Michael Grimm was a good-looking guy. He hung out in West Hollywood, in Palm Springs and in San Diego. Six feet tall, he weighted 180 pounds. His eyes were a shining ice blue, and given that his head was shaved, they were his most arresting feature. But then there was that smile.
On Nov. 23, 2000, Thanksgiving Day, Grimm, then 33, was in the Warm Sands neighborhood of Palm Springs, a popular winter getaway place for gay men like him. His friends and family haven’t seen him since.
Is Michael Grimm dead? If so, where are his remains? Is he alive? If so, where is he living?
Grimm’s mother, Gail, has been looking for an answer to those questions for 17 years. Her search has focused on the desert area and on West Hollywood and San Diego where Grimm often stayed with friends.
“There were rumors and reports that he had been shot and killed,” Gail said. “It has been years and years of investigation, and it’s been a cold case. But I made a promise that I would keep trying and trying.”
The search for answers has been incredibly complicated for his mother and for Sgt. Paul Mondry of the Homicide Division of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department. Mondry, who handles “cold cases,” inherited the Grimm case from Sgt. Rich Longshore, who was well-known for his involvement in cases such as the “Westside Rapist,” serial killer John Floyd Thomas, and murderous photographer William Bradford. Longshore left the Homicide Bureau in 2005 and died in 2013, leaving the case in Mondry’s hands.
Mondry said one complication is that that multiple law enforcement agencies have been involved, with the Palm Springs Police Department the first one to look into the disappearance. Police in Houston were also involved. When it was turned over to the L.A. Sheriff’s Department as a cold case Longshore got involved.
Mondry said that Longshore traveled a lot to interview people at multiple places, including West Hollywood, where Grimm was known to hang out. In many of those areas Grimm’s mother had put posters asking for help.
“It’s like everyone was pointing the other way,” Mondry said of the interviews. The young man didn’t have a steady place of residence, Mondry said, which added more difficulty to the search. An artist, Grimm had lived in Florida and Texas before moving to Southern California.
Then there was the drug issue, with the drug apparently methamphetamine. According to Gail, who asked WEHOville not to disclose her last name for privacy and safety reasons, “Michael had substance abuse problems that he seemingly overcame for a good ten-year period. Closer to the time that he had disappeared, he had fallen back.”
Mondry said the investigation showed that Grimm had made some enemies when he got into the drug culture. “When people get involved in drugs, you get enemies very quick,” he said.
Living as a transient with drug issues and then being out of touch with friends and family for 17 years means it is highly likely that Michael Grimm, who today would be 50, is dead. But Mondry said there’s no way to be sure because Grimm’s remainis haven’t been found. He noted the vastness of the desert surrounding Palm Springs where a body could be left.
Mondry still hopes he will learn what happened to Michael Grimm as does, of course, Grimm’s mother.
While no one was willing to confess 17 years ago that they knew something about the killing , the passage of time sometimes changes things, Mondry said. “Sometimes people who have removed themselves from drugs, they just want to clear their hearts.”
Mondry welcomes calls to his own Sheriff’s Department number, which is (323) 890-5672 from anyone who has a tip. Those who want to share an anonymous tip can call Crimestoppers at (800) 222-8477 or visit the Crimestoppers site online.
“Even if It’s hearsay – hearsay does have a root you can identify,” Mondry said.
But perhaps the most important reason to close this cold case is Gail, Grimm’s mother.
“It’s likely that he has already gone to rest somewhere,” Mondry said of Grimm. “But we would like to help his mother put this to rest.”
Gail is digitally distributing the posters about Michael’s disappearance that she once posted physically while walking through WeHo and Palm Springs and San Diego. She also has created a website — www.findmichaelgrimm.com –that offers information on the posters.
The bottom of the poster carries a statement from Gail that says it all:
“Michael, I will never give up. Love you forever, love you for always.” — Mom