Suspect in wife’s dismemberment arrested
HARBOR SPRINGS, Mich. ” Wearing neither coat nor shoes, a fugitive suspected of killing and dismembering his wife was found hiding under a fallen tree Sunday in a snowbound state park after a bitterly cold night on the run, authorities said.
Police tracked down Stephen Grant about 225 miles north of the suburban Detroit community where body parts believed to be those of his wife were discovered. He was in stable condition and was being treated for frostbite and hypothermia under police guard at a hospital.
Grant was wearing only slacks, a shirt and socks when he was captured nearly 10 hours after he abandoned a truck and set out on foot in Wilderness State Park near the tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin said. He had no weapons and did not resist.
“I don’t think he probably could have made it much longer in those kind of conditions,” Wallin said during a news conference. “I wouldn’t want to be out there unless I was dressed for it.”
Grant, 37, will be returned to Macomb County for arraignment in the death of Tara Lynn Grant, a 34-year-old businesswoman and mother of two who disappeared last month. A torso found in the family home and other body parts found in a park near their home were believed to be hers.
Tara Grant last was seen Feb. 9, and police said the couple had argued that day over her business travels abroad. Her husband reported her missing five days later; he has steadfastly maintained his innocence.
Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said Stephen Grant fled in a friend’s pickup Friday hours after police executed a search warrant on the home in Washington Township. Deputies traced calls from his cell phone and a withdrawal from an automatic teller machine, Wallin said.
After finding the truck just south of the isolated Lake Michigan park, police with tracking dogs searched on foot and snowmobile, aided by a Coast Guard helicopter. They pounded on doors and warned occupants of nearby homes and the handful of cabins inside the park.
“We didn’t know what we were up against,” Wallin said. “We knew he was suicidal, we knew he could be armed and dangerous.”
The helicopter crew, dispatched from the U.S. Coast Guard station in Traverse City, spotted fresh footprints in the snow and guided ground searchers in Grant’s direction, Lt. Jeremy Loeb said.
“We could see where he’d lay down, get up, lay down again,” Wallin said.
After an all-night search, he was found about 6:30 a.m. near Big Sucker Creek, which flows into Lake Michigan, about three miles from where he abandoned the truck, Wallin said.
Grant said nothing as he was hoisted into the helicopter, Loeb said.
His former attorney had called Grant suicidal, but Hackel said it didn’t appear he had tried to commit suicide.
It was unclear why Grant headed to the park, although the family had visited northern Michigan frequently, Hackel said. Temperatures were in the mid-teens and the swampy, heavily wooded park was covered in snow.
Dr. John Bednar, chief of staff at Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey, said Grant was in stable condition. He was being treated for hypothermia and frostbite but was alert and cooperative, Bednar said. The extent of his injuries was uncertain.
An arrest warrant charged Grant with murder, and disinterment and mutilation. An autopsy was being conducted Sunday, but Hackel said he was certain of the identity and he had “no doubt” Stephen Grant committed the murder.
David Griem, a lawyer who has acted as Grant’s spokesman, said Sunday he would no longer represent Grant because of irreconcilable differences. He said Grant didn’t yet have another attorney.
“If I can’t give a client all of my blood, sweat and tears, it’s time for that client to find a new attorney and time for me to move on down the road,” Griem said.
Associated Press Writers David Runk in Detroit and David Eggert in Mount Clemens, Mich., contributed to this report.