Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: The Killer Is Killed

With Gary Zieger now confirmed beyond all shadows, and all doubt, to be a merciless killer, the authorities knew they were in a race against time. They quickly named him one of two suspects in the Sumpter murders. And they had their motive: having been convicted in the Cordova dynamite theft, he needed money for his appeal. Funny thing: around twenty thousand dollars in cash and jewelry had been stolen from the Sumpter home.

Police served Zieger with a warrant to impound his truck in connection with the Sumpter murders. From here, some of the details get sketchy. In one rendition, the officers offered to take Zieger into protective custody, but Gary turned them down. In an alternate take, he asked his attorney to call police, requesting protective custody, a request that was denied. In any event, Gary Zieger the killer was now on his own.

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Gary Zieger and his Dodge truck

From here, we’ll let Maj. Walter Gilmour take up the narrative, in his never-before-released commentary on Gary Zieger.

“Although Zieger was free [after his acquittal in the ZeZe Mason murder], we still had him under surveillance. Once a killer, always a killer. In the months after his acquittal, I got a call from Trooper Meyers, one of the troopers assigned to me. He was on his way to a movie with his wife when he spotted Zieger driving a different truck. He immediately gave me a call, postponing his evening’s entertainment in the line of duty.

“Say, Walt, I just saw Zieger driving a new truck. Never seen it before. I got the license number for you.”

“That night, two people were found shot to death in a suburban home.”

“Our first sweep of the neighborhood for witnesses didn’t turn up anything. On a second attempt we came across an elderly woman who’d been up late to water her plants on the night in question. She lived across the street from the Sumpters, and had seen an unfamiliar truck parked out front. She’d also had the presence of mind to take the license number. Sure enough, it matched the plate on the truck Trooper Meyers had seen Gary Zieger driving the previous evening. Gary Zieger the killer had struck again.

“While we were making preparations and mobilizing to arrest Gary Zieger for his latest round of murder and mayhem, somebody else got him first. We found him at mile 110 of the Seward Highway, just up the road from where Beth van Zanten had met her fate. He was sprawled in the middle of the pavement, with a fatal shotgun blast to the belly.

killer
Milepost 110, Seward Highway Gary Zieger’s body was found here, near Beluga Point (courtesy Vanya Keyes, Google Street View)

“Though by no means a neat ending, with all the loose ends tied in place, the murderous career of Gary Zieger had finally come to an end. I wouldn’t miss the asshole. Although I had no positive proof that he was Beth van Zanten’s killer — we had found similar wire at his house, but the FBI discounted the match — I felt a certain sense of relief, knowing that at least Gary Zieger would kill no more. And somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I was sure Gary Zieger was just as likely responsible for Beth’s murder as anyone else I had come across in my investigation. There were even people who suggested that Zieger looked a lot like the composite picture of the man purportedly seen with Beth on the night of her disappearance.

“My conviction that Zieger was involved in Beth’s death was not without its irony, either. In our follow-up after Zieger’s death, we found an informant who told us that Beth’s cousin Greg had lived with Zieger in the months after her death, when he presumably was no longer welcome in the van Zanten household. I was never sure what to make of that connection. But there it was.”


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Craig

Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Gary Zieger Goes Free

While in jail on the ZeZe Mason charge, Gary Zieger met a gangster wannabe named Wesley Ladd. Ladd was nothing if not a schemer, and once Zieger was free, he met up with him again. Ladd tried to involve Gary in plan to hustle fish but when the price of halibut dropped, they decided to hustle marijuana instead. They’d buy it cheap in Anchorage and sell it dear in Cordova. Along the way, one of their crew introduced Zieger to a man who worked for a drilling company that occasionally did blasting work. Zieger asked if he could buy some dynamite.

A free Gary Zieger was a man made for trouble.

