Authorities in western Michigan are looking into missing persons cases and unsolved homicides after interviewing a convicted murderer and long-haul truck driver with terminal cancer who died last week in a prison hospital.
Kent County sheriff’s detectives questioned Garry Artman on three occasions before his death Thursday at a state corrections health facility in Jackson, Michigan. Artman was also facing murder charges.
Kent County Lt. Eric Brunner said detectives “gleaned information” from their interviews with Artman and are collaborating with other law enforcement agencies to “connect the dots with missing pieces or homicide cases that are still open.”
Brunner would not say which unsolved cases are being looked into or how many cases are being investigated, although police in Grand Rapids, Michigan, have tied Artman to a woman’s disappearance nearly 30 years ago.
“Interviews with Artman provided enough information to reasonably conclude he was involved in the 1995 disappearance of Cathleen Dennis but that it is very unlikely that Dennis’ body will ever be found,” a Grand Rapids Police spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Grand Rapids detectives also met with Artman before his death and are trying to determine if he is connected to other missing persons or homicide cases in that city, the spokeswoman said in an email.
WOOD-TV first reported Artman was being investigated in other cases.
John Pyrski, Artman’s court-appointed lawyer, told The Associated Press Wednesday that he didn’t know if Artman had committed other killings. But “if he did, I’m glad he made everything right in the end” by disclosing them, Pyrski added.
Artman, 66, had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. A Michigan jury in September convicted him of the 1996 rape and murder of Sharon Hammack, 29, in Kent County. He was sentenced in October to life in prison without parole.
Artman also faced murder charges in the 2006 slaying of Dusty Shuck, 24, in Maryland. Shuck was from Silver City, New Mexico. Her body was found near a truck stop along an interstate outside New Market, Maryland.
Maryland State Police said in 2022 that the Michigan State Police crime lab confirmed that Artman’s DNA profile was a match to a 2006 homicide investigated by Maryland State Police.
Investigators from the Kent County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan provided Maryland State Police investigators with a DNA swab, which was then tested by forensic analysts from the Maryland State Police crime lab, confirming the match with Artman.
The case, filed in Frederick County in 2022, remained listed as open on Wednesday.
Artman, who had been living in White Springs, Florida, was arrested in 2022 in Mississippi after Kent County investigators identified him as a suspect in Hammack’s slaying through DNA analyzed by a forensic genetic genealogist.
Kent County sheriff’s investigators later searched a storage unit in Florida believed to belong to Artman and found several pieces of women’s underwear that were seized for biological evidence to determine whether there were other victims, Maryland State Police said in a 2022 news release.
Artman previously served about a decade in Michigan prisons following convictions for criminal sexual conduct in 1981.