Marty James Shook, a 22-year-old hitchhiker, was killed execution-style seven years ago.
A fisherman found Shook's nude body beside U.S. 40 in Daniels Canyon. He had been shot in the back of the head and was sexually mutilated - an ugly crime with absolutely no leads.Until last month.
Wasatch County Sheriff's Detective Stevan Ridge was notified that the homicide was positively linked to a similar killing in Pennsylvania in 1981.
The new information was the first major break in the Shook case and has detectives looking for the path of a serial killer who may also be responsible for similar deaths in Wyoming, Connecticut and Georgia.
Ridge was lucky. Most homicides that aren't cleared within a few months remain inactive indefinitely. And until Ridge gets a suspect, the Shook case will continue to be listed with the other unsolved homicides and mysterious disappearances of the 1980s.
Those cases - 73 homicides and eight mysterious disappearances, to be exact - are part of what plagues a society looking forward to a new decade. They represent its unfinished business and inability to keep people safe from violence, said Kay Gillespie, a Weber State College professor who specializes in criminology.
"Society needs to see an offender apprehended almost immediately or in a short period of time," Gillespie said. "Unsolved cases bring a lack of confidence and frustration in the justice system . . . There's always the fear that the person is still out there."
Some counties have no unsolved cases; others seem to have more than their share.
"One's too many," said Morgan County Sheriff Bert Holbrook, whose agency is still trying to find the sniper who killed a truck driver on I-84.
With the exception of only a handful of cases, leads have long since fizzled. Often, the police can't remember the details of the crime without referring to their files. In one instance, an agency couldn't even find the file for a couple of days.
Evidence gets scarcer with time and witnesses become less likely to do their moral duty.
Meanwhile, the killers - whatever they may be doing now with their lives - feel secure in the knowledge that they have literally gotten away with murder.
In addition to puzzling investigators and causing untold grief for the families of the victims, the cases provide grim reminders that Utah is no stranger to the macabre.
Of the 73 unsolved homicides, 31 involve shootings, 20 beatings, 17 stabbings and six are strangulations. Four victims died of unknown causes. Several victims died of a combination of assaults.
Four bodies were found mutilated, two of them sexually.
Four victims remain unidentified.
At least four of the homicides were the work of two serial killers.
Thirty-seven of the unsolved homicides and disappearances involve an unknown motive. According to detectives, 16 are probably sex-related, 10 are drug-related, nine are robbery-motivated, four were committed during fights and six were the result of domestic disputes. A few were committed for a combination of reasons.
Some of the slayings are extremely brutal and involve the darkest of theories, such as Sunset's Rachel Runyan case, which was recently televised nationally as a crime that may have been committed for commercial gain or as part of a ritual.
"There are a lot of sick people out there," said Ogden police detective Joe Chesser. "I mean, someone who is taking a human life in the first place has got to be sick."
Thinking about the unsolved cases is not a pleasant task for Salt Lake County Sheriff's Capt. Bob Jack, who was not thrilled at all about the prospects of this Deseret News story.
"I deal with (unsolved cases) very poorly emotionally," said Jack, who doesn't like to be reminded that his squad has 11 unsolved homicides. "You start to feel responsible to solve them. And you just got to realize you can't."
But senior Salt Lake Police Detective John Johnson - who has probably investigated more deaths than any other Utah police officer - welcomed any publicity, saying it can occasionally lead to a solution.
"Once we've exhausted all the leads, we set the cases aside in the inactive file and just hope something comes in," said Johnson.
"There's a lot of people out there that could solve these cases if they would just come forward. If this (article) solves one case, I'll be happy."
34 cases outside of S.L. County continue to perplex Utah authorities
Box Elder County
Thomas Joseph Walling, 9, reported missing June 24, 1983; found in the Malad River about a mile south of I-84 near Tremonton on July 9, 1983; died of a blunt force injury to the head; no motive.
Bradley Newell Perry, 22, was beaten, stabbed and strangled at his work, the Perry Short Stop, on May 26, 1984; robbery a possible motive.
Rachael Runyan, 3, abducted from a Sunset playground on Aug. 26, 1982; her body was found Sept. 19; died of a beating; police have received information recently that the homicide may be related to the occult and child pornography.
Theresa Greaves, 23, disappeared Aug. 3, 1983, after leaving her Woods Cross apartment for a job interview in Salt Lake City; police suspect foul play.