Near noon the next day, on the road from Valdez back to Anchorage with Ladd and the another accomplice, Zieger stopped for gas. A trooper pulled him over and searched his truck. He found not only two cases of dynamite but eleven pounds of marijuana. Zieger was arrested and taken to Anchorage, where he was jailed on a fifty-thousand-dollar bond. He was charged with burglary, grand larceny, and possession of narcotics with intent to sell.

Not free anymore.

free
Wesley Ladd with police after his murder arrest (Anchorage Daily News)

Then Zieger was released from jail. The prosecutor fought his release, presenting psychiatric testimony from the ZeZe Mason murder trial that described Zieger as “immature, impulsive, aggressive, anti-social and extremely hostile with proneness to acting out his hostility.” The judge reduced Zieger’s bail from $50,000 to $1,500.

Ladd put down the cash bond and Zieger was free once more.

Soon, he was engaged in Ladd’s plan to wrest control of a massage parlor from a serial entrepreneur named John Rich. As Kim Rich notes in her book, “Johnny’s Girl,” it was then that things took a turn toward darkness.

“Well, the conversation again picked up concerning John Rich and the massage parlor… we were all seriously talking ’bout doing away, one way or another, with John Rich, and we’d get in on the massage parlor. I don’t think it had actually been, at this point, I don’t think it had actually been anybody committed themselves exactly how we was going to get rid of Rich, but the fact was there, that we was going to do something to recover that massage parlor, and getting him out of there would be one of the necessary moves.

Well, at this time I had made several efforts to contact John Rich, but I had not contacted him. I had not seen him at all no where. And, uh, I mean, this went on for a period of, it must have been four or five weeks, just talking about doing something. And finally Gary [Zieger] says, “Well, if you can’t find him, take Benny and I. We’ll find him. We know better that you do anyway.”

From Wesley Ladd’s confession to AST Jim Vaden

In short order, Ladd and his accomplices dreamed up a scheme to have John Rich sign a power of attorney document that wrested control of the club from Rich. After several back-and-forths getting the document right, they set out to find John Rich. They found him at a local auction, where one of Ladd’s sidemen told Rich he knew someone who wanted to buy two shotguns. They agreed to meet once the auction was over, at eleven at PJ’s, one of the clubs owned by John Rich. Until then, Ladd, Ramey and a third accomplice drove around, picking up Gary Zieger at the last minute.

At PJ’s, Gary Zieger and a guy named Benny Ramey forced John Rich into is own vehicle, grabbed his keys and drove him to Eagle River, where they expected him to sign the power of attorney. “If I sign this, you’ll kill me,” Rich told Wesley Ladd when confronted with the proposition. “I’m afraid I won’t walk out of here.”

“John, we talked it over, you got my word,” Ladd said. “We aren’t going to hurt you.”

Ladd and Rich argued. Suddenly, Ramey walked over and slammed his gun against John Rich’s head. “Just sign the damn papers! We don’t want to hear any more crap,” he said.

While Ladd was out of the cabin, Ramey alleged that Gary Zieger attempted to force him to shoot John Rich. Ramey says he refused. Zieger then fired. When Ladd returned, he found John Rich lying on the floor. He was dead.

Based on “Johnny’s Girl,” by Kim Rich and “Cold Crime,” by Tom Brennan.


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Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Snow Tires

In this installment, we continue Walter Gilmour’s narration of his encounters with Gary Zieger. Here we learn that a set of snow tires can loom as critical evidence. This account, taken from the earliest drafts of “Butcher, Baker,” has never been published before.


“Six months after he was sentenced for his role in the killing of the Native Alaskan boy, Beatty was placed on work release. It was then that he stole some snow tires and helped mount them on Gary Zieger’s truck. He remembered that one of the tires had been mounted on the rim in an inverted fashion. That remembered fact turned out to be a crucial variable in the ZeZe Mason murder investigation.

tires

“ZeZe was a 20-year-old airline employee who was hitchhiking to town on her day off. As she hitched near one of the many gravel pits in and around Anchorage, a truck driver picking up a load of gravel noticed her. He also spotted two men in a white 4-wheel-drive truck stop and pick her up. When the driver returned to get another load a half hour later, he saw the same young woman in the same truck, this time at a more remote site within the gravel pit, accompanied by only one male.

