GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In a bizarre journal entry read in court, suspect Garry Artman, accused in a 1996 cold case killing, wrote about a “master,” about murder and about rituals.
Artman, a 64-year-old truck driver most recently living in Florida, was ordered to stand trial on Friday in the October 1996 rape and killing of Sharon Kay Hammack.
After his arrest in August, Kent County sheriff’s detectives searched Artman’s storage unit in Lake City, Florida, where they found not only women’s underwear but also journals.
A detective testifying in his preliminary hearing on Friday in 63rd District Court read passages from one of those journals. In it, Artman wrote about a woman named Tammy he was living with in the Grand Rapids area in the early 2000s, a few years after Hammack’s death. He wrote about how “master” had restrained him around Tammy.
“She has had these visions of me that are completely inaccurate and false, visions of me torturing, mutilating and ritualizing things that never happened,” Kent County Detective Paul VanRhee read from the journal.
“She has supposedly caught me in lying that when she asks me if I murdered anyone, I said, quote, no. I then (weeks later) told her that I had, by ritual,” the passage continued.
The detective said Artman was admitting to murder.
A witness who discovered the body on Oct. 3, 1996, testified that while he was on a delivery, he saw a dump truck in the area of 76th Street and Kraft Avenue SE in Caledonia Township.
“A guy was standing in the back of it,” Richard Anderson testified. “While we were waiting for traffic to go through the four-way, I noticed the guy toss something out.”
The 29-year-old mother of two, who was pregnant, had been raped, stabbed, strangled, hog-tied and wrapped in an electric blanket.
She was the ninth woman killed in a string of 12 murders that began in March 1994. Her death is the only of those solved with an arrest.
Detectives said Artman admitted he would pick up prostitutes around S. Division Avenue in Grand Rapids back then. The victim, detectives said, worked in that area.
“She was known at the time as a sex worker,” Detective VanRhee testified.
Kent County sheriff’s detectives reopened the cold case in September 2021 and relied on new DNA technology. They sent DNA from the body and the blanket she was wrapped in to California-based Identifinders International, which came back with results.
“In that report, she (the investigator from Identifinders International) had narrowed down the perpetrator to one of four male sons of Wilfred and Donna Artman,” Detective John Tuinhoff testified.
Detectives say Garry Artman was the only brother living in the area at the time and that his DNA was a perfect match. At the time, he worked for a transport company at 44th Street and Patterson Avenue SE, not far from where the body was dumped, detectives testified.
Artman has a violent criminal history, including a rape conviction for which he served 11 years in a Michigan prison. Kent County court records show Artman has a current address in White Springs in northern Florida.
If convicted, Artman could face life in prison.
DNA also linked him to the death of 24-year-old Dusty Schuck in Maryland in 2006. He has also been charged with that death.