TACOMA, WA – Today, 43-year-old William Jason Grisso was sentenced to 31 years in prison for killing his fiancé, Nancy Gardner, 45, whom he had reported missing. Gardner’s cell phone led detectives to her body in Belfair. Last month, a jury convicted Grisso of murder in the first degree. Prosecutor Mark Lindquist handled the case with Deputy Prosecutor Jared Ausserer.
On the day of the murder, the defendant had a wife, a fiancé and a girlfriend. He divorced the wife and murdered his fiancé on the same day.
“This was not a crime of passion,” said Prosecutor Lindquist at sentencing. “This was a crime of impatience.” Neighbors told officers they heard Grisso and Gardner arguing the day Gardner went missing. Grisso wanted Gardner to move out of his house and she wasn’t complying. “There were plenty of lawful ways the defendant could have untangled the web of his complicated love life, but he chose murder.”
The courtroom was filled with emotional family members, including Gardner’s cousin, sisters and brother, who addressed the Court. They remembered Gardner as a loving and generous daughter, sister and step-mother.
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.
“Murder is never a good plan,” Lindquist said in closing argument, “and this was an exceptionally sloppy plan. The defendant left a clear trail of evidence.” Ausserer presented the forensic evidence to the jury, using cell phone records, photos and DNA.
Before sentencing Grisso to the maximum term recommended by Lindquist and Ausserer, the judge reminded him that this murder was the end result of his “elaborate web of lies.”
Communications and Public Information Coordinator
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office