Carla Maxwell, 20, was gunned down April 25, 1986, while working in a convenience store in Layton; bullets recovered from her body were matched to those taken from the bodies of Christine Gallegos and Lisa Strong, who were killed in Salt Lake City.
Wanda Clough, 32, a mother of three, was found lying next to a bus stop on Oct. 6, 1987, in Sunset; police originally thought she was the victim of a hit-and-run but doctors found several stab wounds; she died nine days later.
A woman told police on Sept. 10, 1987, that she had witnessed a shooting death the day before on the Uintah-Ouray Indian Reservation. Sheriff's officials found blood at the scene and have other corroborating evidence but no body. Sheriff Clair Poulsen is convinced there was a homicide.
James Pickering, 23, was last seen in Albuquerque, N.M., on Sept. 16; found Nov. 11, 1986, beside I-70 one mile west of the Hanksville interchange; suffered blunt trauma to the head; dead about two months.
A unidentified "Jane Doe" victim was found along I-70 last May 13; her body was nude and she had been strangled; believed to have been dead since January.
A "John Doe" victim, was found Feb. 12, 1983, in Arches National Park; shot once in the back of the head with a .22-caliber gun; shoes were missing; dead about 6 months.
Randy Woodard, 25, who had been living in Emery County, was reported missing in December 1982; his partially charred body was found March 18, 1983, in his pickup truck, which had been rolled into Clear Creek Canyon near the Escalante River and set afire with gasoline; cause of death undetermined but ruled a probable homicide; firm motive never established.
David Earl Williamson, 34, a truck driver from Lynwood, Wash., was killed by a sniper with a .22-caliber rifle on June 29, 1982, as he was driving east on I-84 near Mountain Green; another trucker was shot that same day but survived.
San Juan County
Paul McPherson, 55, a Bluff auto shop owner, was shot six times with a small-caliber handgun; body found March 22, 1981, in Comb Wash, six miles west of town; no motive.
Daniel Ben Jordan, 53, a former follower of polygamist leader Ervil LeBaron, was shot to death in a hunting camp on Oct. 19, 1987; death may be from a LeBaron hit list.
Beulah "Boots" Lyle, 53, has been missing since Aug. 28, 1988, when her abandoned vehicle with personal belongings inside was found in Richfield; had been spotted that same day, however, in Richfield.
John Dennis Novak, 36, was found on the Bonneville Salt Flats on Christmas Day, 1980; shot in the head; arms had been folded; had been living in Salt Lake City, working security for Trolley Square.
Gary L. Stein, 30, was found stabbed to death Jan. 5, 1982, inside the camper of his pickup truck, which was impounded a day earlier from the side of I-80 45 miles east of Wendover; had left Henderson, Nev., Dec. 28 to work the oil fields of Wyoming; probably picked up a hitchhiker, who robbed him; wallet found in Summit County a few days later.
Linda Lee Martin, 23, was found in the mountains south of Lookout Pass on Dec. 2, 1989; shot once in the head.
Rhonda Fae Karren, 33, disappeared following a struggle in her home on Sept. 28, 1987, in Vernal.
Pamela Page, 26, disappeared while jogging April 21, 1984; her decomposed, dismembered body was found tangled in a logjam in Hobble Creek four months later; cause of death unknown.
Peggy Case, 28, of Spanish Fork, has been missing since July 9, 1988; last seen with her boyfriend at a party; though her body has never been found, investigators believe she was slain.
Marty James Shook, 22, hitchhiked out of Sparks, Nev., on June 12, 1982; his nude body was found beside U.S. 40 in Daniel's Canyon two days later; shot in the back of head and his genitals were removed; the slaying has recently been linked to a similar one in Pennsylvania and may be related to several in other states.
Joseph W. Sheets, 28, a gold seeker, was found shot to death execution-style three miles from the summit of Daniels Canyon on Sept. 16, 1987; his car, a green 1975 Ford LTD, Utah license plate RCK-487, has not been found.
Anthony J. Chavez, 44, was found shot to death near U.S. 189 east of Hailstone Junction on May 28, 1989; another man found wounded nearby; drug related.
Bryan Picker, 22, a Weber County Jailer was shot once in the head on Feb. 9, 1980, while in his vehicle on an Ogden road.
