Ordinary School Day Turns into Horror – 1981

November 28, 2007

Six weeks into my 9th grade year in 1981, when I was a fresh-faced newcomer to the campus of Greenville High School in my hometown in South Carolina, a suspended student came to the campus and stabbed a teacher in the chest with a knife during second period.

I was in a nearby classroom when we heard the screams of students in Henry Chiarello’s class who witnessed the event. At first I thought the screams were joyful, perhaps coming from some assembly or pep rally my class had not been invited to. Soon, though, as more students spilled out of their classrooms and saw the teacher on the hallway floor with blood spewing from his wound, it became clear that we were hearing screams of terror. The rest of the day became a blur.

It has been a long time since I thought about that day more than 25 years ago, but when I was visiting South Carolina over the Thanksgiving holiday, the subject came up during a family conversation. The next day I went to the new public library and researched the story in the microfilm files for the local newspaper.

Here is the headline of the afternoon paper, which went to press while our teacher was still in intensive care after the attack. Here is the next day’s headline, and the jump page, published after he died on the operating table during a second round of open-chest surgery. Here is a third article addressing school security policies after the crime. Finally, here is Mr. Chiarello’s obituary.

His killer, an 18-year old student named Jewel Garrett, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 20 years. I understand she has come up for parole on at least two occasions, but has not been released. I hope she will spend her life in prison and that she thinks about her unspeakable act on a daily basis.

The irony of the story is that she intended to attack another teacher, but she knocked on the wrong classroom door.*

RIP Mr. Chiarello. You did not deserve this.

[ * Update: After replying by email to the comment below and learning more from Mr. Chiarello’s sister, the myth of his being the unintended victim has been disproven. I credit that misperception to the rumors flying around school that day and in the weeks after. As one would expect, the family still grieves.]


20 Responses to “Ordinary School Day Turns into Horror – 1981”

  1. Diane McGee Says:

    I am Henry Chiariello’s sister. This is the first I heard that Jewell’s target was another teacher. If anyone has information about this, please contact me. dcmcgee@comcast.net

    Our family still has so many unanswered questions.

    • raycio woody Says:

      She was in love with him and he thought that it was very inappropriate . He felt uncomfortable and asked her to stay away from him. She snapped.
      THIS IS RAYCIO using a family member’s fb account.

  2. robert roper Says:

    this the first i have heard also of another teacher as a target. i was one of the students who was on the greenville high wrestling team and was also in coach charillos class. he was a wonderful teacher friend and he had nothing but love for all his students he didnot desrve this and i think of him all the time and i hope that jewell garrett rotes in prison and has to repeat that day in her mind for all eternity.

  3. michelle Says:

    I remember that day all too well, it was also my first 6 weeks of 9th grade,and ironically enough, the subject of that day came up over the past Christmas holiday. I remember I was in gym class,and we were in the locker room getting ready to go to our next class which would have been Coach Chiarello’s(as we called him)class. Most of us hated Economics, and when the announcement came that his classes were to report to the gym until further notice, we had a little yell of excitement. However, we would soon find out that it would be a day we would never forget. It was totally unbelievable when the news spread. It’sone thing to hear of such an occurrence in another school, but when it happens at your school, and you know or know of the victim, it has a whole new take on things. I can only imagine the horror of those who were unfortunate to have to witness the whole incident. I did go to the funeral,which was one of the saddest I have ever attended. It all comes to mind every October, that day,that unbelievable day,that oculd have turned out so different. I remember having the “jeebies” when we returned to that very classroom. I think it should have just been closed,off limits. As time went by though,I didn’t think about it as much. My heart goes out to the family. Coach Chiarello won’t soon be forgotten.

  4. MRP Says:

    I just happen to come across this post due to a previous conversation with team members about female killers and I shared an experience with them. This experience led me to Google, to see if there was any infomation about it.

    I was a student who was in the class and I saw the whole thing. “Coach” was my favorite teacher and if I recall, he was teaching a geography or history class that day. I remember there was a knock on the door, and Jewell entered. I’m leaving out some detail because it was long ago. I was just a few feet from him, sitting down at my desk and remember seeing her hit Coach in the chest and all of us laughed becuase we did not know what really happened. I can visualize this a clear as day: He muttered, “Oh its a knife!” and when he moved his hand from his chest, we saw the blood. He stumbled to the door and into the hall way. We all (the class he was teaching) screamed, ran for cover, cried…it was a total horror. I saw one of the male teachers later coming to his rescue…Mr. Madrazzo I think. That whole day felt like HELL!!!!

    I was confused, hurt, angry, terrorfied, scared and in total shock. There were rumors of why she did it, but I will not speak about it. They were just rumors. We all miss Coach Chiarello and one sad thing, among others, is that he either had a recent birthday or it was coming up and I think I heard that he was engaged to be married. I could be mistaken.

    Thinking about this now from almost 30 years ago still bring sadness to my heart and I wish his family the best. He is still missed and he loved his students. We loved him too!!!!!

    • Dawn Says:

      I was in the class next door – and yes – Mr. Madrazzo did help him – I was in Mrs. White’s Class – Madrazzo was my bus driver too – I remember him asking us all for our coats to keep Coach from bleeding – it was a scary day

  5. lisa Says:

    He slept with her and didn’t she have a baby by him. Did he not sleep with alot of other girls and that school. What happen to baby?