“When her half-clothed, sexually assaulted body was found on August 28, 1972, we noted that the pit where she rested was accessible only by a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. We also noted some distinctive tire tracks: where all the tires should have their knobby edges biting outward to provide more grip, one of the edges was biting inward. This was the mysterious inversely mounted tire that Zieger’s buddy was so helpful in identifying.

“Shortly after we discovered ZeZe’s body, a funny thing happened. We got a call from a woman who identified herself as the girlfriend of a man who was in the white 4-wheel-drive truck on the day ZeZe Mason was murdered. She told us she wanted to make sure we were looking for the right person in the truck that day. That person was not her boyfriend, she said, but someone else. Gary Zieger.

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1970 Chevrolet 4×4 Truck (example)

“We talked to the boyfriend, but he was not too helpful, other than confirming that he and Gary had gone for target practice near the gravel pit and had picked up a female hitchhiker. He wasn’t sure if it was ZeZe Mason; all he knew was that it was “some girl.” They left the gravel pit with the young woman riding in the middle, he said, and then Zieger dropped him at a nearby fire station. After that, Gary and the female continued on their way; the witness wasn’t sure of their destination.

By then we had a pretty good idea exactly where they were headed.


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Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Frustration, Politics, Reality

Then-Corporal Walter Gilmour had reached a point in the Beth van Zanten case where, in his own words, “I couldn’t sleep for shit and I needed help.” At the peak of his frustration, he sought out fellow trooper Sgt. Don Church. Now assigned to Alaska’s statewide unit of major crime investigations — the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) — Church had met Gilmour when he was a recruit in the state police.

Even then, Church was a certified hero: during the 1964 earthquake, he was instrumental in saving hundreds of lives as he sent seismic warnings all over the villages in the Aleutian Chain, using his marine radio. He did more than that.

A coveted award citation from the National Police Officers of America noted the following of then-Trooper Church:

“On March 27, 1964 after completing a regular tour of duty this officer learned of an impending tidal wave and with complete disregard of his own safety spread the alarm to villages along his post. He continued for several days to search and rescue victims despite all obstacles.”

Gilmour needed a place to lay his frustration. More than that, he needed the guidance of this man who always stood cool under fire.

frustration
Trooper Donald D. Church in 1964 (Click for Details)


The two of them met at Leroy’s Pancake place in mid-town Anchorage. Gilmour wasted no time getting to the point.

“Don, I’m really up a duck’s ass with this case. The Colonel thinks I’m pushing too hard but he won’t be specific as to what he is talking about and I’m not sure where he is getting his information. I really feel that I can make this case but there seems to be things going on that I’m not aware of. What do you think? Are we missing anything that should be done on this thing?”

Sgt. Church was immaculate as usual, always dressed in a suit and tie. He seemed to ponder the question as they were sitting there and, at one point, Gilmour thought he was not going to answer.

“Well,” says Church, “welcome to the real world. When you were in Fairbanks, you had everything your own way. And that’s why you were brought down here so that they can keep an eye on you. Then when things went your way on the Mayo case (1), you really pissed some of them off. Now you are stumped and they feel free to criticize your methods. It doesn’t make any difference what you do. If you don’t solve the case, you’re wrong.”

And then Church took Gilmour into the politics of frustration. He point-blank told him that another officer, Sgt. Anderson, was now a rival in the minds of both trooper leaders and, worse, his fellow officers. In part that was because Sgt. Anderson was the kind of trooper they admired: calm, collected, got along well with the local D.A.

“Some of the men worked for Anderson before you came along and some see themselves getting included in the CIB,” Church told him. “So they’re over brown-nosing him. Some guys think you are all wet thinking that this case is going to be solved. The worst part is that I have been told it doesn’t make any difference one way or another.”

