Police nabbed the killer after someone jotted down the getaway car's license plate number.

Nash pleaded guilty, and a Utah judge sentenced him to two life terms for the robbery-murder.

A prison psychologist said of Nash in March 1978, "While he can at times be quite convincing and manipulative, he more generally fails to maintain good interpersonal relations and . . . is not a good candidate for psychotherapy or counseling."

Tom Phalen, Leroy Nash's attorney, who's scheduled to argue his case next week in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Michael Ratcliff
Tom Phalen, Leroy Nash's attorney, who's scheduled to argue his case next week in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Greg West's grave marker in the West Valley.
Michael Ratcliff
Greg West's grave marker in the West Valley.

The psychologist added a cautionary note: "He should be considered a high escape risk and is also likely to try and manipulate himself out of the institution."

Someone should have listened.

In October 1982, the 67-year-old escaped from custody while working as a trusty on a prison forestry crew.

It's uncertain how Nash got to Phoenix within days after fleeing Utah, but he did — and with a plan.

He checked into a motel on East Van Buren Street, scanned the newspaper classifieds, and phoned a Phoenix man who had a blue-steel .357 Magnum for sale.

Nash went to the gun seller's apartment after expressing interest in buying the weapon.

He was carrying a handful of bullets in his pocket.

Nash quickly loaded the gun inside the apartment when the other man went to find a cleaning kit, held the guy up, and fled.

He bided his time for the next several days, securing a senior citizen's bus pass in Phoenix, and scoping out potential locations for his next heist.

The day after Nash murdered Greg West, police found paperwork inside his motel room with the name of and directions to the Moon Valley Coin and Stamp shop.

Nash reminded himself in a note left in his motel room not to allow the coin shop employee to "put hands in vault or on any lock near his desk in back room."

He may have targeted the mom-and-pop store on West Thunderbird because of its proximity to busy Interstate 17, half a mile to the west.

On the morning of November 3, 1982, Nash donned a checkered sports coat, pullover sweater, and Bass shoes and stuck his recently stolen .357 Colt Trooper into a holster.

An hour or so later, he stole a white Ford van from a Phoenix delivery service company and headed to 1930 West Thunderbird Avenue.

He parked a few yards from the coin shop, kept the motor running, and walked with purpose toward the front door.

He was about one minute away from committing another murder and five minutes away from losing his freedom for the last time.

Leroy Nash had been on the loose for 20 days.

These days, Susan McCullough is a doting grandmother, a deeply spiritual woman who lives in Gilbert with her husband of 40 years, Garry.

In November 1982, she was a 32-year-old mother of a 9-year-old daughter who spent her weekdays at the coin shop that she owned with Garry.

She did the books at the store, and employee Greg West provided customer service.

The McCulloughs had hired West more than a year earlier after, Susan says, he kept bugging them for a job.

West was a good-natured Phoenix native with a chubby face and a big head of hair who looked younger than his 23 years.

West's marriage was just nine months old (they had wed on Valentine's Day) and going strong.

The couple bought a cute home in north Phoenix — they had a dog and a parrot — and he seemed to truly enjoy his job at the coin shop and his life, in general.

"He and Cindy were so sweet together," Susan McCullough says. "She was so self-assured, and he was a little shy."

Cindy West worked at the Ambiance Travel Agency, a few doors down from the coin shop.

Susan McCullough says she and Greg West sometimes discussed spiritual matters at work, especially after he'd embraced Christianity about six months before his death.

"Greg loved to joke about things, but he also had this mature and serious side," McCullough says. "He was very much into reading and thinking about the meaning of life and what happens after we leave this Earth."

McCullough says she had a migraine headache on that November morning in 1982, but she went to work anyway after dropping off her daughter at school.

West already was on the job, setting up the display cases for the day ahead, cheerful as usual.

Minutes after West unlocked the front door at 10 a.m., an elderly man came in.

West was sitting in a chair on the other side of the counter, and McCullough took note from her desk a few feet away when the customer expressed an interest in buying some gold and silver.

"I'll take it all," the man said.

"You can have it all," West replied, to the best of McCullough's recollection.

This is how Leroy Nash described what happened next, in a legal document he composed from prison in 1984:

"The conversation ended with Nash requesting the valuables in a display case and drawing a gun. Next, a gunfight occurred with Nash firing 3 shots and West firing at least one.

"There is some discrepancy about who discharged the weapon first. Whatever the matter, West reached for a gun at approximately the same time and fired the weapon. Two more shots were then fired by Nash. West subsequently died. Nash shot West because West drew a gun on him."

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help
Phoenix Concert Tickets