Cold Case: Gresham’s most gruesome murder

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GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — Rosealie Girtz and 2 other women were gunned down at a gas station 22 years ago in what’s been called Gresham’s most gruesome murder.

The suspect, Tyrom Theis, has been on the run ever since.

Now, for the first time, Girtz’s family is speaking out.

“This is the first time someone has been interested in even doing anything about the case,” Rose Smeltzer, Girtz’s daughter, told KOIN 6 News.

In 1994, 51-year-old Girtz worked at the Leather’s Oil Company gas station. What’s now an abandoned building on the city’s east side was once a grisly crime scene.

“I just remember them saying ‘Rosealie is gone,’ and I said ‘Gone, gone where? Where did she go?'” Girtz’s sister Charlene Wrisley recalled. “She’s dead.”

Decades later, Wrisley says she still has questions about her sister’s murderer.

“How did he get away so easily without even being seen? Somebody had to have helped him,” she said. “I worry he might hurt somebody else.”

The 42-year-old hasn’t been seen since the murders. Officer John Rasmussen says the Gresham Police Dept. received its latest tip about him just 6 months ago.

“The evidence on the table is only a small portion of what was collected that day,” Rasmussen said. “There’s a strong case against [Theis].”

Theis allegedly skipped town a few days after the gas station shooting. He once worked with the victims but was suspended for stealing, police said. After he killed the women, police said Theis allegedly stole thousands of dollars.

His cousin, Larry Scherf, was in a getaway car driven by Lori Stephens.

Wrisely called her sister’s murderer “evil”.

“Only evil does something like that,” she said.

A passerby found skeletal remains near the Troutdale Airport 2 years after the crime. But dental records later determined it wasn’t Theis.

“If he’s alive, let him answer for it,” Rasmussen said. “Let him go through the court process. It’s not a given he’d be found guilty, but it’s a given he needs to come forward.”

Scherf and Stephens were arrested a month after the murder. They each served 10 years in prison. When asked to talk about the case, Stephens told KOIN 6 News she already told her story in court.

If you know anything about the cold case call 503.618.2719.

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