“Shit, Don, you gotta be shitten me,” Gilmour replied. “What the hell. I was talking to the Director and he told me I could have anything that I needed and to see you if I needed any help.”

“That’s what I mean. Anderson wants the CIB to take over this case. But they are still calling it a local case. I told them you should keep the case, but they really want to take it, so they are going to be second-guessing you all the way along. If the Statewide theory of a criminal investigation bureau is going to have credibility, then they will need staff authority.

“And,” Church continued, “if this case isn’t solved they will decide that the CIB should have line authority. Even if the case is solved, you just got lucky again. Either way you’re the loser. Anyway, I heard that they are going to reorganize and put all the investigations, both local and statewide, under Anderson. That will give him enough to make Captain. Which might not be too bad; at least then there will be no question who is working for who. Because Anderson is the one with the real authority anyway.”

Gilmour’s frustration now met reality. As he later mused, “The thought that the men who were working under my command really felt that their best career bet was to show loyalty elsewhere always made me feel that I couldn’t be sure everyone was as enthusiastic for my plans and guidance as I might have wished.”

It was all there. Frustration. Politics. Reality. Truth was, none of it helped Gilmour solve the van Zanten case one way or the other. Some way, some how, they needed a break.


(1) In September, 1971, a Birchwood youth and his adult companion were found dead down a slope from the Glenn Highway in the Sheep Mountain area. According to police, Lorance Zimmerman, 44, of Spenard, and Paul Hair, 11, of Birchwood were last seen leaving Hair’s home on an errand to Gunsight Mountain. Police would not speculate on how the pair died, but the vehicle they’d been riding in was not found.

The vehicle was later located in Fairbanks. Troopers sent Gilmour to Fairbanks and he ultimately fingered a 21-year-old drifter named Willis B. Mayo, an escapee from the prison farm in Palmer, who was eventually arrested in Washington state for the murders. But not without controversy. The Fairbanks district attorney complained about what he saw as interference by Gilmour, because an Anchorage-based trooper had taken over an investigation in the Fairbanks Police jurisdiction.

For more on the Mayo case, get Cold Crime, by Tom Brennan.


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Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Hansen Faces Charges

In March of 1972, Robert Hansen went to trial for his Assault with a Deadly Weapon charge against the real estate secretary. In the vagaries of the criminal justice system, the kidnapping, rape and assault with a deadly weapon charges brought against him in the Sandra (Robyn) Patterson case were dropped in return for a no contest plea in the other case.

At his trial, Hansen’s minister — his wife Darla was extremely religous — testified on his behalf, portraying him as a good Christian man who provided an excellent Christian environment for his wife and family. Much was also made of the fact that Robert was a hardworking soul who worked two jobs to provide for his family. The good reverend recommended leniency in the charges against his lost little sheep.

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Robert Hansen at his 1972 arrest (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Hansen was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment on the charges involving the real estate secretary, but the judge granted him a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS). By June of 1972, Hansen had been transferred to a halfway house.

“Hansen was back on the prowl, driving the Avenue, whetting his appetite for excitement while still in the Half Way house.” Sgt. Glenn Flothe


Walter Gilmour was having none of it — for all the good it did him. The following excerpt is taken from an early draft of Butcher, Baker.

“I had not been persuaded by the goody two-shoes bullshit of the defense. I could care less that Hansen was a world class bow hunter who owned the record for a Dall’s sheep, even if it did have a fresh bullet mark in the horns. To me, he was just an ugly, pockmarked man who wore glasses and stuttered. To me, he was a clumsy, and therefore dangerous, kidnapper and rapist, who might very well have killed Beth van Zanten. Still, there was a general feeling among the Troopers at the time that Hansen was not our man. He was, so the feeling went, just too wimpy to fit the profile of a killer.

