The Shootist

Terry Anderson thought he'd be in Athens right now, chasing his lifelong dream of Olympic gold. Instead, he's in prison, his life plugged full of holes.

"You have to transform yourself into someone who can accept success," he says. "It's my form of perfecting myself internally."

After shooting at St. Ives one day in 1969, Anderson racked up a score that could have won the previous year's Olympics. From that day on, he saw nothing but gold--Olympic gold.

Marylynn was right about one thing: Anderson killed his first wife.
Marylynn Anderson feared for her life after finding her husband's cache of secret weapons.
Marylynn Anderson feared for her life after finding her husband's cache of secret weapons.
Terry Anderson won 17 national titles as a shooter and made two Olympic teams.
Photo courtesy of
Terry Anderson won 17 national titles as a shooter and made two Olympic teams.

Babette was an intelligent, lively art student with dark hair and big breasts. They married in November 1966, when both were about 21. After four months of marriage, the couple went on a kangaroo-hunting trip with a friend whose family owned one of Australia's vast farming "properties," where the marsupials can destroy 80 percent of the crops.

Anderson was carrying Babette's rifle, an old family weapon her father had given her. "I pulled it back to chamber a round, and it went off," Anderson says. Struck in the head, Babette died in Anderson's arms.

Ballistics tests revealed the rifle had a defective firing mechanism, Anderson says. After an inquest, Babette's death was ruled accidental. For six months, Anderson says, he was a "babbling mess." The only solace he found was on the firing range.

On their first date in 1975, Anderson picked up Marylynn in a Lincoln--his other car was a Jensen Interceptor--and whisked her to a restaurant near the French Quarter. Marylynn was a 19-year-old student at the University of New Orleans. Like Babette, she was intelligent and opinionated. And she looked enough like Babette, with dark hair, large light-blue eyes and a full figure, to be her sister. He was 30 and taking some UNO classes.

Anderson told her he was "independently wealthy," waiting out the recession before starting a business. "He was tall, handsome and charming," Marylynn says. And there was that accent. "I was absolutely mesmerized."

In pursuit of his Olympic dream, Anderson had shifted loyalties from Australia to the United States. Australia had sent only one rapid-fire marksman to the 1972 Olympics; ranked No. 3, Anderson didn't go. While visiting America in 1973, Anderson flew to Fort Benning, home of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. "I wanted to meet the best in the world," Anderson says. "I wanted to meet Jim McNally."

Anderson trained several days with McNally. Believing America supported its shooting teams more than Australia, Anderson told his second wife, a Dutch swimsuit model who looked like Britt Ekland, that they were moving. They settled in Gulfport, Mississippi. Initially, Anderson couldn't compete for the Olympic team; he had to be a citizen for three years. But he heard that joining the National Guard could speed up the process. In April 1974, he was sweating his way through basic training when McNally tipped him that Brazil's Olympic committee was looking for a pistol coach.

Anderson took the Brazilian job with the conditions that the National Guard put him on active duty so he could retain amateur status and that immigration accelerate his citizenship. Anderson got his American passport in June and flew to Brazil.

His second marriage ended about the same time. Anderson says they split because she was unfaithful; Marylynn says they divorced over his obsession with shooting. "Terry told me his former wife had given him an ultimatum--her or shooting," Marylynn says. "He chose shooting." Anderson made it clear to his third wife that shooting was his life, his raison d'être.

Marylynn didn't view Anderson's sentiments with alarm. "I thought it was fair," she says. "He was establishing the ground rules of the relationship."

When Anderson returned, he also lost a business partner, McNally, who'd retired from the Army in 1974 to go into business with Anderson. "I invested in the houses he was building," McNally says. "He went to Brazil and left me trying to sell the houses." After the loss of several thousand dollars, he severed ties with Anderson.

"Anderson was very self-centered," McNally says. "He didn't do anything he didn't want to do. As far as I know, he screwed everybody he came into contact with." (Anderson says they broke ranks over importing target pistols.)

Even in the '70s, Anderson had a fascination with weapons. "Terry gave me a box full of things to hold for him while he was in the National Guard," McNally says. "It was tear gas grenades and some other military pyrotechnics. I got rid of them. I turned them into ordnance. I assumed they were illegal." (Anderson says he doesn't remember this.)

After Anderson and Marylynn wed in 1976, they moved into a house on Lake Pontchartrain and began renovating it to sell later. But Anderson says Marylynn's troubled past moved in with them. Anderson learned that her father--whom Marylynn called "the sperm donor"--had abandoned the family when she was 8. Marylynn had been verbally and physically abused by her mother and a stepfather. Oftentimes Marylynn would have nightmares and wake up in tears.

While agreeing that there was abuse, Marylynn says, "It has not been a big issue in my marriage. We never talked about it."

If Anderson was ever sad, she never saw it. Except once.

Anderson had told Marylynn only that his first wife had died in an accident. Two years into the marriage, they were visiting Australia when a family friend told her the details.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help