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Detectives are determined to solve Lane County murder case

Joni Marie Grigsby was killed in June of 1995 and detectives are confident her killer will be found.

Posted: Feb 16, 2018 1:10 PM
Updated: Feb 16, 2018 1:16 PM

EUGENE, Ore. – It has been almost 23 years since Joni Marie Grigsby was last seen alive.

On June 2, 1995, Grigsby's body was found near the Willamette River in Glenwood, under the bridge heading into Springfield.

Her killer has never been caught, but detectives with the Lane County Sheriff's Office aren't giving up.

"The cause of her death was homicidal violence," detective Dave Silano said. Most details about the cause of her death remain confidential. To protect the investigation, Silano won't talk specifics about weapons, clothing, whether Grigsby was killed where her body was found, or if she was left there.

"Potentially there could have been more than one person," Silano said.

Jon Roberts, Grigsby's brother, said he was locked up in the Lane County Jail at the time she was found dead. He clearly remembers the day he was called downstairs at the jail and given the news of his sister's death.

"Basically, the detective was very direct and he showed me a picture and asked me if it was my sister," Roberts said. "I said yes and he said, 'I don't know how else to tell you this, but she's no longer with us.'"

Now sober and drug-free, Roberts' life is dramatically different than it was 23 years ago. He recalls his sister spending lots of time with large groups in the downtown areas of Springfield and Eugene. Because of the amount of socializing she did, he's confident somebody knows something that could lead detectives to the killer.

Twenty-three years is a long time for a murder case to go unsolved. However, Silano thinks that number could actually work in their favor.

"A lot of times people run around in groups and have a lot of reasons not to talk back then," Silano said. "Now 23 years later, their life has changed and it's not as concerning to come forward."

Silano has help in trying to find the killer. Kirk Engdall is one of two retired detectives who volunteer weekly looking into new leads.

"First of all, I like puzzles, and homicide cases are clearly puzzle cases," Engdall said.

Kurt Wuest also volunteers, and feels there is a good chance this case will be solved.

"A lot of people she knew are still around and she hung out with a large crowd," Wuest said. "There's probably somebody out there who knows something."

Roberts said despite the years, he still has a difficult time processing his sister's death.

"The part that is most difficult to me is the unknowns, who's the perpetrator of violence?" he said. "Also, not having a face or name to address."

Detectives Silano, Wuest, and Engdall said the case needs to be solved for a variety of reasons.

"Somebody out there did it, and should be brought to justice and held accountable for that, closure for the family, and closure for her, she deserves that," Engdall said.

Wuest agrees.

"It's important to me because somebody out there walking the streets killed this woman," he said.

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