Coroner: Rock Hill double homicide suspect died of bleeding on the brain

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comDecember 3, 2013 


— The double homicide suspect who died at the York County Detention Center in October suffered a brain hemorrhage after hitting his head against a jail cell wall numerous times, the York County Coroner’s Office said on Tuesday.

Joshua Matthew Grose’s death has been ruled a suicide and the drugs found in his system are not considered factors that contributed to his death, officials say.

On Oct. 18, deputies charged Grose, 34, with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder after they say he stole neighbor Sandra Thomas’ car and ran over her and his stepmother, Sandra Grose, 65, killing them both. Authorities say he also nearly beat to death his uncle, Curt Allan Sisk, 60.

Grose died two days later, after a nearly two-hour struggle with detention center guards in which he became violent and combative. He fought against officers, after they tried to stop him from banging his head repeatedly against a wall, authorities say.

Officials placed Grose, wearing a football helmet, in a restraint chair, but he continued to struggle. Jailers put him in a cell, but the chair was positioned in a way that allowed him to throw his head backward against the chair and a cell window. He was found unresponsive at about 2:30 a.m., authorities say.

After performing CPR for nearly 20 minutes, an EMS crew took him to Piedmont Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Preliminary autopsy results showed that he died of blunt force trauma to the head, York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said. An extensive autopsy showed he suffered from bleeding on the surface of his brain and in the thin layer of tissue that separates the brain from the skull.

Gast ruled his death a suicide. Toxicology results, showing marijuana in Grose’s system when he died, did not contribute to his death, she said.

Grose had several cuts and bruises on his head, chest, arms and legs, including injuries to his scalp and backside, according to the coroner’s report.

Gast said she reviewed Grose’s medical history, interviewed witnesses and watched footage of the same video reporters were shown during a Nov. 12 news conference at the York County Sheriff’s Office. She determined that Grose intentionally hit his head, but said pathologists could not determine if his brain injuries came when he hit his head against the wall or against the back of the restraint chair.

Video has not been released showing Grose initially hitting his head against the wall, and witnesses, Gast said, did not describe the scenario surrounding him initially hitting his head.

“It takes significant force to make that kind” of injury, she said. “We usually see those kind of injuries from traffic accidents and falls where you land on your head. It would’ve taken some force to cause those injuries.”

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating Grose’s death, spokesman Thom Berry said. It’s unclear when that investigation might be closed.

Deputies are still investigating the deaths of Sandra Thomas and Sandra Grose hoping to give family members closure and establish a possible motive.

“The investigation is still open,” said Sheriff Bruce Bryant in a statement. “We’re still trying to answer unanswered questions by processing evidence gathered at the scene, but some of those questions may remain unanswered because when Mr. Grose took his own life, he also took many of those answers with him.”

Gast’s ruling on Grose’s death “is consistent with the information” officials provided when Grose died and gathered during its own internal investigation, Bryant said. “Despite the heroic efforts of our detention officers, Mr. Grose took his own life.”

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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