In Memory

Dennis Piernick

Dennis Piernick

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10/05/10 10:29 PM #1    

Sharon Paice (Sarlo)

I remember Dennis fondly. He was so bright and had so much to offer the world. Who knows, he may have discovered new planets or been the one to figure out how to change the course of killer astroids, but all those possibilities died when someone decided to take his life.

About once each year I call the Salt Lake City Police department and ask them if they have anything new in Dennis case.  It just seems wrong that no one's working on it and that the case has slipped into one of those "unsolved" things.  There should be some justice for Dennis. 

10/07/10 11:11 AM #2    

Dennis Anderson (Anderson)

Dennis was a true character.  I was always amazed at his huge energy and his many talents.  Some of it was a bit of an act (like the many "languages" he spoke) but most was real talent and intelligence. 

Dr. Piernick continued to excel after his outstanding high school days. It's not verified but at the reunion Nancy Peterson recalled that dennis had earned three PhD's: one in Astrophysics- he discovered a comet which is named after him),  one in Chemistry, and another in Mathmatics? He was a visiting proverssor at the Universtiy of Utah at the time of his death.  He was in his late 30's.

Thank you Sharon for your comments.  I did not know Dennis was killed by someone.  I believed all these years that he died in an accidental fire in an apartment complex.  Thank you too for keeping the cold case alive.  Someone should have to pay the price for taking his life.  One can only guess about what he would have accomplished but I like your notion that he may have been an astro physicist or something along those lines.  It would have suited him.

He was a creative character to be sure and our yearbook leaves evidence of that.  Thanks to Marilyn to loaning me our senior book - I lost mine somewhere along the way and have not seen it for about 40 years - I have been able to thumb through the memories.

One is of Dennis's production of the picture of "grand old Weber."  He rounded up a bunch of us one night to tape celophane to the windows so he could take a truly unique picture of our school. The picture is on page 32.  I don't know if he was satisfied or not with the result but it was sure fun working with him on the project.  He loved to decorate stuff and as I recall he decorated the old gym for a few of our dances.

He also produced the picture on page 113.  It was taken at some peril at the waterfall at the mouth of Ogden Canyon.  It was like climbing a rocky slippery slide but we got away with it. Maybe Lou can tell us what he was pointing at but I know Dennis was always adding a lot of drama to whatever he did.




10/18/10 04:38 AM #3    

Leon McEntire

I'm so out of touch, I didin't know Dennis had been murdeded.  Can someone recall the details.  I'm sure I 'm not the only who lost track of him.  I have ofter wondered of him and what he did with his talents.   While in class,  we coined a new word that was descrpitive of hin.  We used  to call someone "Piermick" who happeded to show a small spark of genious.  It was a sign of respect for his intellect.  I con't think he was offended by it.  To be offended, would be below him.  He was always looking at issues from a level that were way above us.

10/31/10 01:37 PM #4    

Jan Lambert (Junk)

I always felt like he was a good friend, he talked to me about a lot of things. We did decorate for one of our school dances together. It was Orchid in the Moonlight. Dennis designed a huge orchid made out of chicken wire and purple napkins. We rented a airplane hanger and put it together in 3 pieces, it took 3 trucks to get it back to the school, when we put it together and raised it up to the ceiling it looked not like an Orchid, but a giant bat ready to swoop down on us. We laughed so hard and Dennis was so disappointed, the only thing we could think of was to turn the lights way down low. If any of you remember a dance that was very very dim, it was Orchid in the Moonlight.  I never knew that someone killed him, I would love to know what really happened, because I still think of him. I set him up with a blind date for the dance, and I told him he had to get her a flower to wear, Dennis made one out of paper, it was so pretty, I hope she kept it because it was very special.

11/20/10 03:35 PM #5    

George A. Parker

I was living in Granger (WVCity) when I read about Dennis. He was a professor at the University of Utah. He was one of the smartest people I ever knew. He had been stabbed to death in his apartment. (Very Small article and never heard any more about it.) His brother, Rocky Piernick was living in Big Piney, Wyo. at the time. Dennis was a great loss and I always felt he was desttined for big things. George Parker

11/30/10 01:49 AM #6    

Sharon Paice (Sarlo)

Dennis was murdered on May 16, 1982.  He was found in his apartment at 927 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah by his brother Rocky.  He had been stabbed multiple times and was dead when he was found.  There were signs of a struggle.  The motive is unknown.  He was 39 years old.

My understanding is he was a visiting professor of Astronomy at the University of Utah.  I have heard Dennis discovered an unknown star and it is named for him.

