Man Accused Of Savagely Beating Woman, Murdering Her Two Children, Dies On Death Row
“I wanted to see Arthur Lee Gales suffer, I really did,” Judy Chandler says of her children’s killer.
A Nebraska man was condemned to death after he brutally murdered two children he feared could potentially serve as witnesses against him for beating their mother.
On the morning of Nov. 12, 2000, Omaha police responding to a 911 call about an injured woman found Judy Chandler, 36, severely injured in the snow and determined an assailant had bashed her head into nearby railroad tracks.
Judy indicated to detectives she knew who was responsible for her beating but was incapable of providing a name before she was placed into a medically induced coma.
When Lt. Catherine Milone and another officer went to Judy’s apartment, they discovered the body of her daughter, Latara Chandler, 13, nude from the waist down in a bedroom. The teenager’s 7-year-old brother, Tramar Chandler, was lying dead in the bathtub.
An autopsy determined Latara had been sexually assaulted and strangled to death, while Tramar was strangled and drowned.
“I was sickened at what I saw and how somebody could do that to the kids,” Milone recalled. “It’s a lot to grasp and a lot to deal with.”
Investigators collected multiple pieces of evidence in the home, including a used condom and a towel near Latara’s body.
Two months after her savage beating, Judy came out of the coma, and all she could think about was her two children and wonder where they were.
“When I first woke up, I was confused, and I was scared,” she said.
Days later, doctors determined Judy was strong enough to learn the tragic fate of her daughter and son.
For months afterward, Judy continued to be unable to identify whoever attacked her because of the severe head trauma she suffered — until one day when she remembered in a flash that she had gone out with someone named Lee the evening of the incident.
Investigators were able to track down the man, Arthur Lee Gales, based on local robberies that matched up with information Judy had provided.
DNA definitively linked Gales to the grieving mother’s beating and her children’s deaths, and police placed him under arrest.
At trial, prosecutors contended Gale beat up Judy while they were on a date and left her for dead. Gales, prosecutors believed, feared Judy’s two children could place him with their mother that evening, so he returned to the family’s apartment and murdered her daughter and son.
On Aug. 27, 2001, a jury found Gales, then 36, guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted second-degree murder. A judge sentenced him to death for the children’s slayings.
After 21 years on death row at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, Gales died of natural causes in April 2022.
“I wanted to see Arthur Lee Gales suffer, I really did,” Judy said of his death. “So, in a way, I feel like I was cheated.”
For more on this case, watch “The Only Witness” on Evil Lives Here: Shadows of Death on May 8 on ID or stream on discovery+.