The Murder of Garrett Phillips

By Elise Haley aka Crime Shark

It was October 24, 2011 when just before 5pm, it began to rain in the small town of Potsdam, NY.  Potsdam, split in two by the Raquette River, sits nestled in northern tip of NY about 40 minutes from  the Canadian border. Without counting its student population, Potsdam has a population of about 9,600.

Garrett Phillips, age 12, was playing basketball at the middle school when he spoke with his mom on his cellphone and she told him to go home and do homework. School surveillance cameras show Garrett leaving the parking lot on his skateboard at 4:52pm.  A little over 30 minutes later, at 5:33pm, Garrett was found strangled in his apartment. Garrett was taken to nearby Canton-Potsdam Hospital, which he had just skateboarded by, where he was pronounced dead at 7:18 pm.

A bent window screen and a gash in the grass below the window suggests the murderer escaped by jumping out the 2nd floor window.  The lone suspect in the case was Oral “Nick” Hillary who was the ex-boyfriend of Tandy Cyrus, Garrett’s mother.  Hillary is also the former soccer coach at Clarkson University.

Little viable evidence was found at the scene.  In August of 2016, a Judge denied evidence using STRMix, which was new DNA technology, to be admitted into the trial. After a two-week long trial, Hillary was acquitted.

If you or anyone you know has any information in the strangulation death of Garrett Phillips, please contact Potsdam authorities at 315-265-2121.


The New York Times


The New York Times

10 thoughts on “The Murder of Garrett Phillips

  • The st. Lawrence river doesn’t even go near Potsdam so how is it splitting potsdam in two LMFAO prayers they find Justice for him

  • they definitely had the one who killed Garrett so there will never ever be justice for him. When you have a multi millionaire paying for your lawyers which he had fired his previous four or five lawyers before she came on board. And yes it is a big question why did the judge not allow the DNA evidence under Garretts fingernails which pointed to Hillary to not be allowed in trial but it’s over now I just hope my nephew can rest in peace and he is with his dad ??

  • What about the 2 kids who lived next door who left town right away?
    The finger prints and 150 pieces of DNA found at the scene?
    Has anyone tested that evidence against those 2 kids and if not why not?
    Why was the entire county ready to lynch a black kan with no evidence but unwilling to demand law enforcement find and analyze dna of people who left town after giving inconsistent statements.
    The truth is clear but racists and currupt powers have covered it for 8 years.

    • THIS!! You are so correct. This country scares the shit out of me. The justice system is run by a club and if the club don’t like you, your life is over. Best decision Nick ever made was to forego a jury trial. This family talks like he got a fancy lawyer because he was guilty. He needed to spend millions because he was innocent and being set up! What an incredibly vapid perspective they have.

  • What about the injury on his ankle bone, and the lie he told about not having any injuries and when asked he states oh, I hurt in on some furniture.What about the fact that he goes left to go home, for what reason, what about the cell phone text from his daughter saying what’s for dinner at 6:20pm, when he said and she said they discussed dinner at around 5pm. What about him telling the reporter that he never had any problems with her boys, when there are several texts from the mother siting the reason for the breakup was that the boys didn’t like him. What about the DNA, did he have a key, that was also mentioned as a possibility.

    • First, I am so sorry for the mother and family of Garrett. The articles I’ve read and the HBO series shows the prosecution case against Nick Hillary was detailed. He had motive. There was evidence of Hillary following after Garrett on his skateboard. Hillary had no reason to turn left instead of right to go directly home. Hillary is intelligent enough to be careful not to be seen. If a neighborhood kid had strangled Garrett there would be evidence such as DNA as well as carelessness. Garrett would have been able to fight and create a scene or noises if he was facing someone nearer to his age, physical size and strength. The only person who gave Hillary an alibi was his daughter. I pray peace for the family of Garrett and justice for the killer.

  • The reason DNA evidence wasn’t used because software used to get it is so easily manipulated to provide corresponding results it cannot be trusted as an objective scientific test.

    “All of these software developers say that it’s an objective system, and it deconvolutes mixtures that could never be done before,” said Allan Jamieson, of the Forensic Institute, a defense expert on the Criner case. “Well, it’s not really objective, because somebody has to choose which peaks are going to be plugged into the machine. This case exemplified that, because they actually ran it first, got a number that didn’t suit them, and so they changed the parameters and ran it again—and got a number that suited them better.”

    Fairly obvious police hyper focused on someone instead of doing true investigation.

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