DNA Solves Horrific 1996 Grand Rapids Murder
Kent County Sheriff Michele Lajoye-Young revealed Monday morning that a Florida man has been arrested by KCSO detectives in relation to a cold case murder from 1996 in Caledonia.
DNA Evidence Led To Solving The 1996 Murder Of Sharon Kay Hammock
Hammock's body was left strangled and hogtied by the side of 76th Street in Caledonia on October 3, 1996. Her murder was left unsolved until DNA evidence brought forth in a similar Maryland case linked that killer to Hammock's murder.
Garry Dean Artman, a 64-year-old truck driver from Florida who is currently being held in Mississippi, will be extradited to Michigan after charges were filed in the case by the Kent County Sheriff's Department on Friday. Artman admitted he was in Grand Rapids at the time of the murder.
After learning that the DNA from the Maryland case was the same as the DNA found in the Hammock murder, a sheriff's detective submitted the DNA to a genealogy site. The site eventually came back with a hit of related DNA to the parents of five boys, one of whom was Artman.
Charges of open murder, felony murder, and criminal sexual conduct were filed by the Kent County Prosecutor's Office. The KCSO was assisted by the Michigan State Police Crime Lab.
Artman May Have Been Behind As Many As 12 Similar Crimes In The Area
The arrest of Artman is leading many to wonder how many of 12 women who had similar cold cases, beginning in March of 1994 and lasting until 1997, may have been his victims.
WOOD-TV looked into the cases of the unsolved murders of those women that seemed to have similar characteristics.
Many of the victims were like Hammock, working in the sex trade at the time, and were found along roads in the area, or in area parks.
Kent County Sheriff Says She Can't Speak To The Other Cases, Yet
Lajoye-Young mentioned at Monday's Press Conference that while she could not comment directly on any other specific cases that may be tied to Artman, she did say the department is looking to see if he can be tied to other cold cases.
It may be difficult in some of the cases, as the remains of victims had decomposed past the point of obtaining DNA evidence.
Hammock's Family Relieved To Have Closure On Her Death
One of Hammock's surviving sisters, Tina DeYoung, told WOOD-TV Friday, “It’s just a flood of emotions. I’m happy, but I’m sad too.”
Hammack’s parents, Jacob and Lois Gross, have both passed.
“Mama, we got justice for her,” DeYoung told WOOD's Target 8, who has been investigating all 12 area cold cases. “I’m sorry it didn’t happen before the good Lord took you, but justice will be served. You can celebrate with her up there.”