Gary Grant Jr. was murdered at age 7 on January 12, 1984, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and his brutal killing was never solved. In fact, someone claiming to be the killer left clues taunting the police in the years following little Gary’s death. But now, nearly 32 years after the boy’s horrifying death, his father has uncovered a new piece of evidence that could lead to a major break in the cold case — an audio tape containing the voice of the killer, or at least, someone claiming to be the killer of Gary Grant Jr.
Gary’s father, Gary Grant Sr., is a now-retired Atlantic City police officer who says that he has never ceased investigating the death of his son. He was not permitted by the department to take part in the initial investigation three decades ago, but that didn’t stop Grant Sr. from conducting his own independent effort to find his boy’s murderer — an effort he continues to this day.
Gary Jr. was excused from school that Thursday afternoon in 1984 due to parent-teacher conferences. The boy’s mom and dad had been separated for about a year at the time, and the 7-year-old who lived with his mother May told her that he was leaving his house for a “meeting” in the afternoon, but that he would be home by 4 p.m.
“I was asking him with who and he said it was a secret. So I thought you know, it’s silly. You know, he’s a little boy, something to do maybe with his little girlfriend around the corner or something,” the mom told the TV program Unsolved Mysteries in an episode that aired in December of 1993. “So I kind of left it at that. He wanted to go out and play so he got dressed and he went out to play.”
But Gary Jr. never came home. His parents got together and searched through the night, with the Atlantic City Police initiating their own search the next morning. By the afternoon, they found Gary’s body, bludgeoned to death with the presumed murder weapon — a lead pipe — lying nearby on the ground in a vacant lot just two blocks from the little boy’s home.
A 12-year-old boy who suffered from developmental disabilities, Carl “Boo” Mason, was arrested for the killing after confessing to detectives. But his story was full of holes, and he passed two polygraph tests when he then denied killing Gary Jr. A judge threw out the 12-year-old’s confession, saying that police had questioned him improperly.
But while going through old tapes this month, Gary Grant Sr. came across the following recording of a 911 call made on what would have, and should have, been Gary Jr.’s 10th birthday — March 8, 1986, according to a report by the Atlantic City Press.
He believes that the voice on the tape belongs to the man who killed his son.
On the tape, the caller first asks, “Is it possible for me to collect a reward on my own self for the murder of Gary Grant?”
Later in the call, the self-proclaimed killer boasts, “You’re never going to catch me.”
“I almost fell off my chair,” Grant Sr. told the paper, describing his reaction when he played the tape.
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But the call may not have been the only time that the killer taunted police. On January 4, 1986, someone scrawled a chilling message on the side of a police patrol car.
“Gary Grant’s dead. I am living,” the message read. “Another will die on January 12th if all goes right.”
Another message was later discovered on a sidewalk.
“Gary Grant Jr. lives. I still killed him,” that message read. “Son of a pig officer. Payback is a M.F.”
Was Gary Jr. killed by someone who had perhaps been arrested by, or otherwise had a confrontation with, Gary Grant Sr.? In addition, the tape purportedly containing the killer’s voice, the retired cop also found another 911 call. This one came from an anonymous tipster who named a specific person.
“He told me he killed Gary Grant Jr. because of the father,” that caller said. “The cops know what he looks like.”
But Grant Sr. now says that he remembers the man named in the 1986 call, “but I don’t recall having any problems with him.”
While the now-retired Atlantic City detective who worked the case 32 years ago, Jim Barber, says that he still believes Carl “Boo” Mason was the killer, the Atlantic City Major Crimes Unit continues to take information on the cold case murder of seven-year-old Gary Grant Jr., offering the number (609) 909-7666 for anyone with relevant information.
[All Photos via Atlantic City Police Handout]