Greer murder probe remains stalled
September 7, 2012
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
Brian Greer is not happy with the progress of an investigation into the 2009 murder of his father, and is particularly upset that San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s detectives seem to periodically refocus on him as a suspect.
Gerald (Jerry) Greer, 71, was sleeping in his Templeton home when a fusillade of bullets tore through his body, killing him instantly. The March 28 slaying has remained unsolved, and Brian Greer said he believes the probe has been compromised by several changes in the sheriff’s homicide team.
“Their investigation has gone nowhere. And every time they get a new lead investigator, they start over, and they start with me,” Brian Greer said.
No comment on Brian Greer’s assertions was forthcoming from sheriff’s officials. (See update below.)
“The case was huge, as my dad knew everyone,” Brian said.
The Greers are a family with deep ties to the area, settling on a ranch on Santa Rita Road in 1940. Jerry Greer and his three siblings all attended Templeton High School, where he graduated in 1957. He was a quiet man, well-known and popular in the community, and his mysterious murder rattled people in Templeton and surrounding areas for months afterward.
It also has transformed and divided the Greer family.
Brian Greer, 45, is a sergeant at Soledad State Prison. He recalled that his father’s body was discovered on a Saturday, but sheriff’s officials did not immediately notify him or his sister of the death. Instead, he heard about the slaying when a coworker sent him a text the following Monday.
By then, he said, investigators had already completed their forensic examination of the murder scene, and had turned the house over to the victims’ brother, Gene, the night before.
“To me, that seems awful fast to collect evidence,” Brian said. And when sheriff’s deputies recovered Jerry Greer’s will in the house, it listed Brian and his sister, Debbie Thompson, as the only beneficiaries.
Gene Greer had discovered his brother’s body after Jerry failed to show up with a tractor part. The front door was locked, the back door standing open. The house appeared undisturbed.
Family problems started almost immediately, Brian said. His uncle “virtually helped himself” to Jerry Greer’s belongings, apparently allowed by deputies, and it took a subsequent court ruling for Brian and his sister to recover the goods.
Brian said he knew that his father’s immediate family would lead the list of suspects.
“That’s just the way it is,” he said. “I wanted the sheriff to look at me as soon as possible, because I know family comes (under suspicion) first. I volunteered my computer, my cell phone, my DNA, anything they wanted. I got my computer back two months later, scratched, the hard drive disconnected. No respect.”
According to Brian, investigators looked closely at a young woman who lived in the neighborhood, who had problems with drugs and the law, and her boyfriend, a Los Osos resident, but that trail dried up when the pair retained an attorney.
Brian claims investigators botched what he considered a solid lead he had provided.
“About six months ago, Det. Dave Marquez began contacting me,” Brian said. “He brought a team of detectives out to the house, with my permission, to look things over. I was told they were newly assigned. I gladly opened my house to them as I didn’t want to impede their investigation.”
But even then, Brian said, the probe’s focus always seemed to land back at his feet.
“I had been running ads on Craiglist, repeating circumstances (of his father’s murder) and asking for help. A girl from Atascadero called me. I talked to her in person. She told me she had spoken with a man three years ago about the murder, who told her that a group of three or four people from Atasdcadero plotted the murder,” he said.
Robbery was said to be the motive, Brian said, because his dad was known to keep substantial amounts of cash in the house, but nothing appeared to be missing in the aftermath.
“That girl gave me the name of a woman she thought was involved,” Brian said, adding that he immediately gave the sheriff all the information.
“But instead of asking me about her, [a detective] sat me down and questioned me all over again. He had me write what I was doing the six days prior to the murder, and wanted to know what guns I owned. These are questions I had already been asked, but I didn’t object and answered all their questions.”
Brian said he “was disturbed that after all this time they were still considering me a suspect. I told them they wouldn’t find my DNA in my dad’s house as I had nothing to do with this.”
The detective said, “Only you know if you killed your dad. Why don’t you just admit it?”
A few weeks later, detectives contacted Brian and asked for information on the conversation he had with the young woman.
“They said I had either given them the wrong number or they had lost it. I had already deleted the number from my cell phone. It really pisses me off that they waited all that time to follow up on that information.
“My dad was the most important person in my life,” Brian added. “He meant everything to me. And the investigators — they have come up with nothing.”
Brian and his sister are offering a substantial reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
UPDATE: A day after initial requests by CalCoastNews, sheriff’s public information officer Tony Cipolla provided the following “official statement” from the department: “In order to protect the integrity of this ongoing, active investigation, the sheriff’s office cannot currently release any information about this case.”