“I can usually take or leave the opinions of psychiatrists, and I only have confidence in their diagnosis when it happens to agree with mine. But after his arrest for the abduction of Sandra (Robyn) Patterson, Hansen was given a psychiatric evaluation by Dr. J. Ray Langdon, and I still find his thoughts illuminating. Dr. Langdon found that Hansen ‘exhibited a compulsive personality structure with thought disorder, perhaps with periodic episodes during which he dissociated in a psychotic rather than neurotic fashion.’ The good doctor concluded that, assuming his diagnosis was correct, Hansen’s mental illness ‘would be very difficult to treat successfully.’

“Langdon also included his evaluation the finding that Hansen ‘in his teens used to fantasize doing all sorts of harmful things to girls.’

“When all the psychiatric gobbledygook was cleared away, it was evident that Dr. Langdon didn’t think much more of Robert Hansen than I did. I thought he was a creepy little shit who was not a prime candidate for redemption. As far as I was concerned, Hansen’s fantasies as a teenager were becoming all too real as an adult. Unfortunately, mine was the minority viewpoint.”


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Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Lab Results

As January dragged on, Walter Gilmour was called into the Director’s office, so that Col. Dankworth could brief him on changes in his job responsibilities. No matter the assignment, there was going to be a lab in his life: Gilmour was being shifted to drug investigations and, effectively, being taken off homicides. Even so, the Colonel asked, “By the way, are there any new developments on the McHugh Creek homicide?”

Always willing to say more than he should, Gilmour summarized the state of play.

“I can’t say for sure about the McHugh Creek case,” Gilmour admitted, “but it seems that we just don’t have much information. One of the family members seems to be telling an implausible story with regards to his time table and when he last saw the girl. We have searched his car for physical evidence, but prior to the search he had hit a moose and there is hair and blood all over the car. We haven’t really turned up physical evidence that would link him to the crime.

Lab
Moose Crash Area, Kenai Peninsula

“Reed and I interviewed him, he admits that the photos taken in the parking lot look like the type of track left by his car,” Gilmour continued. “He says the photo of the footprint in the parking lot looks like the shoe print of the guy he was with, but he maintains he wasn’t there.

“He was overheard talking to another person on the phone, saying that he thought he was going to be arrested. He did ask questions about whether or not hair samples taken from him could also be from another Native. You know, whether or not his hair could be identified in the lab, the truth of the matter is that we really didn’t get any foreign hair from the victim combings, or any from her shirt, and that’s all we had to go from.”

Lab
McHugh Creek @ Turnagain Arm (Anchorage Daily News)

“So what’s all this about matching his hair or blood,” Dankworth asked.

“Frankly, he doesn’t know that we don’t have the hair, but someone has been telling him that even if we did have hair, and were able to get a lab match on the blood type from the sperm we recovered from the victim, even that won’t be conclusive. The only thing we really have is the wire that was used to tie her hands and we are playing hell getting the wire identified.”

Gilmour was right. They didn’t have much to go on. The investigation into Beth’s cousin as a murder suspect was at its end, though years later Gilmour would still harbor suspicions.


Walter Gilmour’s narrative is taken from the his early, typewritten notes on “Butcher, Baker,” written in 1983-84. Much of this material ended up on the cutting room floor, as the narrative shifted to the events surrounding Cindy Paulson, a full decade after Beth van Zanten’s murder. It is an honor to share it now, so many years on.


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Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Ron Broughton Returns

After Greg Nicholas pointed the finger at his cousin, troopers gave him the opportunity for a rebuttal or, at least, a reaction. Two days after talking to Greg, they caught up with Ron Broughton. And they confronted him.


INTERVIEW: Ron Broughton, January 7, 1972
“Greg has not been in contact with me. I do not know why he would point the finger at me, although he does many strange things.

“I have no knowledge of Beth or how she was killed. Greg never told me anything concerning Beth. As I stated before, I have no knowledge of the incident or am I involved. I do not believe Greg is involved.

