The Justice Files: In search of mother

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Jeremy Steck grew up knowing he was different.

He was adopted at birth and never knew who his mother was.

“As I grew up, as I got older, I felt like I didn’t fit where I was,” Steck said. “I didn’t look like these people.”

He knew he was adopted but throughout his early life he yearned to know who his parents were.

In 1995 he learned that his mother was Melissa “Missy” Griggs. She was found murdered on a Salt Lake City street.

“It was devastating,” said Steck who lives in Illinois.

Back then, Griggs who was also from Illinois moved to Salt Lake City. According to family members she was estranged because of her lifestyle that including drugs and stealing. Her niece said Griggs’ upbringing was rough.

“My aunt had gotten pregnant when she was 12 or 13 years old because the kids were left to their own devices,” said Jennifer Ross.

Griggs ended up in Salt Lake City, but Ross said the family isn’t sure what brought her to Utah. Court records showed Griggs had a history of shoplifting, traffic violations, and prostitution.

In November, 1995, Ross and the family learned of her whereabouts after getting a call from Salt Lake City police.

“This happened two days before Thanksgiving,” Ross said. “We got a call and learned they had found her, that she was dead.”

Nearly 25 years later, the murder of Melissa “Missy” Griggs remains unsolved.

Following her murder, relatives contacted Steck’s adopted family about the news. He said he never remembered crying about his biological mother.

“I was shocked, I was worried,” Steck said. “I was like ‘man is this how my life is going to come to?'”

Steck, like his mother was a drug addict. His own life was
falling apart. He was married with three children and hit rock bottom.

“I thought I was going to lose my own family,” he said.

Then he found God and his life changed.

It was during his road to recovery that he soon discovered who his biological father was. His father was Griggs’ boyfriend.

“It’s amazing,” he said about his father. “I swear, I grew up with him my whole life. We have the same mannerisms. We look alike. We had the same problems.”

Steck’s grateful he’s adopted, unsure what his life would have been had he been raised by Griggs, but he hopes her murder will be solved.

So does Jennifer Ross.

“I just feel like somebody has to know something, remember something,” Ross said. “I just feel like we’re running out of time.”

Griggs’ remains are still with authorities in Salt Lake County. Ross said in 1995, there was a mix up in getting them returned to Illinois. She said they hope to get that straightened out soon and have a proper burial for Griggs.

Meanwhile, Salt Lake City police welcome any information about Griggs’ unsolved murder. Their tip line does allow for anonymity.

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