Longtime obscene caller sent to prison S. Baltimore dockworker confessed to thousands of calls over 23 years.

October 11, 1991|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Evening Sun Staff

A South Baltimore dockworker, who police say was the so-called "bridal caller" who made more than 3,000 obscene phone calls in the last 23 years, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, with all but 18 months suspended.

Victor Herbert Gardner, 46, of the 1100 block of Hull St., was sentenced yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court by Judge William R. Buchanan Sr., who is allowing Gardner to serve his time at the county detention center.

The sentence means Gardner, who police arrested in January after years of vain efforts to track him down, can continue to receive therapy at the Sexual Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital. It also means Gardner will be eligible for work release and could continue to work at his job at the Locust Point Marine terminal.

"I wanted some time of incarceration and I got that," said Pete Johnson, the prosecutor in the case, when asked if he was satisfied with the outcome.

Gardner, who police had nicknamed the "bridal" or "kidnap" caller over the years, signed a nine-page statement confessing to making obscene calls over the past 23 years.

In May, when he was convicted, Gardner pleaded guilty to five counts of telephone misuse, stemming from obscene calls made in 1990. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped 34 other charges.

The bridal caller became legendary over the years for the way he terrorized women over the telephone.

Typically, police said, the man would call a woman and claim to have kidnapped a friend or loved one. The caller would demand that the women do something perverted, while he listened.

Police say the man would scan wedding and engagement announcements in The Sun and other newspapers to get the names of brides or bridesmaids. He also would call college dormitories and pay phones at local colleges, particularly Goucher College and the College of Notre Dame.

The break in the case came in the spring of 1990, when security officials at Goucher and Notre Dame told students about the caller and urged them to use the new C&P Telephone Co. feature, Caller-Trace.

If *57 were punched in after a crank call, the phone company's computer would trace and record from where the call had come.

Police managed to track many of the crank calls to a phone booth at the Locust Point Marine terminal. By watching who went into the phone booth and by keeping track of outgoing calls from the booth, police were able to link Gardner to the calls.

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