    • Albertina Says:

      Is this true? A baby? If it is true right before a wedding? Then of course it had to be covered up and something more to this story than just a Black female stabbing her teacher in the heart. The HEART is where people feel pain whether its love or anything else it is a reason why out touch with reality she did such a act and the part of the body where she did it in her mind at that time out of control it sooooooo Obvious she was not herself. I dont know about the great coach family but i know one thing if he was wrong and this woman lost her mind and hurt him over a act he commited against her “Coach was so nice always having kids over showing them life skills” whether love or not she was a TEEN! But as ususal it it is a color thing because there’s more to this. Lets be real this Coach sound too perfect to be true? Have you check the news lately alot of these coaches all in the Media at colleges, churches schools etc prey on their students this did not just start recently figures in power that kids look up to taking advantage of what ppl view them rather being who they really are. Am sure their are adults today that has been preyed upon with niceness and gifts and life lessons such as coaching. I am very CURIOUS as to why anyone with common sense would not see past the greatest teacher comments NO ONE IN THIS WORLD IS THIS PERFECT sorry! Lets find out the truth shall we?? Smh as the comment below states to ask the Black Community why not say the truth i bet they know why this young lady did such a horrible act! Im ashamed and offended by the ignorance that this was just covered up with a simple he’s so nice he went the extra mile for ALL the kids? Smh so typical this young lady should have been guilty by mental illness or insanity either way if she’s in jail with no treatment and no rehab of course she would get worse. If anyone knows the truth or has the guts to really find out please post the truth should always be revealed whether old news or not some ppl and their families deserve to rest in peace and the only way for that to happen in any situation is the real truth to be told.

      • Sharon Says:

        I really like what you said if everybody thought like this the world would be little bit better.

      • Micah Says:

        I heard the exact same story about the baby and all. I also heard that they made her have an abortion when she went to prison to cover up the real truth. It’s a sad story, but even a nice coach should not sleep with a child. He should know how to behave and set an example for his students. It would be nice to know what really caused this horror.

  6. lisa Says:

    Tell the brother before he write that book ask the Black community what all happen before you lie on her. Yes she was wrong to kill him but what about him.

  7. L. Chiariello Says:

    Such a sad story. I’m a teacher myself, the violence is our enemy.
    Pray for him and all victims.



    • Johnny Says:

      Can either Lisa or Raycio please tell the whole story… What else went on…

      • Sha T. Says:

        I was reading up on this case today because a family friend has talked about it before. She knew Jewel and the family. She has maintained that Garrett and the teacher were having an affair and quite a few of the Black students at Greenville High knew about it. Everyone was so upset because the media, law enforcement and the school kept that information out of the official records. There was a reason there were love letters. I am not trying to damage the teacher’s reputation, but there is definitely a truth out there that has not been told…

  9. Jessica W-L Says:

    I grew up in the same neighborhood with the Garrett family. Jewel was one class ahead of me. She was up until a year or so before the killing a “normal” beautiful girl. Something happened to Jewe!. Her personality changed drastically. She became violent and unpredictable. I KNOW that she assaulted and cut a very good friend of mine in the face on our bus weeks before the killing….that is why she was expelled from school. In our neighborhood the rumor was that Jewel “got a hold of some bad drugs”. Mrs Garrett tried really hard to get help for her child. I am in no way defending her!! I loved Coach Cerillo too…..he was a great guy. I don’t beleive that he was sleeping with her…..or any of the other students. She was mentally ill then and still is today. I don’t mean that she should not have been punished for the what she did…..just that she needed mental help. None of this came out in the trial that took place less than six months after the killing!! This is not a Black/White issue people……this is a total TRAGEDY for ALL involved. Coach Cerillo….his family…the students of GHS…..Jewel’s family and yes even Jewel!!

  10. Dawn Says:

    I was in Mrs. White’s room -next to Chiarello’s – heard laughing just before the screams and the tables hitting the wall – saw him walking to Mr. Madrazo’s room where the students thought it was a joke before realizing it wasn’t – Chirello fell in front of Mrs. White’s door – a day I will never forget. My father removed me from the school 48hrs later and I went to Switzerland.

  11. Gwen k c Says:

    My family and the Garrett’s grew up together. I do believe there is more to this story than all that was said. RIP Jewell you are finally free

  12. Lori Jennings Says:

    I too, was there, that day Oct 2, 1981 upstairs on the 3rd Floor. We heard a loud thundrous noise of commotion as people poured into the hallways below us. We remained still and quiet in our 3rd floor class until someone came to the door and told our teacher what had happened. I was concerned for my boyfriend (now husband) who was on the second floor, not knowing where he was or what was going on. I later found out that my husband, Harold Jennings, was one of the first students to get to him and get ice to apply to his chest wound. To my knowledge, the Coach died on his 30th Birthday, October 2. He was to be married in December. If I am wrong on this, I never heard different. I did hear Jewel had feelings for him. A sad, sad day of our high school career we will never forget. There was a moment of silence at the football game that night. With black armbands on, everyone stood in silence for the Coach. Very surreal. I always think of that time, when October rolls around…….

  13. GGirl94 Says:

    My boyfriend’s Aunt was is that class and saw her stab him.

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