Gilmour: You said you went to the garage. Where did you go after you went to the garage?

Ronnie: From there [the garage] we either went straight to the Montana Club or to Beth’s house. But we were together.

Gilmour: Were you together the whole time at the Montana Club?

Ronnie: No. I walked back and gave Greg a 10 dollar bill and told him I was going to the Alley Cat and cash a check.


The inconsistencies are rife here, even in this short exchange. Consider this one: Ronnie claims he gave Greg a 10 dollar bill. On December 26, Greg told troopers the following: “Ronnie did not have any money. I gave him $20.00.”

More than once, Ronnie testifies differently. Specifically, he twice refers to cashing an Alaska Scallop Fleet check at the Alley Cat bar. Yes, he had money. Hard earned money. Scallop fishing money.

The typical day of scallop fishermen begins with the sound of dredges being hauled, as scallop vessels operate around the clock, making 15 to 21 dredge tows daily. The crew brings the dredge aboard and empties its contents onto the deck where they collect scallop “keepers.”

Ron

It is possible, of course, that the subtlety of meaning has gone missing in these exchanges. Perhaps Greg meant that Ronnie didn’t have any cash, hence the need to front him some money. But that interpretation strains credibility. As in all things with this case, it devolved into inconclusiveness within inconclusiveness. Gilmour was nearing the end of the string, in more ways than one.


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Order my latest book, “What Happened In Craig,” HERE and HERE, true crime on Epicenter Press.

True Crime: “What Happened in Craig” Available – Update

In the enthusiasm for my latest book, I got a little ahead of myself. I announced that the ebook was ready for pre-order, with delivery by September 1, 2018. As those who pre-ordered “What Happened in Craig” know, that option is no longer available. A cancellation notice has been sent in its place. My apologies.

So now comes the correction. Instead of the ebook, the print version will soon be shipping (September 18, 2018). And it is the print version that is now AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER. HERE TOO. Got that? Me too!

Best of all, “What Happened in Craig” will also be ready for purchase at your favorite LOCAL BOOKSTORE. Hooray!

Available

available

UPCOMING Appearances: Alaska Book Week

I’ll be at Alaska Book Week to talk about true-crime and my latest book, “What Happened in Craig.” Hope to see you all there!

  • Anchorage Barnes & Noble, Wed. October 10, 5-8 pm
  • Alaska State Trooper Museum (FOAST), Anchorage, Thu. October 11, 5-7 pm
  • University of Alaska Anchorage Library, Fri. October 12, 4-6 pm

Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Polygraph

In 1972, the results of polygraph tests were inadmissible in Alaska courts. With some notable exceptions, they are still inadmissible. A 2015 Alaska Appeals Court case moved the needle a bit closer to the admissibility of these so-called “lie detector” tests, but the court noted that issues remain:

“[T] wo experts vigorously disagreed as to whether it was possible to accurately discern, from the physiological data collected during a polygraph examination, whether a person was being truthful in their answers during the exam… Dr. Raskin put the accuracy rate of a well-conducted polygraph examination at somewhere between 89 and 98 percent, while Dr. Iacono testified that the accuracy rate was considerably lower—somewhere close to 70 percent, on average.”

Polygraph

The dueling experts clearly reveal the core controversy: there is no scientific evidence that any pattern of physiological reactions is unique to deception. An honest person may be nervous when answering truthfully and a dishonest person may be non-anxious.

A particular problem is that polygraph research has not separated placebo-like effects (the subject’s belief in the efficacy of the procedure) from the actual relationship between deception and their physiological responses. One reason that polygraph tests may appear to be accurate is that subjects who believe that the test works and that they can be detected may confess or will be very anxious when questioned. If this view is correct, the lie detector might be better called a fear detector [emphasis added].  (American Psychological Association; The Truth About Lie Detectors, 2004)


WALTER GILMOUR: “We circulated a composite in the newspapers, produced lots of tips and an extensive log which revealed more about sexual abuse than one cares to believe, but no real breaks in the case. Meanwhile, Greg’s attorney’s were insisting he be given a polygraph test, which I resisted because if he passed it, they wanted me to stop treating him like a suspect. I was with Yogi Berra on this one: ‘It ain’t over ’til it’s over.’ But while I was out of town on police business, my superiors at the State Troopers gave him the box anyway.”


