The unsolved murder of Marilyn Greyeyes

Posted at 5:05 PM, Feb 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-12 00:37:44-05

SANDY, Utah - Sandy Police have been trying to solve the murder of a young woman for more than three decades. The case's detective says science has run its course and now they're just hoping that someone can help tie everything together.

On October 28, 1979, 20-year-old Marilyn Greyeyes was found bludgeoned with a rock, pistol whipped and sexually assaulted near 1800 East and 8600 South, an area now known as Flat Iron Mesa Park.

Police say Greyeyes was last seen alive leaving a party in Salt Lake City. Her body was found by hikers the next day.

"She was found naked with her hands tied behind her back, one sock on. She was bludgeoned with a rock and during autopsy they found a piece of metal that turned out to be the trigger guard on a handgun," said Sandy Police Det. Chris Thomas.

Detectives had their suspicions about who committed the crime, focusing on three men, particularly Rick Hyland, a co-worker of Greyeyes.

In 1984, a pistol with a missing trigger guard surfaced in another case. Police learned it was the gun used to beat Greyeyes. A trace of the weapon found that at the time of the murder, the gun belonged to James Phillip Howdyshell, who was a friend of Hyland.

"He was one of the three people that were up there on that hill with her for sure," Thomas said.

Howdyshell was charged with the murder, but charges against him were dismissed when Hyland refused to testify against him.

Hyland later died in prison while Howdyshell drifted in and out of prison on various other charges and the case stalled again.

Now more than three decades later, two of the three people believed to have been involved in the crime are dead and police still haven't figured out what happened that day.

Thomas, who inherited the case a couple years ago, reexamined all the evidence, but says he wound up at the same place as other detectives before him.

Now he's hoping someone who witnessed the crime or knows about what happened that night will come forward and help solve the crime.

"That's no more information than we had in 1984," Thomas said. "If there's somebody out there that knew about it back then and would want to come forward and talk about it, with firsthand information, that'd be fantastic," Thomas said.

Anyone with information can call 801-840-4000.