Gabriel Distefano, 14, was reported missing by her mother on Aug. 25, 1982; body, wrapped in plastic, was found Sept. 16 in a ditch near a construction site in Harrisville; shot once in the head.
Joyce "Tina" Gallegos, 21, was found in the Ogden River in Ogden Canyon on Aug. 21, 1982; shot twice in the head.
Rebecca Lemberger, 11, was found March 3, 1983, in an old shed in northern part of town; beaten about the head.
Andrew Jay Hansen, 84, was found shot to death up Ogden Canyon on April 15, 1984.
Mamie Savannah Hoskins, 34, a local prostitute, reported missing July 3, 1985; a pair of legs were found July 11 in the Weber River, and police are "99 percent sure" they are hers; rest of the body has not been recovered.
Joyce Yost, 33, a witness in a kidnapping-sexual assault trial, disappeared Aug. 11, 1985; her car was found a week later in foothills east of Ogden.
Sheree Warren, 25, a Roy mother, disappeared Oct. 2, 1985, after leaving her job in Salt Lake City; her car was found abandoned in Las Vegas several weeks later.
Lucy Montoya, 48, stabbed to death May 31, 1987, behind the Marshall White Center in Ogden.
Albert William Spatz, 67, beaten and robbed on May 10, 1988, after getting off a bus in the 2400 block of Monroe Boulevard; died three days later.
Puzzling crimes in S.L. County
Javier Varela, 33, was beaten to death with a piece of lumber outside a woman's apartment at 816 W. 300 North, on Jan. 22.
Celedon Archuletta, 76, was bludgeoned in the living room of his home, 856 S. 900 West, on May 11; motive probably robbery.
Jimmy Lewis Walters, 36, of Hayward, Calif., was found in a field near the West Valley police station on Oct. 19; had been stabbed in the chest, apparently the result of a large quantity of heroin he stole from a Hispanic gang in California.
Frank Clinton Hancock was found shot in the head in his apartment at 155 Canyon Road, on June 29; had been dead three days; death believed to be over a domestic dispute.
Lee Tao, 7 months old, died of skull fracture, in the home of his Laotian refugee parents, 338 N. Argyle, on Aug. 17; investigation hampered by language barrier.
Jerry Hansen, 25, was found Dec. 15 in house at 2029 Richards St.; had been shot in the head; possibly drug-related.
Trent Olsen, 22, was stabbed to death in Cottonwood Park, 4222 S. 1100 East, on Feb. 14; had been in a fight earlier at a bar at 1140 E. 3900 South.
An unknown "John Doe" victim, described as Caucasian, about 25 to 35 years old, was found floating in surplus canal near 1800 North and 4900 West on March 12; had been in the water for several months; cause of death unknown.
Bertha Hughes, 81, was raped and beaten to death in her home near Granite High School on March 18.
Enrique Alcala Pasillas, 22, was shot to death during a fight at a party at 120 W. 1300 South, on April 17.
Dennis Piernick, 39, was found stabbed to death in his apartment, 927 E. South Temple, on May 16; signs of a struggle.
Wilhelmina Reid, 72, was found Aug. 18 in her home, 959 W. California Ave.; had been beaten during a burglary and theft; had also been sexually assaulted.
James William Skeel, 50, was found Sept. 25 on a bed in his apartment, 4137 S. 570 East. Skeel, known to bring other men to his apartment, had died at least two days earlier of blunt force injuries to the head.
Ronald Vincent Maurath, 24, was found May 8 on Garfield Road between Magna and the Great Salt Lake beaches; stabbed repeatedly; police believe killing may have been result of a fight in a bar a few hours earlier.
Carrie Wayne, 28, was found floating in a surplus canal near Kennecott smelter on July 28; dead three to five days; had been stabbed twice in the chest, suffered a skull fracture and had been sexually mutilated.
Michael Howard Johnson, 25, was stabbed to death beneath the 400 South viaduct near 700 West on Nov. 19.
Debbie Frost, 17, disappeared the night of July 8 after telling her boyfriend at his downtown Salt Lake work that she was going to hitchhike home.
Julie Ann Marsh, 29, a known prostitute, was found along Emigration Canyon Road on Aug. 28; had been beaten to death.
Christine Gallegos, 18, was found May 16 on a street a block west of Derk's Field; shot twice in the head and stabbed repeatedly; linked to the Lisa Strong and Carla Maxwell cases in 1986.
