Convicted murderer arrested in Mississippi interviewed before dying of terminal cancer, may be key to unsolved homicides across country

Published 9:12 am Thursday, January 4, 2024

Authorities are looking into missing persons cases and unsolved homicides across the country after interviewing a convicted murderer arrested in Mississippi who died last week in a prison hospital after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Garry Artman was arrested in 2022 in Mississippi and was convicted in September of the 1996 rape and murder of Sharon Hammack, 29, in Kent County, Michigan.

Artman, 66, had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He was sentenced in October to life in prison without parole.

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Investigators believe that Artman, a long haul-truck driver, may be connected to other slayings in other parts of the country.

Artman had been living in White Springs, Florida, before being arrested in Mississippi. Kent County investigators identified him as a suspect in Hammack’s slaying through DNA analyzed by a forensic genetic genealogist.

His DNA also matched DNA in the 2006 murder of Artman 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..

Kent County sheriff’s detectives questioned Artman on three occasions before his death Thursday at a state Corrections health facility in Jackson, Michigan.

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.

Kent County sheriff’s investigators previously 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.

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.

John Pyrski, Artman’s court-appointed lawyer, told The Associated Press Wednesday that he didn’t know if Artman had committed other murders. But “if he did, I’m glad he made everything right in the end” by disclosing them, Pyrski added.

Artman previously served about a decade in Michigan prisons following convictions for criminal sexual conduct in 1981.