Real Name: Gary Lee Grant Jr.
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey
Date: January 12, 1984
Details: Thursday, January 12, 1984, was a rare mid-week holiday for seven-year-old Gary Grant Jr. of Atlantic City, New Jersey. There was no school because of a teacher's conference. He lived with his mother, May, and two older sisters. She and his father, Gary Sr., an Atlantic City police detective, had been separated for nearly a year. At breakfast, she asked Gary if he was going to go and play with his friends. He told her that he had an "appointment" at 2:30pm. When she asked him who it was with, he said that it was a secret. She figured that it was not anything serious and probably had something to do with a girl friend, so she did not question him further. Around noon, he got dressed and went outside to play. He said that he would be back by 4pm, before it got dark.
At 4:30pm, it was dinnertime and Gary still had not showed up. May became worried because he had never missed dinner before. She went down and talked to two girls that he played with. They said that they had played with him earlier, but he had left to go home around 4:30pm. When another two hours passed and there was no sign of him, May telephoned Gary Sr. He was supposed to work that night, but he called his sergeant and told him that he could not come in. He then searched for Gary for several hours, until around 2am.
By the next morning, Friday, the Atlantic City Police Department was engaged in an all out search. Regulations prevented Gary Sr. from taking part in the official investigation. However, he was unwilling to stand by and do nothing. He searched abandoned houses, the area underneath the boardwalk, and arcades. He asked people that worked at the arcades if they had seen Gary. There were a few workers from one of the arcades who remembered seeing him early Friday morning. This led Gary Sr. to believe that he was wandering the streets somewhere. That night, with still no sign of him, Gary Sr. searched alleyways, trash cans, and dumpsters. By that time, he feared the worst.
A man named Robert Hughey realized that Gary had vanished near a warehouse he owned and searched the property. At 3:30pm on Saturday, he discovered his body in a vacant weed-infested lot near the warehouse, less than two blocks from his home. He had been bludgeoned to death and then wrapped in a gold-colored rug. Nearby, a short length of heavy pipe was found. It was believed to have been the murder weapon. The police immediately imposed a radio silence until Gary's family could be notified. At virtually that same moment, Gary Sr., exhausted and on the verge of collapse, happened upon the scene. Officers told him that Gary had been found dead. In tears, he demanded to see him, but was not allowed and instead restrained.
The investigation began like all others, with detectives tracing Gary's final hours and talking to those who knew him best. One child recalled seeing him on Thursday near the junior high school with Carl "Boo" Mason, a developmentally-disabled twelve-year-old. Though he was five years older than Gary, he was smaller in height and weight. The two were good friends and often played together. However, May did not like Gary playing with him. When interviewed by detectives, he said that he had last seen Gary on Wednesday when they rode their bikes at Texas Avenue Park. He claimed that they were supposed to meet at the home of two sisters on Thursday, but Gary never showed up. Despite his claims, multiple people, including the sisters, reported seeing the two of them together on Thursday.
Detectives were not sure what to do; Boo was known as a "scaredy cat" in the neighborhood and seemed to be an unlikely murder suspect. But the fact that several witnesses placed him with Gary on Thursday, when he claimed they were not together, seemed to suggest that he may have been involved. At midnight on Sunday, Boo, accompanied by his grandmother, was driven to police headquarters. Once there, he was separated from his grandmother and led into a small room. During questioning, his stories were inconsistent.
Detectives continued to interrogate Boo until he finally acknowledged being with Gary that day. At around 3am, he also acknowledged being with him at the crime scene. He first said that Gary had fallen and hit his head. He then changed his story again and said that the two had gotten into a fight in which he choked Gary and then hit him repeatedly in the head with a pipe. Finally, when he noticed that Gary would not get up, he covered him with a rug. According to detectives, he told them details that only the killer would have known, such as the fact that Gary had been choked (this was not known until the autopsy was performed). Boo, however, claimed that he had heard all of the information from people in the neighborhood.
After three grueling hours, police believed they had an admission of guilt. A confession was drawn up based on the interrogation. Boo and his grandmother signed the document, even as he insisted that he did not murder Gary. He was charged with murder and remanded to a juvenile detention center. Boo would later claim that one of the detectives told him that if he admitted to the crime, he would be let go. Because he was tired and wanted to go home, he did so.
On Sunday, January 15, Boo was given a polygraph exam. The results were inconclusive. Three days later, a second test was administered. During both tests, it was determined that he had answered truthfully when he said that he did not kill Gary. However, there was some doubt as to whether he had been at the scene. Gary Sr. felt that Boo could have been intimidated by the person who did it, and possibly threatened with death if he said anything. Blood drops were later found on the clothes that Boo was wearing that day. However, they were too small to be typed. On February 23, a month after Boo was arrested, a hearing was held to determine whether his confession was admissible in court. The judge determined that it was not, as it could not be proven that Boo's statements were voluntary. The charges against him were dropped. Police never came up with another viable suspect.