Jeannie Muir, 79, was beaten and stabbed with scissors during burglary of her home, 5182 Capehart Dr. (4940 West), on Dec. 26.
Drucilla Ovard, 83, was strangled in her home, 1457 Logan Ave., for no apparent reason on July 18.
Michael Paul Nazarrio, 35, was knocked off a retaining wall near 800 S. State after making sarcastic remarks to some passers-by on Sept. 24; died of a head injury a short time later.
Tiffany Hambleton, 14, was found in a west Salt Lake field on April 1; missing since Feb. 17; had died of multiple stab wounds; sex a probable motive.
Terry Bakker, 25, was shot in head and chest outside his home, 2049 E. Atkin Ave. (2810 South); drug equipment, bales of marijuana and a piranha found inside.
Lisa Strong, 25, was gunned down while walking home near Kensington Ave. and 800 East on May 12; linked to the Maxwell slaying in Davis County and the Gallegos case in Salt Lake City.
Patricia "Smurf" Ramirez, 20, was found strangled July 13 on a hillside above Memory Grove; had been dead several days.
Jose Gaitan, 35, was shot during fight in bar at 826 S. Main; suspect Pedro Garcia, charged with second-degree murder, is still at large.
Diana Ramirez, 34, was found slain at her work, 807 E. South Temple, on Sept. 8; stabbed repeatedly; no apparent motive.
Dean Steiner, 68, was beaten to death in a house at 733 E. 800 South, on Dec. 21; robbery may have been motive.
Billy Lee Buss, 40, was shot outside a friend's house, 948 W. 300 South, on July 15; probably drug related.
Jennie Lyn Bowden, 21, a known prostitute, was found stabbed to death in a parking garage at 330 S. 400 West, on Nov. 1.
Anthony Lucero, 30, was shot to death in the intersection of 1500 West and American Ave. on Dec. 3. Police believe drugs and gangs were involved.
Danny Montano, 23, was shot to death in the basement of his home, 341 E. 1300 South, on Dec. 11; no motive, possibly drugs.
Robert Roy Rowland, 47, was found nude in his apartment, 1263 E. South Temple, on April 18; had been shot in the head; police found drug paraphernalia and a small amount of cocaine.
Douglas Lee, 36, a transient, was shot to death June 15 near the railroad tracks, 450 S. 650 West.
Corie Skola, 22 months, died of brain trauma suffered from being shaken severely; police have suspects but insufficient evidence.
Kirk Pitcher, 34, was found dead in a home, 4212 S. 1300 West, on Sept. 11; massive gunshot wound to head, but no weapon or bullet recovered; no motive.
Vanessa Nieto, 18 months, was found dead in her crib, 418 S. 1000 West, on Oct. 4; head wounds; police have suspects but no evidence.
Dee Dee Wach, 19, was gunned down in front of her parents' home in Kearns; police testified in court they suspected her husband, who is serving a federal sentence for aiding and abetting prostitution.
Vincent A. Thomas, 28, was shot to death Feb. 8 near the intersection of Pueblo Street (1440 West) and 900 South; police believe drugs were involved.
David P. Uckerman, 36, was shot in his home, 337 S. Post St. (940 West), on Feb. 20.
Randall Louis Fitch, 30, a transient, was found floating in Jordan River between North Temple and South Temple on March 14; died of head wounds.
Felicia Pappas, 17, was found outside an office building at 4511 S. 600 East on April 6; strangled and sexually assaulted.
Annette Hill, 38, left her home in Sandy, telling her daughter she would be back in a couple of hours; has not been seen since.Comment on this story
Stena Lindquist Cahill, 20, a prostitute from Phoenix, Ariz., was found in canal near 2400 North and 2200 West, on May 30; stabbed dozens of times in the back.
Flora Rundle, 71, was found stabbed to death in her home, 3518 S. 300 West, on Oct. 22; no motive.
Lela C. Rockwell, 62, Fairfield, Utah County, was found dead beneath the North Temple viaduct near 400 West on Nov. 10; strangled and possibly sexually assaulted.
UTAH CRIME SOLVERS
Anyone with information about any of these cases is asked to call the county sheriff's office or Utah Crime Solvers, 964-2255 or 1-800-972-2255.