (three times).

It's not as if the McGarity siblings grew up in rugged surroundings. They appear to have grown up in the fashionable Birmingham suburb of Homewood and had access to some of the finest K-12 schools in Alabama. It's not like they were impoverished; their father had degrees in accounting and law and was an executive at several companies, including U.S. Pipe.

At one point, I thought about trying to look up Edmund C. McGarity in Rainbow City and see if he would talk to Mrs. Schnauzer and me. Here are a few questions I thought about asking him: Do you realize that you raised a son who is an absolutely wretched human being? Do you realize that your son has caused us untold misery? Do you care?

I finally decided that Edmund C. McGarity probably wouldn't give a flip about the repercussions of his own flawed parenting. We never made a trip to Gadsden and never had that little chat with the man who apparently played a major role in ensuring that we would have a next-door neighbor from hell.

What's our profound lessons for the day? Dysfunction can grow in seemingly unlikely environments. It can cause substantial harm for people who innocently cross its path down the road. If you wind up being a victim of someone else's family dysfunction, you probably will have to take matters into your own hands; public officials aren't likely to do anything about it, and they even might make the situation worse.


Anonymous said...

This is the key to America, dysfunction and an intentional model of the patriarch psychopath and matriarch sociopath with roles ever exchanging upon the programming.

How did the neighbor from hell people (no such idea, family) become so unable to be higher thinking humans rather than the same formula for the majority of U.S. "citizens!"

America, the land of dysfunction and of course the model was and is intentional. How better to make certain all the systems function to pay the system masters that run the world?

Human filth and subhuman pays. Stories are sold, step right up and get your morning paper, read all about it.

Step right up, step right up, crime sells and horror pays big bucks. Subhuman hell neighbors that have only human filth criminal insanity as an imagination give the systems lots of reason to exist.

Turn on the TV or take in a Hollywood movie, our role models are all perfectly designed for our societies. /rkelly

jeffrey spruill said...

Edmund C. McGarity Jr. belonged to that exclusive club which watches out for their own no matter the crime.

These are the ones who make & are "above the law."(most likely reason mr. & mrs. schnauzer got shafted in court)

He received his law degree from Jones Law School, Montgomery, AL, in 1964.

legalschnauzer said...

Having a father with a law degree might have helped some of these thugs escape legal pickles.

Ishmael said...

Well, Schnauzer, as a skinny, teenaged science geek who was too poor to play high school sports because I had to work most of the time, I had my share of dealing with bullies and the like. The way I countered it was by joining the Navy and learning how to build, maintain, repair and fire complex precision-guided anti-submarine and anti-surface weapons systems. In retrospect, it MAY have been going a bit overkill, but it HAS come in handy in dealing with bullies since then because there really CAN be some comfort in being the Baddest-ass MOFO in the general area. It has allowed me to confront bullies and psychopaths by appealing to the fear they constantly live with. The times I've had some loudmouth try to get in my face here's what I have done.

1. Immediately invade their personal space and get REAL close to them. Being 6'4" & 270lbs plus helps wondrously,

2 Speak very quietly so they have to shut their yap to be able to hear me.

3. Tell them, very quietly, that THEY are laboring under a delusion I want to clear up for them. The PURPOSE of the police is NOT to protect people like me from people like them but to protect people like THEM from people like ME.

4. Then I turn around and walk away.

If THAT doesn't stop them, I fall back on an idea I got from an old Archie comic book that I've successfully used a few times. I try to bet them $20 that I can give them a Black Eye WITHOUT touching them. If they're stupid enough to TAKE the bet, I punch their lights out, then pay them the 20. Don't want to be known as a welcher. If they call the cops, it was just a bet, I lost and I paid off.

It can be VERY therapeutic for the psyche. Of course, exposing them to public approbation and ridicule on the Internet can be also. When my wife left her ex-husband for me and he kept threatening her, she went on a local SF TV talk show, People Are Talking with Ann Frasier and Ross Mcgowan about people who lie and told everyone in the Northern California ALL about him. On the Chiron under her face on the tube as she dissed him from the dais it read, "Divorcing Husband who lies". I still have a copy of the videotape.

legalschnauzer said...


I like your style. Excellent suggestions, by the way.

Anonymous said...

OMG! This is Mrs. Schnauzer. I love your style, Ishmael! As Roger said, those are excellent suggestions. You're my hero. :) I LOVE IT!!!

Robby Scott Hill said...

It's truly a small world. I had no idea McGarity's father also graduated from Jones, lived so close to me or that the brother was involved in that Enron/Southern Natural Gas deal that I investigated when I worked for the state. You really have to know the backgrounds of who you're dealing with.

Anonymous said...

OMG! This is Mrs. Schnauzer. I love your style, Ishmael! As Roger said, those are excellent suggestions. You're my hero. :) I love it!!!

legalschnauzer said...


