Mulligan Stew: 1986 unsolved murder case seems even colder

Timothy Griewank, a Plymouth native, died this month at his home in Noblesville, Ind.  As a former newspaper reporter, I sometimes feel an obligation, or maybe an opportunity, to post “the rest of the story.”  

It’s really sad that Tim, who was 71, died without ever having a sense of “closure” in the death of his brother, Paul. And while I hate the word “closure,” is there another word that so aptly describes the peace we feel when we learn the details of a tragedy in our lives?

Linda Mullen Clevenger

Paul Martin Griewank (Sept. 24, 1955 – Aug. 02, 1986) was the son of of Warren E. Griewank and Joan  (Anderson) Griewank.  Paul was murdered on Aug. 2, 1986, just outside the Dairy Queen in Plymouth.

Paul managed the DQ and was closing the restaurant on the evening of Aug. 2. He was at the back of the building, probably going to his car, when he was shot in the back of the head.  He died and no one was ever arrested.  To this date his killer, remains unknown. No motive was ever determined and/or announced to the public.

As is the case in most unsolved murders, police usually know the most likely suspect and the most likely motive. In the United States, however, officials have just one chance to convict someone of murder.  If they attempt to prosecute too soon, without all the details and the evidence to prove it, there is a likelihood the suspect will walk free.

Of course, if they don’t make an arrest, the suspect is also walking free. It’s a fine line that prosecutors walk and I’m glad someone else is making that decision. 

Paul’s dad died in 2008 and his mom died in 2013.

The “rest of the story,” is this.  Police and prosecutors believe that it was Warren Griewank who killed his son, Paul, because Warren thought his son was gay.  Allegedly, Warren had recently heard that Paul was gay and he would rather his son be dead than be gay. But there was not enough evidence in 1986 to charge him.  

Ten years after Paul’s death, in 1996, Warren Griewank spoke to two South Bend Tribune reporters about his son’s death. I was one of the reporters and the other, an intern at the time, was John Ferak. John wrote the story, I just went along for safety reasons and for moral support. I was a new reporter when Paul was killed and I remembered it.   

In 1996, Warren Griewank denied involvement in his son’s murder and said the suspicion “sort of irritated me inside.”  Griewank said that on the night of the slaying he was working as a security guard in a nearby industrial park.

A South Bend Tribune story on Aug. 11, 1996, ten years after the murder.

Police initially questioned him, Warren Griewank said, and tested Tim’s hunting rifle for ballistics. “I knew it wasn’t the rifle,” Griewank said.  “I just cooperated with them. It was all sort of nonsense to me.  Paul was a good-natured person and that’s it. He and Timothy were two different types.”

In 1996, Warren Griewank recalled that he had driven by the Dairy Queen on his way to work that night. “It was right at midnight. Paul might’ve been lying there, dead, at that time.” 

Life fell apart for Warren Griewank after Paul’s death. Joan divorced him and Tim became estranged from him; years passed between visits. When his two sons were growing up, Warren Griewank said, he spent more time with Tim, his firstborn son, who was more of an outdoors-type like himself. Paul was more into indoor activities, Warren Griewank said in 1996.

“I got along good with both of them,” he said. “I did more with Timothy because he’s sort of a builder. Paul spent a lot of time on the piano,” Griewank recalled. “I played badminton with him some.”

That single paragraph, I suspect, would have convinced a jury that Warren Griewank hated that Paul may have been gay: “Tim’s sort of a builder. Paul spent a lot of time on the piano. I played badminton with him some.”  

Can you just imagine the coolest P.I. on television, pacing in front of the jury, repeating: “Paul spent a lot of time on the piano. I played badminton with him some.” It would make a mockery of Warren Griewank, for his stereotypical views of gay people, and of his son, Paul.

“Paul spent a lot of time on the piano. I played badminton with him some.” That phrase wraps up a motive for murder. It implies that Warren was embarrassed and ashamed of Paul for wanting to play badminton and the piano.

Of course, I don’t have enough evidence or power to charge him, posthumously, but I know enough to suggest to a jury of his peers that Warren Griewank likely killed his own son that night. 

And that’s a tragedy and a shame. 

I like to believe that Paul and Tim are reunited in heaven today, maybe playing badminton.