Real Name: Gary L. Grant Jr.
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey
Date: January 12, 1984
Details: A teacher's conference on Thursday, January 12, 1984, gave seven-year-old Gary L. Grant Jr. of Atlantic City, New Jersey the day off school. At breakfast, he mentioned to his mother May that he had an "appointment" at 2:30 PM, the details of which were secret. Around noon, he went outside to play, saying he'd be back by 4:00 PM. When he failed to return, his mother began to worry. She went to the house where two of Gary's friends lived, and they said that Gary had been there but left to go home around 4:30 PM. After two hours had passed, May called her husband Gary L. Grant Sr., a police detective. Gary Sr. took the night off work and searched the area fruitlessly until around 1 or 2 AM.
By Friday morning, the police were searching for Gary. Gary Sr. was prevented from joining the official search due to regulations, so he began investigating independently. During his investigation, he met several people who remembered seeing Gary early that morning. A man named Robert Hughey realized that the disappearance was near a warehouse he owned and searched the property. At 3:30 PM on Saturday, he discovered Gary's body in a vacant lot near the warehouse, less than two blocks from his home. Police noted that he had been bludgeoned to death and that a length of pipe was near his body. Around the same time, Gary Sr. came upon the scene and had to be restrained when he realized what happened.
Nearly two years later, on January 4, 1986, a message on the side of a police car was discovered around 3:00 AM. The message read "Gary Grant is dead. I am living. Another will die on the 1/12/86 if all goes right." The date inscribed was the second anniversary of Gary's murder. A few weeks later, another message was found scratched into a sidewalk, reading "Gary Grant Jr. lives. I still killed him. Son of a pig officer. Payback is a M.F." This message led to the belief that Gary was killed as revenge against his father, possibly by someone he arrested.
Gary Sr. is still independently investigating his son's murder and hopes that it can be solved.
Suspects: On the day that Gary's body was found, investigators began questioning people in the area. One person mentioned seeing Gary on Thursday near the local middle school with Carl "Boo" Mason, a developmentally-disabled twelve-year-old friend. When questioned, Carl said he last saw Gary on Wednesday when they rode their bikes at Texas Avenue Park. The two had planned to meet on Thursday but Gary never showed up. Many people that detectives questioned said Carl and Gary had met on Thursday.
By midnight, Carl, accompanied by his grandmother, was taken to police headquarters. He was separated from his grandmother and questioned. His responses were inconsistent and his recollection frequently changed. Around 3:00 AM, Carl said he had not only been with Gary at the crime scene but that he had hit him, leaving when Gary fell and didn't stand up again. Police felt Carl knew things only the killer would know and typed up a confession for him and his grandmother to sign. Though he insisted he hadn't murdered Gary, Carl signed the confession, believing he would get to go home if he did.
Carl was charged with murder and moved to a juvenile detention center. On Sunday, January 15, Carl was given a polygraph exam, which yielded inconclusive results. A second exam was given on January 18. Both tests agreed that Carl was telling the truth about not killing Gary, but doubted that he was telling the truth about not being at the crime scene. A month after Carl's arrest, a hearing determined that Carl's confession was not admissible evidence, as none of the statements were made voluntarily. The charges against Carl were dropped.
Gary Sr. believes Carl's older brother, who was arrested on robbery charges days before Gary's murder, may have tried to force Gary into taking part in a scheme where he used children to rob houses. In such a situation, Gary, the son of a police officer, would likely refuse and instead try to inform the police, which could have led to his murder as an attempt to silence him.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the December 1, 1993 episode of Unsolved Mysteries. A reward of $15,000 is being offered for this case.
Gary Sr., who now lives in Puerto Rico, had started a Facebook page in memory of his son; this site is no longer available.
Results: Unsolved. Gary's murderer(s) has never been caught or identified nor has the author of the messages. However, his father recently found a tape which contained two 911 calls about the case. The first call occurred on March 8, 1986; the caller claimed to be the killer and asked about receiving a reward for turning himself in. He ended the call by stating that they would never catch him. The second call occurred on June 2, 1986; the caller claimed that Gary's killer had confessed to him. He claimed that the killer had committed the crime because of an arrest Gary Sr. made. The caller has never been identified and it is unknown if he is actually involved in the murder.
- Gary's Case on Unsolved.com
- Atlantic City child murder cold case could heat up after new discovery
- Audiotape offers clue in Gary Grant Jr.'s 1984 Atlantic City slaying