January 4th, 1986. Atlantic City, New Jersey. A message is found scrawled on the side of a police cruiser in the early morning hours. The message is as follows: “Gary Grant is dead. I am living. Another will die on the 1/12/86 if all goes right.” The date mentioned is no coincidence. The date that was etched on the cop car just so happened to coincide with the second anniversary of a brutal homicide. The unsolved murder of young Gary Grant Jr. The mad vandal and potential murder suspect would taunt authorities once again a few weeks later. The person or persons would again etch a cryptic message in public. The following was found on a sidewalk: "Gary Grant Jr. lives. I still killed him. Son of a pig officer. Payback is a M.F." However these strange writings were not the beginning of the strange case.
January 12th, 1984. Gary Grant Jr. was off from school that day. There were plans throughout the day to hang out with friends. A busy day for the 7-year-old. He anticipated to be out for most of that day and let his mother know just as much. The thought of a 7-year-old wandering the streets alone now seems unrealistic but it was commonplace at the time. I recall being able to explore the area on my own with my friends when I was younger. As long as I came home without any injuries and it was before dark, my parents didn’t mind it too much.
By noon, the young Gary was out and about, ready for the day. The day came and went and as the sun began to set, Gary’s mother started to worry. Gary’s mother started checking in with his friends Gary said he would be with. The friends had reported that they had played until 4:30 that day when Gary started for home. That was hours ago. Gary’s mother phoned his father, Gary Grant Sr. about the problem. Gary Sr. was a police detective who seemed to take the disappearance seriously despite the boy only being gone for a few hours. He took some time off of work to start the search that night by his self but was unable to find a trace of his son.
The authorities were contacted and started a more thorough search for the boy the following day. Gary Sr. continued to look for his son on his own as he was too close to the case, he was unable o do so in an official capacity. As searchers scoured the neighborhood, witnesses came forward about when and where they saw the young boy last. He was spotted several times that day. One man, who was no witness but heard the details of the mysterious vanishing boy, realized his disappearance was close to property he owned. I’m sure the man never would have thought he would be tied to the case. I am sure he felt he would be wasting his time. The child would not be at his property. He wanted to be a good citizen and just cross his name off the list. However things would go from bad to worse as the man began the search of his property. At approximately 3:30 PM that day, the man found the body of Gary Grant Jr. in an empty lot next to his property. The was bludgeoned to death with a pipe that was found near the child’s body.
The cops were very short on leads. The only name that would come up consistently was one of the child’s friends, Carl Mason. Carl Mason was a 12-year-old boy who would hang out with Gary from time to time. However when meeting with authorities, his story was never the same when told twice. His stories would change immediately after telling them. The recollections of children can already be hard to fully grasp, but throw into the mix the stresses of a police interrogation room, coupled with the violent death of a friend. Things were bound to go poorly again for detectives. Carl started saying he was going to meet Gary on Wednesday but Gary had not shown up. What contradicted this however was witness statements, claiming to see the two boys together. Another damning piece of evidence was while Carl was telling his story, he admitted to hitting Gary in the head and watched him fall. Carl simply left the scene when Gary failed to get back up. After this stunning statement, Carl continued to claim his innocence and insisted he did not kill Gary.
It was late. It was stressful. It is unclear if Carl actually committed the crime, however under these trying circumstances, police were able to get Carl to sign a confession and he was charged with the young boy’s murder. Carl was held in a detention facility for a month before it was realized that the biggest piece of evidence, Carl’s confession, would soon be inadmissible in court. There were any number of reasons to throw out the confession: Carl’s guardian was not present during the entire interrogation, Carl did not have an attorney present, the amount of time he was interrogated (midnight to 3:00 AM) and for the simple fact that he was potentially a confused child, not being able to clearly articulate his thoughts or opinions. He was soon released and the investigation went no where.
Years later the graffiti began showing up around town which rekindled interest in the case. However with these taunting messages, law enforcement were still left with little to go on.
The case of you Gary Grant Jr. remains unsolved but not forgotten. From time to time new leads are brought up through the police or through Gary’s father in the hopes that it will jog something loose from a potential witness. If you have any information on the unsolved murder of young Gary Grant Jr. please contact the New Jersey state police.