Two years later, it became obvious that someone had not forgotten about Gary. At approximately 3am on January 4, 1986, a vandal painted a chilling message on the side of an Atlantic City patrol car: Gary Grant's dead. I am living. Another will die on the 1/12/86 if all goes right. January 12 would have been the second anniversary of Gary's murder. Gary Sr. was called to look at the message. From what he observed, it appeared to have been written by an adult. However, they were never able to figure out who wrote it.
A few weeks later, a second cryptic message was scratched on a sidewalk: Gary Grant Jr. lives. I still killed him, son of a pig officer. Payback is a M.F. This one led to speculation that Gary had been murdered as retribution, possibly for an arrest Gary Sr. had made. Gary Sr. tried to think of someone he arrested that may have wanted retribution against him, but no one came to mind.
Gary Sr. still passes out flyers and looks for information on Gary's case. He is also still barred from officially working on it. He is certain that someone knows what happened and has information that could help solve it.
Suspects: Police initially considered Boo a suspect. May told police that she did not allow Gary to play with him. Several witnesses reported seeing him with Gary on Thursday, the day he was last seen. However, he claimed to have last seen him the day before. After being questioned for several hours, he confessed to the murder. However, the charges were later dropped after the confession was ruled inadmissible.
Gary Sr. believes Boo'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. He believes that Gary refused and threatened to tell the police about it, and that he was killed as a result.
- This case first aired on the December 1, 1993 episode.
- A reward of $15,000 is being offered for it.
- Gary Sr., who retired from the police force in 2001 and now lives in Puerto Rico, started a Facebook page in memory of Gary.
Results: Unsolved. In 2015, while converting old tapes to digital files, Gary Sr. found a tape which contained two 911 calls about the case. The first one occurred on March 8, 1986; the caller claimed to be Gary's killer and asked about receiving a reward for turning himself in. He stated: Is it possible for me to collect a reward on my own self for the murder of Gary Grant? He ended the call by stating You’re never going to catch me. The caller has yet to be identified and it is not known if he was actually involved in the murder.
The second one occurred on June 2, 1986; the caller refused to give his own name. However, he did give the name of a man who allegedly confessed to Gary's murder to him. He claimed that the killer had committed the crime because of an arrest Gary Sr. made. Gary Sr. remembered the man named but did not recall having any issues with him. Interestingly, the man had been arrested in 2011 for sexual contact with a young boy. He has never been charged in Gary's case.
Gary Sr. and other investigators still believe that Boo was involved in Gary's death. Gary Sr. believes, at the very least, that Boo witnessed the attack and knows the perpetrator. However, no other evidence has been found to link him or anyone else to the crime. Gary's killer(s) has never been caught or identified, nor has the author of the messages.
- Gary Grant Jr. on Unsolved.com
- Gary Grant Jr. Memorial Facebook Page
- Atlantic City police officer's son found dead, apparently of beating - January 15, 1984
- 12-year-old accused of killing boy - January 16, 1984
- 12-year-old charged in the beating death of Atlantic City boy, 7 - January 16, 1984
- 12-year-old Atlantic City boy is held in slaying of friend, 7 - January 16, 1984
- Charges filed against 12-year-old in death of boy, 7 - January 17, 1984
- Judge told boy recanted confession - January 25, 1984
- Boy faces trial in beating death of playmate - January 25, 1984
- Lawyer wants confession thrown out in slaying of boy, 7 - February 16, 1984
- Exploring a boy's murder, and a playmate's confession (Page 1) (Page 2) - March 12, 1984
- Detective Pursues Search For Son’s Killer - February 21, 1986
- Detective says he won't be one-man vigilante in bid to find son's killer - February 22, 1986
- Detective Assigned to Find His Son's Killer - February 22, 1986
- Retired A.C. officer goes online to find son's killer, 25 years later - March 29, 2009
- Atlantic City child murder cold case could heat up after new discovery - December 29, 2015
- Audiotape offers clue in Gary Grant Jr.'s 1984 Atlantic City slaying - January 1, 2016
- The Horrific Unsolved Murder of Seven Year Old Gary Grant Jr. - April 8, 2017
- Unsolved Murder Investigation of Gary Grant Jr. Remains Active 35 Years Later - January 14, 2019
- 35 years later: 7-year-old's murder remains unsolved in A.C. - January 15, 2019
- Atlantic City boy's murder still on prosecutor's radar 35 years later - January 15, 2019
- Gary Grant Jr. on Find a Grave