Second victim’s mom reacts to trucker’s murder arrest

NewsNation PRIME

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — At 4:18 p.m. Wednesday, a woman in Corpus Christi, Texas, received a text from a number she didn’t know.

But as soon as Lori Kreutzer realized it was a reporter on the other end, she picked up the phone and dialed.

“Oh my God. This is about Dusty, isn’t it?” Kreutzer asked immediately.

“I knew the minute you had identified yourself as a reporter that it had to have a connection with Dusty,” Kreutzer explained later in a Zoom interview with Nexstar affiliate WOOD. “It’s been years since anybody’s contacted me.”

Eight days earlier, police in Mississippi had arrested the man they believe murdered Kreutzer’s daughter.

No one had told her.

“It was, of course, a mixture of everything,” said Kreutzer, referring to the moment the reporter shared the news. “It brings back everything. The emotions inside me are both grief and relief. I am just happy he’s not going to kill anyone anymore. He’s gotten away with it for so long.”

On May 4, 2006, Kreutzer’s daughter, Dusty Shuck, was found dead on the shoulder of eastbound I-70 near Mt. Airy, Maryland, 40 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.

Shuck, 24, was discovered just a few yards from a truck stop. The young mother had been beaten and stabbed multiple times.

10 YEARS AND 500 MILES APART, TWO MURDERS LINKED

A decade earlier and 500 miles away, in West Michigan, another woman was found dead.

On Oct. 3, 1996, a delivery driver spotted the body of Sharon Kay Hammack, 29, on the side of 76th Street near Kraft Avenue near Grand Rapids. Hammack, a pregnant mother of two, had been raped, strangled, stabbed and bound.

An undated photo shows Sharon Hammack.
An undated photo shows Sharon Hammack and her children. (Shared with WOOD)

At both murder scenes, the killer left DNA behind, which was submitted to CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System.

At some point, the FBI-maintained database made the connection; DNA from the two scenes came from one killer.

Then, in September 2021, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department began the process of submitting DNA from the Hammack crime scene to Identifinders, a California-based forensic genetic genealogy company.

The company compared the Hammack DNA against three million samples uploaded to two nationwide ancestry databases, GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA.

Ultimately, the analysis led genealogists to the parents of Garry Dean Artman. Both are deceased.

The Artmans had four sons, only one of whom had ties to both the Hammack and Shuck crime scenes.

In court documents filed Aug. 16 in Michigan, detectives with the Kent County Sheriff’s Department said Artman admitted to living in the Grand Rapids area, near where Hammack’s body was found, in 1996.

In the same court record, Kent County investigators explained Shuck had been in Ontario, California, just days before her body was found in Maryland.

“It was found that around the same time Garry Dean Artman was within 20 miles of Ontario, California, when he was cited by local authorities,” wrote a detective in the probable cause affidavit.

The long haul trucker, who now lives in Florida, was arrested Aug. 16, by the Mississippi Highway Patrol. He was behind the wheel of a commercial truck at the time.

Sources tell WOOD that after Artman’s arrest, lab tests confirmed the trucker’s DNA matched the DNA left at the Sharon Hammack murder scene.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker charged Artman with felony murder and criminal sexual conduct in the killing of Sharon Hammack, who was one of a dozen women found murdered in the mid-90s in Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties.

Most of the West Michigan victims struggled with substance abuse and engaged in sex work to survive.

Artman remains in the Forrest County Jail in Mississippi, awaiting transport to Michigan to face the charges. He has waived extradition, meaning he will not fight his return to Kent County.

An Aug. 16, 2022, booking photo of Garry Artman from the Forrest County, Mississippi, Sheriff's Office.
An Aug. 16, 2022, booking photo of Garry Artman from the Forrest County, Mississippi, Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s department in Kent County held a news conference last week to announce the break in the Hammack case.

“It’s a miracle,” said Lori Kreutzer in a Zoom interview Thursday morning. “Modern science is a miracle… It was just time for that family, (Sharon Hammack’s) and time for our family, and time for perhaps others, too. Because it didn’t stop with those two. I’m sure this man has been killing for decades and got away with and became very good at it.”

Artman was twice convicted of rape in the 1980s, for which he served 11 years in a Michigan prison.

“He went to gladiator school and refined his technique,” Kreutzer said. “Then he got out and unleashed it on the world.”

VICTIM: BEAUTIFUL, HAPPY AND MELLOW

Kreutzer said from the moment her daughter, Dusty, was born, she was “beautiful, happy, mellow, and got along with everybody. She was good at school … She was a great artist. A good, young mother. She was 20 when she had her son, my grandson,” Kreutzer said.

Shuck was in her early 20s, explained Kreutzer, when she began exhibiting symptoms of mental illness later diagnosed as schizophrenia.

“She would just disappear for a while and come back. It was a struggle. I think that’s how she ended up becoming a victim,” Kreutzer said.

Kreutzer tried multiple times to persuade her daughter to abide by her treatment plan, but Shuck always walked away. At some point, she decided she had to go to Canada, though Kreutzer said they had no family there.

An undated photo of Dusty Shuck. (Courtesy Lori Kreutzer)
An undated photo of Dusty Shuck. (Courtesy Lori Kreutzer)

Shuck would travel from state to state, hitching rides.

“The mental health care system is set up in a certain way,” Kreutzer said. “People fall between the cracks … Because she was an adult, and I didn’t have guardianship over her, (mental health care providers) would say, ‘She’s in charge of her own life.’  I could never understand how they could say that since she obviously was a danger to herself by not making good decisions. Because she couldn’t.” 

In April 2006, Shuck was staying at her mom’s house for a couple of weeks when Kreutzer awoke to find her daughter gone.

She drove the streets searching for Shuck.

“Someone had already picked her up,” Kreutzer said.

“I had put a missing person’s report in, you know, because I knew eventually, she would cross paths with police or, God forbid something happened to her, they would know to contact me,” Kreutzer explained. “And so, she had been held a few times and then they’d release her because it’s OK in America to have a mental illness and be out there, even though it is a danger,” Kreutzer said with sarcasm.

Kreutzer said she’s grateful to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department for pursuing forensic genetic genealogy in the Hammack case, which ultimately identified Shuck’s alleged killer too.

“We’re going to get him convicted. Hopefully, other parents can find their daughters through this,” she said. “All I can hope for is that he gets exactly what he deserves. There’s something inside of him that isn’t human.”

Kreutzer said she emailed the Maryland State Police after talking to Target 8 on a Wednesday evening and a cold case detective called her at 10 o’clock that night.

She said the investigator assured her they are investigating Artman for her daughter’s murder and will be in touch with her moving forward.

© 1998 - 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation

Elections 2022

More Elections 2022