You remember McGarity's brother being connected to an Enron/SONAT investigation? How's that for irony?

Anonymous said...

Tom Waits said it best: we are monkeys with money and guns. /rk

Anonymous said...

Now you got 4 "families" mad.. He needs to do something about that brow... it is one continuous eyebrow. Is he still that scary looking? x

legalschnauzer said...

Oh, he's actually worse looking now. If you look hard, you can see a trace of innocence in that high school picture. You see no innocence now.

Anonymous said...

Hey legal guy, I lived in the same neighborhood as the McGarity Family. It was Regent Forrest. Now Regent Forrest isn't some high class place, its a middle/upper class neighborhood. Mr Legal I've never had as much fun with Marshall. Alan, & Bill but Mike was too young. I got in trouble too but coming from a divorced family does something to you. We were all about the same age when our parents got divorced, around 14. We didn't hurt anyone or kill anyone just boys being boys. Just think of all the people who kill others, what about them. I had neighbors like you and I gave um hell too because some ol fart isn't going to rule my life, and that's what you are sir an old fart. Is this the only family that has had problems I don't think so. America is the problem. Kids don't have anything to do and want to feel better and they turn to drugs to forget their problems, like you. I've gone on too long but I loved this family believe it or not problems and all I'm proud to have say they were my friends, so stop. Sincerely, T.(UR middle buddy) PS I'm not giving you my name because I don't want someone who hasn't got anything better to do than cause trouble

Anonymous said...

You just don't know what these boys went though I do! Get a life

legalschnauzer said...

So you think it's OK to "give someone hell" for the simple reason that you view them as different from you? That's pretty much what racists do, isn't it?

No wonder you are friends with the McGaritys. You sound like a class act.

legalschnauzer said...

You don't know what I've been through, now do you? Or what my wife has been through. Mike McGarity doesn't know what we've been through. How do either of you know that we haven't had it far worse than you? The two of you are the only ones who've had difficulties? You sound like a seriously selfish individual.

You might try taking a look at your own life and your own values. They appear to be warped.

You seem to have the same lack of concern for others that McGarity has. Again, I'm not surprised you were friends.

Lots of people come from broken homes, but they still manage to respect the rights of others.

Anonymous said...

I worked 31 years same job, plus 2 years in the Army just retired. Thank You very much

Anonymous said...

Some do and some don't do bad things that come from a broken family. But what you say sir will never turn me against them. Like I said they my life fun. Now if he had killed you I wouldn't be writting. What did he do? Tell it

Anonymous said...

You mean ur going to get the last word, I can see what the problem was, you. You wanted everything your way period. I tireed of you and people like you

legalschnauzer said...

I don't care where you worked or how you served, your words display a serious lack of values. You say it's OK to mistreat someone you think is different from you. You blame the victims of abuse. You say those who come from broken families deserve a free pass to abuse others--except it's wrong if they kill them. You only care about the problems you and your friends have experienced; you don't care that others have struggles, too. You make judgments about me even though you've made no effort to know me, and you don't have the courage to identify yourself.

What kind of "fun" did you and the McGarity thugs have? Abusing others, trashing other people's rights and property? Destroying stuff? Gee, that sounds like "fun." What kind of juvenile records do all of you have?

You come across as a selfish, short-sighted, self-centered, cowardly toad with a massive chip on his shoulder, just like your childhood thug friend.

If you want to know what McGarity did to me, read my blog. It's all here, with much more coming soon.

If you want to continue this discussion, I would be happy to do that via private e-mail or phone. You can reach me at or 991-7438. If you are a bigger person than you appear, I would be happy to discover that.

I'm not interested in discussing important legal/personal matters with someone who refuses to identify himself.

If you genuinely are interested in these matters, then act like an adult and be up front about it. Otherwise, I'm cutting you off.

Anonymous said...

I don't care what they did to you, sounds like you deserved it the way you sound. I'm paying my mortgage payments just like you, no nosey neighbor is going to say what I can and can't do as long as I'm on my side of the property. You try raising a kid or two and if its boys they could have ended up the same way you never know. But you will never know because you don't have any. I ended up just fine you don't know the whole story what happened to them. Try praying instead of what your doing

legalschnauzer said...

I notice you still are afraid to identify yourself, and I really don't care who you are. But I will post this one comment and respond to it because you hit on the No. 1 issue.

They did not stay on their side of the property, and that was the problem. They repeatedly trespassed, vandalised, etc. McGarity admitted the trespassing, and none of it has anything to do with whether I do or do not have children. Your comments on that subject are patently stupid.

My wife and I are about as far from "nosy neighbors" as you can get. We have no interest in McGarity's business. But when we told him to cease the constant trespassing he sassed and threatened me--and he later physically assaulted me. I've got proof of that, and an eye witness.

We were the victims of his crimes, including physical assault, and that's the story in a nutshell. Your pal grew up to be the perpetrator of assault, not to mention that he's a documented perjurer, so you should be proud.

