Who Was Suspected Serial Killer Garry Artman?

On October 3, 1996, the body of 29-year-old mother of two Sharon Hammack, who was pregnant with her third child, was discovered by a roadside not far from her home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She had been bound, sexually assaulted, strangled, and stabbed — her remains wrapped in an electric blanket. Her violent death shocked the community, but frustratingly for Hammack's family, her murder remained a cold case for a quarter century, as investigators were unable to collect enough evidence to make an arrest, despite receiving multiple tip-offs about potential suspects.

But 26 years after the horrendous murder that left Hammack's two children motherless there was finally a breakthrough. News outlets reported that investigators had finally arrested a man named Garry Artman, a commercial truck driver for 20 years who was known to have been in the area at the time of Hammack's murder and who had previously spent a decade in prison for rape. At his trial, Artman was revealed as a sadistic sex offender and killer whose diaries, which were read aloud in court per Fox 17 Online, claimed a lack of remorse and revealed Artman believed he was "death itself." The jury took less than an hour to convict him of "open murder, felony murder, and first-degree criminal sexual conduct" in the killing of Hammack. He died just three months after being sentenced, but more shocking details of his crimes were to follow.

DNA evidence

Garry Artman was finally revealed to be Sharon Hammack's murderer thanks to recent developments in forensic technology and data which allowed investigators working on the cold case to delve into DNA traces Artman had left on his victim's body. The DNA which was assumed to belong to Hammack's killer was given to a private firm specializing in forensic genealogy. The DNA sample was able to narrow the suspect down to a member of Artman's family — he was one of four brothers who were all initially suspected as a result of the new forensic information. However, investigators were then able to use biographical information to pin the suspect down and make an arrest, with Artman having lived in Grand Rapids for many years and there at the time of Hammack's murder. He was arrested in August 2022.

But the DNA evidence also linked Artman to another killing, that of 24-year-old Dusty Shuck, who was found dead having been beaten and stabbed near New Market, Maryland in 2006, a decade after the Hammack killing. Artman was charged with Shuck's murder and was due to stand trial again within months of his conviction for the rape and murder of Hammack, but his failing health meant that the trial would never come to fruition. As crime experts noted, 10 years had passed between the two slayings which suggested that the crimes were not isolated. Investigators also found several pairs of women's undergarments in Artman's storage unit in Florida which were being tested as possible evidence. It was feared that Artman may have been operating as a serial killer for decades without being detected.

Garry Artman's chilling deathbed confessions

In December 2023 Sharon Hammack's killer Garry Artman, who by then was 66 years old, was coming to the end of his life. He had developed lung cancer, and as his health failed the convicted rapist and murderer fell into a coma from which he was not expected to regain consciousness.

After being hospitalized and becoming unresponsive Artman was expected to die mid-month. However, to the surprise of doctors the killer came out of the coma and shocked investigators with a deathbed confession. Per The Independent, Artman claimed that he had murdered a total of 11 women, 10 of whom were killed in Grand Rapids. The murders included those of Hammack and Dusty Shuck, though the information has given investigators a new impetus to revisit cold cases in the Grand Rapids area in the hope of bringing closure to more families who have lost loved ones.