Shortly after reporting his wife missing last month, Stephen Grant went before TV cameras, crying, begging her to come home.
But authorities were suspicious.
“We thought it was a confession waiting to happen right then,” Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said Monday without elaborating.
Police said the alleged confession finally came Monday, more than three weeks after Tara Grant last was seen alive.
Stephen Grant, 37, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder and dismemberment of a body, and Judge Denis LeDuc entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Authorities, however, say Grant told them after his arrest early Sunday that he killed his wife in the couple’s home and later dismembered her.
Grant had no attorney at the arraignment. David Griem, who acted as his spokesman, said Sunday he no longer would represent Grant because of irreconcilable differences.
The judge said he would appoint a lawyer for Grant. He also ordered him held without bail.
“Given the extreme, extreme seriousness of the charges, the nature of the allegations here, the nature of the alleged flight, the court agrees with the people. I’m going to order you held without bond. Do you understand that?” the judge said.
“Yes, your honor,” Grant replied.
Grant was arrested after investigators tracked him to a park at the tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. He was treated for hypothermia before he was returned Monday to Macomb County outside Detroit to face charges.
Sheriff Mark Hackel said Monday that Grant “gave a very lengthy confession, laying out exactly what took place.”
But he didn’t offer a motive, said Smith, the prosecutor.
“Evil rarely explains itself,” the prosecutor said. “To us, it’s not an element we have to prove.”
Autopsy results suggest Tara Grant was strangled on Feb. 9, said Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz. That was the date she was last seen alive after returning from a business trip to Puerto Rico. Police have said the couple had recently argued over her frequent trips.
Waited to report wife missing
Grant waited five days before reporting his wife missing. Investigators found her torso Friday in the garage of the couple’s home in suburban Detroit. Other body parts turned up in a nearby park.
The remains showed signs of a struggle, including neck bruises, according to Spitz. It was unclear when the body was dismembered.
Smith said investigators believe that the couple’s two children — a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy — were asleep in the home and didn’t witness the slaying.
A child custody hearing for the children was scheduled for later Tuesday, and Smith said his office planned to petition the family court to terminate Grant’s parental rights.
Smith said the Michigan Department of Human Services recommends the children live with Tara Grant’s sister, Alicia Standerfer, and her husband in Chillicothe, Ohio.
Stephen Grant’s sister, Kelly Utykanski, of Sterling Heights, and her husband also were seeking temporary custody. Utykanski said she gave police the information to help find her brother in northern Michigan.
“I’m not here to give my brother a big hug,” she said. “I want him to get his punishment. I just want to make sure he has his (legal) representation and that I’m allowed to visit him.”
Suspect 'nervous' ahead of search
Grant told investigators after his arrest that he initially put his wife’s torso in the park but retrieved it before police searched there Feb. 24, according to Hackel. He was “nervous” after learning of the impending search, the sheriff said.
Smith said a neighbor found a plastic bag containing latex gloves, metal shavings and human blood in the woods near the Grants’ house. The discovery enabled police to obtain a warrant to search the home and a tool-and-die shop where Grant worked. Smith said the body was dismembered at the shop.
Grant, who had insisted he was innocent, fled in a friend’s pickup truck after police obtained the search warrant Friday. Officers traced calls from his cell phone to Wilderness State Park about 225 miles north on Lake Michigan, where he was found early Sunday hiding under a fallen tree, wearing only a shirt, socks and pants in 14-degree weather.