Serial killer Garland Milam: “addicted to sucking souls out of people”

“I got addicted to sucking the souls out of people that I was killing,” Garland Milam told law enforcement. “And I’m going to do it again if I don’t get the death penalty.”
Garland Ray Milam traveled cross-country as an adult, continually fighting an urge. Sometimes he took drugs, hoping it would stop or at least temporarily control the impulse. Garland Milam had an urge to murder. He did fine in stopping the compulsion to take a life whenever it came upon him, flooding his senses like an addiction.
Serial killer Garland Milam (Nashville PD)
But in July 2005 in Nashville, Tennessee, Milam lost control, and two men lost their lives.
Milam, born in April 1965, was removed by state social services from his mother’s home at the age of ten. He would later remember his mother as a biker who worked as a topless dancer, an alcoholic who introduced him to crystal meth. The boy went to go live with his aunt. As an adult, he would be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; he blamed it on abuse suffered at her hand.  She would counter he was “an uncontrollable child.” An angry child, he says, “I was taking a lot of the rage and anger that I had out on small animals.” He killed puppies and kittens by snapping the necks and smothering them.
When he was a teenager, Milam struck out on his own, finding a job at a diner. He lived on a goat farm. Staying busy kept the urge to murder at bay, but when laid off from his job, the urge overtook him, and he tortured and smothered some of the baby goats.
 “The wandering, the traveling, and the hitchhiking – as long as I was constantly moving, it seemed like I evaded the desire to kill.” When the urge bubbled to the surface, he turned to marijuana and crack cocaine to curb the desire.
In 1995, Milam’s brother Tommy found him a job in Florida, but Milam didn’t stick around. He would say he began having impulses to kill Tommy, so he ran, hitting the road again. The desire to kill “was an internal beast.” In December 2005. Garland Milam ended up in Nashville, Tennessee. It would prove fatal for two men.
In Antioch, located southeast of Nashville, Milam set up a camp spot near other homeless men in an embankment about 300 yards behind a strip mall. Police would later express surprise at how clean his camp was, and how clean Milam kept himself. Milam would make friends with Tim McCoy and Johnny Paul Davis, both 48, who also set up camp in the woods.
Then came the day where Milam would earn the mane “Soul Sucker” from the Nashville media.
One story was Garland Milam asked Tim McCoy to chip in money together to purchase alcohol; McCoy agreed then decided he was not going to put in his money. An argument ensued, and Milam could not stop the urge this time: he murdered Tim McCoy by dropping a money belt around the man’s neck and pulling it tight. Milam told others that McCoy kicked Milam “a good one – almost broke my leg.” Milam then reported, “He quit moving, and his soul rode the last breath out of his body, and I – ffffpppp – inhaled it.” Then he placed the body into a tent and set it on fire, setting it up so it would appear to be an accident. He even met with a detective as a witness to the fire: he had been with McCoy the night before, Milam told the detective, and that morning had come upon the still smoldering fire.
The next day, Milam told Davis the details of how he murdered McCoy. Davis asked, “Why did you tell me this?” Milam replied, “Well, because now I have to kill you. I am going to give you a five-minute head start to get out of my camp before I kill you.” But Davis was so drunk he could not run. Milam told Davis as he strangled him, “I’m doing this to put you out of your misery.” He tried but did not manage to “suck the soul” of Davis. “I think I missed it.”
Milam equated killing with getting high, but it was better than crystal meth: he reported there is tingling all over the body while committing murder, a rush that makes him lose control, including his bowels. He said, “I didn’t like a messy killing.”
Milam turned himself in, walking to a nearby grocery store. He told a store employee he was turning himself in for murder, to please call the police.
Milam would later confess to killing a Tucson, Arizona man with a machete, and severely beating a Topeka, Kansas man with a ball bat.
On January 24, 2007,  Milam pled guilty to the murders of Tim McCoy and Johnny Paul Davis. He requested the death penalty. “I know that I’m a monster,” he told the judge. Instead, he received two 51-year sentences to run consecutively. Garland Ray Milam is incarcerated in the Tennessee Department of Corrections in Clifton. He has never expressed remorse about his crimes.

Fly, C. (July 27, 2005) “Drifter Charged With two Homeless Murders in Nashville.” Southern Standard. McMinnville, TN.
Drifter Says He Tried To Outrun Need To Kill. (September 29, 2005) The Tennessean.
Homeless Killer Reveals Details of Murders. (January 25, 2007)
Homeless Man Strangled With Leash (August 16, 2005). Source not cited, appears on
Man Admits To Committing More Than Two Murders.  (August 16, 2005). News Channel Posted on Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty.


  1. Replies
    1. I'm sorry for your families pain. I wish he could have found the help he needed. I hope your family has found a way to help with your pain and loss.


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