In 2003 Salt Lake Police started a new division to look into the 60 or so unsolved murders in Salt Lake City, they said they were going to release some case information to the families, so possibly, Rocky knows more than this. 

Dennis Piernick is listed as a cold case.

12/01/10 02:55 PM #7    

Don Elmore

 I emailed Chief Chris Burbank of the SLC police department about Dennis Piernick's case. I told Chief Burbank, Weber High School class of 1961 was having a 50 year reunion in June. We would like to have something positive to report to our class.

Sgt. Kelly Kent of the Homicide unit told me that Dennis's case has not been forgotten and is being worked by one of his finest detectives.

Today (Dec 1st 2010) I Talked to Detective Justin Hudson and he informed me they had three suspect's. none were family members. He said he will contact me as things developed. 

Will see, I will let you all know. 



02/20/11 06:31 PM #8    

Nancy Hoover (Russon)

Remembering Dennis: by Nancy Hoover Russon


It was a dance, for girls doing the asking. I asked Dennis Piernick – My confidence must have been high to ask one of the smartest boys of Weber High.  We all rode the same yellow bus and lived in a 2 block area. My mom made my dress, pink satin with black netting lace gathered at the waist line.  I reflect back, I probably looked like a weeble!!


I don’t know who the person was that picked me up at 5650 South and drove me to Dennis Piernick’s houses and drove us to and from Roy to Weber High School (a volunteer?)


When I arrived at Dennis’s house on 5600 South  Dennis’s mom saw me and then walked to her coat closet and opened the door, pulling out the most beautiful black velvet long length coat and said I could wear it for the evening.  I was given a white gardenia corsage with a red rose bud, it was in a small box.  It smelled beautifully.  I didn’t know about gardenia flowers (gardenia’s are common flowers in Southern California)


Dennis was the perfect gentleman, pomp and ceremony, he was good at it…opening doors/politeness.  My mom gushed at the gardenia, its perfumed fragrance and the black velvet coat. ( I returned the coat the next day).  My mom said we should press it between two pieces of wax paper, and we did.  I put it in my book of remembrance and still have it today.


What a learning experience this was, we were all a bunch of teenagers on a big yellow bus rumbling along to get to and from school.  That too was a learning experience.  The Hoods (they wore black leather jackets) I was scared of them.  They were from Hooper, they played poker in the back of the bus. Liz Page (she saw the humor in this) and she brought a deck of  Old Maid cards for us to play with and we did.  The Hoods didn’t smile, never ever, always serious, not very social.  Happier teens sat in the middle of the bus.  Sometimes the bus was so crowded returning to Roy after school, some kids had to stand.  Once or twice Dennis asked Liz if she would like to sit on his lap until there was a seat available.  I saw he was going to smile but it was just the corners of his mouth…remember he had a Cheshire cat smile!!


Dennis had a quick wit and was our friend, everybody’s friend, truly he was.


He asked me out again. (What a gentleman really)  He now had his driver’s license and we went into Ogden at a Mexican restaurant.  We were laughing and not paying attention when he tried to make a lane change.  We were luckily/blessed nobody was hurt or car dented.  Then he lit into conversation-scolding himself- “What was I thinking?, Why did I do that? I can’t believe I did that!”  I enjoyed being in his company.  We were teenagers growing up.


Thanks Dennis for the memories.  They were nice ones.


Love, Nancy

07/18/12 03:29 PM #9    

Christy Shaw (Griffin)

Jan Lambert Junk called me and said that in Saturday, July 14, 2012 Standard Examiner there was an article about Dennis Piernick:. This is the Article:


.Salt Lake City police say they are closing the books on a 30 year old murder case, but no one will be charged.  The suspect died in a car crash seven years ago  Police say a witness who was afraid to come forward years ago told investigators recently that a 17-year-old runaway confessed to the murder a year after it happened.

Dennis Piernick was found dead of stab wounds at his Salt Lake City apartment.  Police say the purported confession - along with a backpack, clothing and a pack of cigarettes left at the scene - ties Rodney Van Komen to the crime.  Van Komen, however, died in a car accident in 2005.  Police say Van Komen was a runaway who frequently stayed with a friend at Piernick's apartment complex.





08/04/16 05:34 PM #10    

David R. Albright

Dennis Piernick lived in our neighborhood.  During our Senior year he acquired a car.  At the bus stop he asked if there was anyone who would like a ride to and from school (for around 25 cents a round trip).  About 4 - 5 of us signed up.. paid our quarter and enjoyed the ride.

His car?  An aging 4 door black mortuary hearse !  While it rode a little rough.. we didn't care.  It performed its transportation function.  And that beat riding the bus.


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