The Cleanup Man

March 18th, 2010

FBI Agent Jonny Grusing “the right person” for the case

By John Aguilar
Camera Staff Writer

The FBI assigned Special Agent Jonathan Grusing to investigate Kimball in connection with the missing-persons cases in late 2006. (Marty Caivano / Camera)

Although the families of Scott Kimball’s murder victims are furious at the FBI for keeping him out of prison as an informant, they make a clear exception for Special Agent Jonny Grusing.

“When they picked Jon Grusing, they picked the right person,” said Howard Emry, who spent months trying to get the FBI to investigate the January 2003 disappearance of his daughter LeAnn.

Only once Grusing took Kimball’s case in late 2006 did Emry and the other families start to feel like someone at the bureau cared.

Assistant U.S. District Attorney Dave Conner, who prosecuted Kimball on federal firearms charges, called Grusing “the best criminal investigator I’ve ever seen.”

“He ended up with a very complex case where the stakes are very high,” Conner said.

Grusing, a 13-year FBI veteran who has worked bank robberies and terrorism cases out of the bureau’s Denver office, called the Kimball case an “elaborate puzzle.”

It required him to be especially thorough and prepared when questioning his suspect, who deftly fished for information and seamlessly switched topics in an effort to direct interrogations.

“He has the ability to quickly assess whoever is interviewing him and find out what makes them tick,” Grusing said. “I knew we weren’t going to get straight answers from him.”

The unflappable agent did his homework by talking to dozens of Kimball’s associates, family members, lovers, ex-wives, friends and fellow inmates and by scouring Kimball’s computers and financial records.

Because Kimball sees knowledge as power, Grusing said he leveraged the information he held to extract what concessions or admissions he could from his subject.

“We needed to build a case so solid that he could not knock down walls,” Grusing said.

Lori McLeod, whose daughter died in August 2003, said she might sue the FBI for wrongful death, but her fury doesn’t extend to Grusing, who still keeps in touch with the victims’ families.

“They sent him in to fix all the shit they dumped on us,” McLeod said. “I think he was passionate about it.”

Boulder County Deputy District Attorney Katharina Booth said she sympathizes with the families for the difficulty they had getting information from the FBI. But she said the bureau went a long way toward redeeming itself when it finally opened an investigation and put Grusing in charge.

“To the extent that they had felt ignored before, the opposite happened with Agent Grusing,” she said.

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