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A series examining nearly 100 unsolved murders in the region

Quiet case

Amanda Arthur
The Daily Times-Call
2001 Times-Call Publishing Co.

 "It's been dead."

   So say Boulder police about the unsolved homicide of 48-year-old Marty Grisham, who was fatally shot as he opened the door of his Boulder apartment Nov. 1, 1994.

   No one saw anything.

   That fact is surprising to police Cmdr. Joe Pelle, who believes someone should have heard or seen something.

   "The building Mr. Grisham lived in was on the far east side of town and not a lot of kids lived there. It was quiet and fairly dark out there," he said.

   Grisham, the city of Boulder's director of Information Systems, was shot twice in the head and twice in the chest by an unknown assailant at about 9:30 p.m., police said.

   An unidentified woman who was in Grisham's apartment at the time of the shooting told police Grisham opened the door slowly at first, then opened it wider.

   She told police she heard three gunshots, and when she went to the door, she found Grisham slumped over. She said she did not hear any conversation between Grisham and the assailant.

    Neighbors hurried to the scene and resuscitated Grisham, but he died later, reports said.

   Pelle said the case has gone cold, although it hasn't been closed.

   "It's still open, but it's been very inactive," he said. "We're hoping to reinvigorate some attention to it."

   He said the woman in Grisham's apartment was cleared of any involvement in the shooting.

   "From the point (in the apartment) where she was,  it is physically impossible for her to have been involved with Grisham's death," he said.

      He said after some investigation, police came up with a possible suspect; a man identified as Michael Clark, then 19.

   Pelle said Clark was the boyfriend of Grisham's daughter, and was suspected of stealing Grisham's checkbook and writing checks from it.

   "He (Grisham) had been missing some stuff, and that obviously caused us to be concerned about Mr. Clark," he said.

   Clark had been arrested and booked on fraud charges relating to Grisham's missing checkbook. Pelle said just prior to Grisham's death, Grisham reported he was missing several items and wanted his locks changed.

   Clark has yet to be ruled out as a suspect, he said, although police have lost contact with him and don't know where he is.

   Clark was convicted of forgery and fraud charges in 1995 and 1996, respectively.

   Police plan to check up on what Michael Clark has been up to, Pelle said.

   Boulder police, with the help of the Major Crime Unit, are in the process of re-investigating old, unsolved cases, like Grisham's.

   No detectives are currently assigned to the case, he said, although police plan to begin actively working on it sometime this year.

   Investigations into Grisham's homicide were further thwarted by the lack of physical evidence recovered from the crime scene.

   "We have a really small amount of physical evidence," he said. "It's just the bullets and the shell casings, really," he said.

   That evidence (from a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun) provides little information to police without a weapon to compare it to, he said.

   "We never recovered any murder weapon," he said.

   In the months following Grisham's death, police received several tips, including a description of a possible suspect.

   The suspect was described as a white male, believed to be 25 to 30 years old with dark blond hair and glasses.

   A man who fit that description contacted police one day after it was released, Pelle said.

   "He contacted us right away. He was a resident there, who someone saw (while) on their way to the laundry room (of the building)," he said.

   The man was not connected with Grisham's death, Pelle said.

   Police also searched for a car seen fleeing the scene shortly after the shots were fired.

   The car was described as a 1970s two-door Chrysler. It was believed to be green in color, with silver trim around the bottoms of the doors and fenders.

   Others called police and described a 1970 or 1971 Ford LTD seen leaving the area around the time of Grisham's death.

   Pelle said neither car was found to have been connected with the case.

   Aside from those tips, Pelle said, the case has been unusually quiet.

   "With some of our other cases, we have periodically gotten calls, but with this one there's just been nothing," he said.

   Grisham's friends were shocked at the news of his death.

   "When I got up that morning and picked up the paper and saw Marty had been murdered, I was devastated," Grisham's friend Nancy Cain said.

   Cain, who met Grisham through a seminar, said, "Marty was just a very nice person. He was warm and caring. We shared a real volatile time in our lives we both were in the same boat," she said. Both had gone through divorces, she said.

   She said Grisham had "a lot of personal insight," and was gentle and sensitive.

   Pelle said Boulder police hope to crack several unsolved cases in the year ahead.

   "Hopefully, we can wrap them up, or decide there is nothing and we need to move on," he said. "We would like them to end positively."

   If you have information about this case or any part of the series, call Amanda Arthur at 303-776-2244, ext. 215, or e-mail her at aarthur@times-call.com

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