Kansas Cold Cases: Gary Leo Nelson
(WIBW/KWCH) - - At 101-years old, Jean Nelson’s children say she’s just hanging on, hoping she’ll learn who took the life of her oldest son, Gary.
“It is hard,” Jean said. “He was a good boy. He didn’t deserve what happened to him.”
Thirteen years after Gary was killed, the entire family still feels his absence.
“I don’t think there’s a day goes by that I don’t think about him,” said his daughter Marianne Lyon.
Gary was a father figure to his nephew Leo Duran.
“I was robbed of my dad,” Leo said.
Gary Leo Nelson was a contractor and owned rental properties in the Beloit area. Marianne says some unusual chatter started going around town.
“There was a rumor that somebody was going to kill Gary Nelson,” she recalled.
Around 2 a.m., Dec. 18, 2009, it happened. A person or persons walked through the unlocked door of Gary’s home just outside town, and shot him. He was rushed to Mitchell Co. Hospital, then flown to Wichita.
“Grandma yelled after him – she said, ‘You fight Gary. You fight for Mama,’” Leo said.
Gary died in the operating room. He was 61 years old.
“The look on everybody’s face, especially grandma’s, I’ll never forget,” Leo said.
The entire family was in disbelief.
“I called the answering machine because I knew I’d never hear his voice again, but I could hear it on the answering machine,” his sister Cheryl Duran said.
The family says two other people in the house didn’t see the intruder. They believe Gary said a name before he died, but the lead didn’t pan out. Nearly 13 years later, the family says they still meet regularly with the Mitchell Co. Sheriff’s Office, and Sheriff Anthony Perez says he looks at something related to the case almost every day.
Marianne and her husband Keith live in the home now. They’re preserving the scars - the bullet holes in the walls - just in case.
“We were kind of waiting to see if they ever needed to come and look at any projectiles or anything like that,” Marianne said.
Leo says what happened to Gary is what inspired him to pursue a career as a corrections officer.
“It’s really rewarding when you can really get through to some people, and watch to the light bulb come on that they don’t have to continue down the same path,” he said.
It was on the job that Leo saw a presentation on the Kansas Cold Case deck. It’s a special playing cards coming to the state’s prisons, hoping to heat up cold cases. As he watched, Gary’s face appeared on screen as the three of spades.
“Talk about somebody sucked the air out of the room,” Leo said. “I can’t begin to tell you what that meant to me - what I’m sure that meant to all of us, after all this time.”
It means, after all this time, detectives haven’t given up.
“I believe somebody around here knows and nobody’s talking so far,” Marianne said.
The family has not given up, either.
“Somebody has to pay for what they did to this man and what they took away from him and his family,” Cheryl said.
Gary’s brother Chris agrees.
“It’s not fair that somebody is out there breathing free air, knowing what they did that night,” Chris said.
Leo says justice fits how Gary lived.
“He said at the end of the day, it’s all worth nothing if you can’t live with the man in the mirror,” Leo said. “I would ask the same people - person or people - who did this, ‘Can you live with the man in the mirror?’ I know I couldn’t.”
Anyone with information about Gary Nelson’s murder - or any cold case - should call the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-KS-CRIME.
Note: Additional reporting on the Arthur Goebel case from KWCH-TV.
Prior KS Cold Case Profiles:
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