‘On the Case with Paula Zahn: A Face with No Name’ on Investigation Discovery describes how 27-year-old Gina Gruenwald was discovered brutally killed in Denver, Colorado, in late August 2004. Even though the detectives discovered forensic evidence linking the offender to the crime, they had to wait almost ten years before getting a hit. We’ve got your back whether you’re curious to learn more about the case, the killer’s identity, or where they are right now. So let’s get started, shall we?
How Did Gina Gruenwald Die?
On November 9, 1976, Annie Gruenwald gave birth to Gina Gail Gruenwald in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in Tulsa County. In addition to playing softball in college at Oklahoma State University and becoming a second mother to her younger siblings, Sarah Campbell and Emily Collier, she had been a standout athlete in high school. They talked about how Gina would always get them whatever they wanted, and Emily said, “She spoilt us for sure.” She relocated to Denver in Denver County, Colorado, after graduating, where she lived in an apartment with her friends.
She was the hardest worker I had ever known, according to Gina’s friend and flatmate Melissa Sullivent. “Gina was the most loyal person you would ever meet,” Melissa Sullivent recounted. She was a fairly wonderful friend and had no fear of anything. Gina did not appear to have “one bad bone in her body,” according to her friend Brandy Harris, making everyone like her. So it came as a shock when a man going for his morning newspaper on August 21, 2004, at 6:00 AM, found the 27-year-old’s lifeless body in the breezeway between two residences.
The person noticed a sizable amount of blood and dialled 911 right away. When the rescue personnel came, they discovered Gina laying face-up with at least one neck injury that resembled a stab. The forensic pathologist saw that she hadn’t been dead for long and calculated a time range using her body temperature that was roughly between 2:30 and 5:30 AM. The victim’s carotid artery and jugular vein were seriously injured, according to the autopsy, and the stabbing to her neck was determined to be the cause of death.
Who Killed Gina Gruenwald?
Gina was fully dressed, but her jeans were undone, and her shirt was partially lifted while her belt was off, according to police sources. Although the autopsy revealed she had not been raped, the evidence pointed towards sexual assault. Additionally, the medical examiner discovered a bite mark on her left wrist as well as significant bruises throughout the front and left side of the face. Once it was determined that the injury was suspicious, forensic specialists thoroughly swabbed the area and gathered material for DNA testing.
The murder weapon, a blood-spattered knife, was discovered alongside the victim’s body, and there were also blood stains on the breezeway’s left wall. The area in front of the house had been disturbed, and there were shoe prints in the mud that might have been the site of the altercation. The victim’s pockets appeared to have been searched as blood was found inside both of her pockets, and there was change and lipstick outside of her left pocket. The findings suggested Gina may have been the victim of a robbery and attempted sexual assault.
The police concentrated on identifying the victim while the forensic specialists ran the DNA profile. They observed that she had no pocketbook, ID, or credit cards with her. When Melissa reported her friend and roommate, Gina, missing, they made progress in their inquiry after around 14 hours. According to her account, the 27-year-old was last seen a few miles from the crime scene. Based on her description, she and another friend, Brandy Harris, were dispatched to the coroner’s office to identify the Jane Doe.
Gina was positively identified by her distraught friends, and when the police questioned them, they learned that she and Brandy had been out drinking and dancing on August 20. Around 2:00 AM, the latter informed the police that she wanted to finish the night, but Gina insisted on going to an after-party a little distance from the Denver bar they had been at. Around 2:00 AM, according to Brandy, she was last seen leaving with two unidentified women. She claimed Gina had taken a red automobile with her two female acquaintances after leaving her car at the pub.
Inferring that Gina never got back from the party and was slain in the interim, the police searched Gina’s car and discovered her purse and phone. After the murder narrative was reported by the media, the two young women voluntarily stepped forward. They claimed Gina was unsure of the place, and although driving in the right direction, they were unable to locate the party. Despite their discomfort leaving the girl alone at that hour of the night, the women claimed the victim asked they drop her off there.
Although the two women were first accused by the authorities, they were exonerated after DNA testing revealed that a male donor was responsible for the bite mark on Gina’s hand. A black duffel bag was also discovered nearby by the authorities, some 15 feet from the body. When they examined it, the authorities discovered a shirt, a do-rag, a razor, and two time-stamped receipts from a nearby dollar store and Walgreens. The officers looked through the security footage from both establishments to search for the offender after the clothing items and the razor matched the DNA from the bite mark.
The police were able to reconstruct a partially clear image of the culprit from Walgreens surveillance tape, whereas the dollar store only provided a blurry image. The police shared the image, but it took them close to seven years before they made a breakthrough. Billy Jene Wilson, 42, was found to match the DNA taken from the crime site in April 2011 by CODIS. After he was detained more than 1,000 miles away in San Francisco on an unrelated felony accusation, his DNA was added to the federal database.
Where is Billy Wilson Now?
In the weeks preceding Gina’s murder, Billy, according to police sources, had travelled to Denver for a drug rehab programme to address his alcohol and drug abuse issues. However, he had strayed from the plan and was residing on the streets on August 21, 2004, when he discovered her. Despite Billy’s claims that he killed the woman accidentally, the prosecution presented proof that he and Gina had a falling out. They asserted that he attempted to rob her, assaulted her sexually, and killed her when she defended herself.
According to the medical examiner’s testimony, the victim may have attempted to grasp the knife and battled because of her cut between her left thumb and index finger and bruised knuckles on her right hand. On July 19, 2012, the jury ultimately took the side of the prosecution and determined Billy guilty of attempted sexual assault, felony murder, and second-degree murder. The 54-year-old is being held in custody at the Sterling Correctional Facility in Sterling, Colorado after being given a life sentence without the possibility of release in August 2012.