When Alaska State Troopers administered the polygraph test to Greg Nicholas in 1972, it was all about it being a fear detector. Greg’s emotional state prior to the test seemed to indicate he was somehow involved in Beth’s death. The polygraph hoped to test whether that impression matched Greg’s physiological responses.

Greg passed the polygraph test. That result indicated he was not responsible for the death or murder of Beth van Zanten. But… The polygraph operator admitted there was a possibility that the questions he asked were not geared to the “actual circumstances of the investigation.”

The operator indicated that Greg showed deception in response to two questions:

  • Have you ever participated in an unnatural sex act?
  • Have you ever used marijuana?

One supposes that more than a few folks would get “caught” on those two questions, whatever their involvement (or lack thereof). Gilmour was stuck. Or nearly so. There was one more interview subject in his stack of possibilities. That and the lab results.


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Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Deception

After talking to Greg’s friends, some of the troopers got the impression they might be covering for the perpetrator(s). That Elsie Young admitted Greg had paid for her taxi fare, yet told her not to tell the cops he’d done so, looked an awful lot like deception. But there was now another possibility: it wasn’t Greg who left the Montana Club that night; it was his cousin Ronnie. Was he responsible for Beth’s murder, instead of Greg?

Gilmour especially felt the need to unravel the deception and get to the true story, which he felt Greg and his friends had somehow withheld. He might have missed one distiction: his belief that Greg might be withholding information was predicated in part on Elsie Young telling the truth. Deception sometimes takes funny turns. Gilmour nonetheless decided to take another run at Greg. During the course of the interview, Greg Nicholas quickly managed to turn the topic toward his cousin Ronnie. The cops were in no mood to stop him.


INTERVIEW: Greg Nicholas, January 5, 1972 (Gilmour & Reed)
“I don’t think Ronnie is mean, but he could very easily become mean. He is always talking about his muscles and strength. He is totally a different type of person than me. I am not really scared of him, but in the back of my mind I was. So I watch myself at screaming at him.

“I went to Beth’s to see about the babysitting because I was in a hurry to get to Beth’s; then I went to the Fly-By-Night because I wasn’t in a hurry to get downtown. I wanted to stop at the garage around 9:00 or 9:30.

“Ronnie was wearing real hard boots. I can draw a picture of them. (A drawing was obtained of Ronnie’s boot from Greg. Photo lineup showing a number of footprints taken at McHugh Creek Campground was shown to Greg.)

Deception
McHugh Creek Campground – Snow

“The slick-sided foot print that is big looks like Ronnie’s shoe print… I think from your photos it looks like my car and Ronnie may have been at the campground. ‘Oh yeah,’ Greg continued. ‘I did give the key to Ronnie that night.’ Ronnie told me earlier he wished he could take my car. I told Ronnie, ‘If you take me to work and bring me back, I’ll give you the key.'”

Deception

“Yeah, it looks like my car and Ron’s footprints were in the McHugh Creek Campground to me. Ron is the only person who had my key. I had some new keys made up in Kenai. I kept two and gave one to Ron. Ron is the only person who could have used the car while I was in the bar. I think most people notice, Ron is different. Ask Elsie and Mary.

Deception

“Ron knew about my calling Beth. He was listening very close and probably on his way to pick her up. If Beth was sexually molested and hair was found, Ron’s hair would probably look just like mine, wouldn’t it? Well, things look pretty bad for me; it looks like either me or Ron. So I think I’ll leave.

GILMOUR: What are you waiting for to tell the whole story?

GREG NICHOLAS: I am waiting for the lab results.


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