Convicted killer admits to 11 other murders before dying in prison: ‘You ask yourself who you are. … You are death itself.’

News & Politics

A convicted murderer reportedly admitted to almost a dozen other murders just before he died in prison of cancer,
according to sources who spoke to WOOD-TV.

Garry Dean Artman proclaimed his innocence during a murder trial in 2023, but he called law enforcement officials to confess while he laid on his deathbed months later. The long-haul trucker was a suspect in other murders, but he was never convicted of those.

Artman was reportedly short of breath when he admitted to killing 11 women, but because of his poor health, he offered few details of their deaths. That may make it difficult for investigators to confirm that he was culpable for the murders.

“Our investigative team met with him three times prior to his death to see if there’s any information or case facts they could glean to help solve some of these unsolved murders and missing people,”
said Kent County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Eric Brunner.

“What we can say is just that those three times were fruitful, to an extent,” he added.

Between 1993 and 1996, 17 women were found murdered or had disappeared completely from the Grand Rapids area. Many of them were involved in prostitution.

“You are death itself to those who deserve it”

The 65-year-old man was arrested in Mississippi in 2023 after advancements in forensic genetic genealogy allowed officials to connect him to the rape and murder of 29-year-old Sharon Hammack in Oct. 1996. She was four weeks pregnant at the time of her death.

Among the evidence used at trial to convict Artman were his own writings.

“All the girls I wanted to have and couldn’t when I was growing up in high school, I can now get,” he wrote in a letter from prison.

“You ask yourself who you are. Here is who you are: you are death itself to those who deserve it and life to those who live it,” read a journal entry written by Artman.

He was
sentenced to life in prison in October.

Artman was also charged with a 2006 murder in Maryland and was scheduled to face trial.

Before he died of lung cancer in December, he admitted to murdering a woman whom he had spotted leaving So-So’s lounge in Grand Rapids with a sling or a cast on her arm. That description matched that of 28-year-old Cathleen Dennis, who was last seen on July 7, 1995.

Kent County Sheriff’s Office Detective Andy Hinds called the victim’s son Tommy Dennis on Tuesday to let him know that Artman had confessed to killing his mother 28 years ago when he was only 7 years old.

“I guess he admitted to them that he killed this young black lady, which matches the description of my mom, and he disposed of her body in a dumpster,” said Tommy Dennis to WOOD.

Artman never faced charges in that case, and the victim’s body was never recovered.

“You threw her away like she was trash. You literally treated her like she was trash,” Tommy Dennis added. “I guess in this moment, I do feel a sense of closure, but it is far from satisfying.”

Here’s a news report about the confession:

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