GJPD news conference on Benson murders

By: KKCO Email
By: KKCO Email

Though the arrest affidavits in the 1975 murder case against Jerry Louis Nemnich are sealed, GJPD Chief Bill Gardner and District Attorney Pete Hautzinger held a joint news conference this afternoon to briefly discuss the case and present what information they could share.

Yesterday, Nemnich was arrested in connection with the stabbing deaths of 24-year-old Linda Benson and her daughter 5-year-old Kelley Benson in Grand Junction. Authorities weren't releasing the suspect's name at that time as Gardner says investigators had brief window of time to interview other people across the nation involved in the case.

Gardner says throughout the three decade investigation police did not have a clear suspect, just names of people of interest. The case was reopened a year and a half ago due to new advances in technology and a special task force dedicated to solving it was formed. Hautzinger says he doesn't believe Nemnich's name was ever associated with the case previously.

Nemnich was located living in Longmont, Colo. and local investigators worked with officers there while conducting their investigation. Gardner says an arrest warrant for Nemnich was executed after they learned he was a long-haul truck driver and would be driving back through Mesa County. He was arrested April 8 at the Port of Entry near Loma.

Gardner says this is an on-going investigation and would not or could not answer all questions regarding the case. He did ask that anyone who knew Nemnich during the 1970s is asked to call 970-244-3668 as investigators continue to gather information in the case.

Gardner says this case is personal and the GJPD is determined to continue persuing it to bring closure to the victims's family. Both Gardner and Hautzinger mentioned Nemnich was arrested on probable cause and should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Hautzinger says the initial investigation in 1975 was done well and that's why it was possible for current investigators to reopen the case. He cites advanced technology and investigation tactics for the progress, saying every item in the toolbox was utilized in this case. He also says he's committed to getting Nemnich a fair trial.

Hautzinger says no one involved with the local investigaton ever used the term 'serial killer' in reference to Nemnich. He says yesterday a Front Range public information officer mentioned Nemnich might be connected to other deaths on the Front Range. Hautzinger says he's only focused on the Benson's and this case in relation to Nemnich.

The only criminal tie Hautzinger says he can talk about that Nemnich has to the Grand Valley is a 1964 felony conviction for bad checks.

Law enforcement say Linda Benson's sister, brother and mother still live in the area.

11News will have team coverage of this story tonight at 5:30 p.m. Tune in for the full story.

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