You admit you would not tolerate misbehavior on your property, so you apparently would have handled it much like I did. After all of this, it seems you and I are on the same page.

Actually, you and a whole lot of other people probably would have shot McGarity a long time ago for his behavior. My wife and I aren't big gun people, but that's how a lot of people (probably including you) would have handled this thug. We probably should have gone that route; would have been easier than what we've been through.

Americans love their "Second Amendment remedies," so that's probably what we should have done.

Anonymous said...

I happened to stumble upon this rather old post. I hope your neighbor situation has improved. I hope you never have to deal with life situations as the imperfect people you describe have done. I must add one comment. I have never met other family members, but Marshall was one of the kindest people I have ever known.

legalschnauzer said...

I can assure you I'm an imperfect person, and I've had to deal with plenty of "life situations," as you probably have, too. I'm glad to hear you consider Marshall to have been a kind person. If that's the case, I certainly wish I had gotten him as a neighbor instead of his younger brother.

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legalschnauzer said...

You are welcome to contact me directly, via private email ( or phone (205-381-5673)

legalschnauzer said...

Hmmm . . . you've deleted your comments? I guess it wasn't that much of a problem after all. Maybe you are afraid of certain dysfunctional people in your own family, the ones I've had to deal with? Or maybe you are just a con artist of some sort? Anyway, good luck. If you really are a member of that family, you'll need it.

legalschnauzer said...

BTW, your name still appears where your comments were, so not sure what you were hoping to accomplish. Are you afraid of having to deal with an angry and irrational Mike McGarity? You really ought to check in with me. I know all about that "pleasant experience."

legalschnauzer said...

A reader who identified herself as Kristen Lawrence Milling sent me three comments early this morning, and then promptly deleted them (apparently via Google+) once I published them. Ms. Milling stated her mother is Nancy McGarity Lawrence, sister of Mike McGarity, the criminally inclined neighbor who caused all of our legal headaches. That means Kristen Lawrence Milling, who is married to Chris Milling, is Mike McGarity's niece. Not sure why she sent three comments to me, and then immediately deleted them. But I am going to run them. This illustrates the insular, self-centered mindset of the family that has virtually ruined our lives. Here is comment No. 1, sent at 2:50 a.m. on 7/17/17:

Kristen Milling has left a new comment on your post "Here's the Story of Family Dysfunction Behind My N...":

I am Nancy McGarity's daughter and am saddened by the hate you have for my family. For her to be pulled in this article, my grandad, and the rest of my family is so hurtful. I can't imagine how you or your loved ones would feel to have an article like this published about your family. I hope you can put yourself in others shoes and realize the frivolousness of this all. There is more to life than to waste so much time being hateful. I pray that love can be replaced by your hate as there is an exhaustion and burden that comes from exerting so much hate toward a family. I am deeply hurt by the statements made by my family. Deeply hurt. Prayers for you and your family to find compassion and not take your anger out on people you don't even know. God bless you.

Posted by Kristen Milling to Legal Schnauzer at July 17, 2017 at 2:50 AM

legalschnauzer said...

Here is comment No. 2 from Kristen Lawrence Milling, left at 3:05 a.m. on 7/17/17:

Kristen Milling has left a new comment on your post "Here's the Story of Family Dysfunction Behind My N...":

I am Nancy's daughter and this blog is the most insensitive and hurtful writing toward my family. I respectfully ask you to remove this as people are brought into your post that don't deserve it. It is beyond unfair and unreasonable to take out hate on a person's immediate and extended family. This is damaging, hateful, and hurtful. I would hope you could put yourself in other people's shoes and realize the magnitude of this.

Posted by Kristen Milling to Legal Schnauzer at July 17, 2017 at 3:05 AM

legalschnauzer said...

Here is comment No. 3 from Kristen Lawrence Milling, sent at 3:09 a.m. on 7/17/17:

Kristen Milling has left a new comment on your post "Here's the Story of Family Dysfunction Behind My N...":

I am Nancy's daughter and this blog is the most insensitive and hurtful writing toward my family. I respectfully ask you to remove this as people are brought into your post that don't deserve it. It is beyond unfair and unreasonable to take out hate on a person's immediate and extended family. This is damaging, hateful, and hurtful. I would hope you could put yourself in other people's shoes and realize the magnitude of this.

Posted by Kristen Milling to Legal Schnauzer at July 17, 2017 at 3:09 AM

legalschnauzer said...

To be clear, Kristen Lawrence Milling is not 13 years old. She is a graduate of Auburn University and a certified public accountant (CPA) with Spire Energy. Before that, she was a CPA with RSM US Careers.

Not sure what she hoped to accomplish by mouthing off to me, but we are going to write one or more posts about this, to illustrate the self-centered mindset behind the dysfunctional family that has ruined our lives.