PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The boyfriend of a Whitehall native has been arrested after she was reported missing last month and later found murdered across the country in Washington State.
The victim, 45-year-old Nancy Gardener, was reported missing last Monday by her boyfriend, identified by investigators as William Grisso, also 45.
He is now facing a first-degree murder charge in her death. His bond was set at $1 million.
Gardener grew up in Whitehall and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School. She lived in several states before moving to Washington.
Late Wednesday night, her brother in Whitehall got a call from police in Washington State that Gardner’s body had been found in a wooded area a few miles from the home where she lived with her fiancé.
According to court documents, Grisso reported Gardener missing on the evening of June 30. He told police that he had been out “running errands” and when he returned to their home, she was gone.
Investigators say he also told them that Gardener’s keys, phone and wallet were left in the home, but her Smith and Wesson pistol was gone.
Police say while speaking with Grisso, they found blood on his shoe; and a few days later while searching his vehicle, they found drops of blood there as well and the missing gun.
Investigators tracked down Gardner’s body when they found three photos of flowers on her cell phone.
According to the court documents, “The analysis revealed that these three photos were taken on June 30, 2014, during the time that Grisso returned home but before he reported her missing around 6 p.m.”
Police followed the “coordinates to where the photos were taken,” and that’s where they found Gardener’s body.
Her cause of death was “not apparent due to the condition of the body,” officials say. But a necklace helped them identify her.
The court documents say the couple’s neighbors told investigators that the pair had been overheard arguing the day before her disappearance. He reportedly told her to “get out of the house,” but she refused.
Back in Whitehall, Gardner’s sister, Laura Sweeny, told KDKA-TV News: “I miss her so much. I keep thinking she’s going to knock on the door and come home.”
The victim’s mother, Donna Gardner, said, “She was my youngest. She was very spoiled, but she had lots of friends and went out. I just can’t understand what happened.”
“Nancy was a very giving, caring person,” Sweeny said. “She met up with a lot of guys who traumatized her, and left her in bad shape.”
Her two previous marriages ended in divorce.
An autopsy is scheduled Friday to determine how Gardner died.
Grisso was engaged to marry Gardner, even though he was still married.