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The original item was published from 10/8/2015 5:32:30 PM to 10/9/2017 12:00:08 AM.

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Prosecuting Attorney

Posted on: October 8, 2015

[ARCHIVED] Lakebay man convicted of killing fiancé he reported missing

TACOMA, WA – Today a jury convicted William Grisso, 42, of murder in the first degree for killing his fiancé, Nancy Gardner, 45, whom he had reported missing. Gardner’s cell phone led detectives to her body in Belfair. Grisso is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 2 at 9:00 a.m. in room 531 of the County-City Building in Tacoma.

"Not many cases in real life are solved CSI style, but this one was," said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, who tried the case with Deputy Prosecutor Jared Ausserer.

In closing argument, Ausserer summarized the DNA, cell phone records and additional circumstantial evidence implicating Grisso. His cell phone put him at the murder scene within minutes of when Gardner took the final photos on her phone. Ausserer called the crime “cold-blooded.”

Lance Hester, defense counsel, argued that Grisso could not have been in the area of the crime scene on the day of the murder and that Grisso’s son had written a letter confessing to the crime.

In rebuttal, Lindquist pointed out that these two defenses were discredited by expert testimony. He reminded the jury that cell phone records placed Grisso, not his son, near the crime scene on the day Gardner was killed. Furthermore, a handwriting expert testified that the confession letter was not written by Grisso’s son, and all the evidence pointed to the defendant.

“Murder is never a good plan,” Lindquist said, “and this was an exceptionally sloppy plan. The defendant left a clear trail of evidence.”

On June 30, 2014, Grisso called police and reported Gardner missing. He told officers he saw Gardner that morning, but when he returned home from running errands, the house was unlocked and she was gone. Gardner’s keys, phone and wallet were still in the home. Grisso told officers the only item missing from the home was Gardner’s handgun. As officers spoke with Grisso, they noticed he had blood stains on his shoes. Grisso claimed the blood was from kicking a cat. Officers collected the shoes, and testing revealed that the blood was Gardner’s.

A forensic analysis of Gardner’s cell phone revealed three photos of flowers that were taken the day she went missing. Data from the photos provided detectives with the coordinates where they were taken. Detectives traveled to that location and discovered Gardner’s body.

Neighbors told officers they heard Grisso and Gardner arguing the day Gardner went missing. They said Grisso was telling Gardner to get out of the house, but Gardner refused to leave.

Heather Songer
Communications and Public Information Coordinator
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
[email protected]

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