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Teen charged with beating his parents to death

Image: John Granat
John Granat, 17, of Palos Park, Ill., was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of his parents.Cook County Sheriff's Dept via AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Blood splattered the walls, ceiling and floor in the bedroom where a suburban Chicago couple were found dead after their son called 911. The teen told police he'd been home asleep all night, heard nothing during the brutal beating and awoke to the gruesome scene.

But that story quickly unraveled, investigators said, when they determined that 17-year-old John Granat had been pulled over by police just hours before making the emergency call and none of his friends could vouch for his whereabouts.

Granat was ordered held without bond Tuesday on first-degree murder charges in the deaths of his parents, John Granat, 44, and Maria Granat, 42. The husband and wife were found fatally beaten in their Palos Park home early Sunday.

The high school senior gave "several alibis ... none of which made any sense, none of which turned out to be true," Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said after Tuesday's court hearing. He said couple had a strained relationship with their only child, who "had made threats to kill them" in the past.

Granat's lawyer denied those claims and, noting the teen's slight form, said his client couldn't have committed such a crime.

"There's no way that that young man could have done that to two human beings," defense attorney Rick Beuke said.

When police arrived, they found the teen's father on the bedroom floor severely beaten with a fractured jaw and lacerations on his skull and liver. Maria Granat was found on the bed soaked in a large pool of blood with a fractured skull and several stab wounds into her stomach, liver and lung.

The couple appeared to have been hit with such force that blood hit the surrounding walls, though the rest of house was spotless, Dart said.

"It was almost as if you'd entered another world," he said.

Granat told investigators he got home about 8 p.m. Saturday and went to bed about midnight, choosing to sleep in the basement to seek relief from the heat, Assistant State's Attorney Peter Troy said during the hearing.

The teen said that when he woke up, he went to his parents' bedroom and called 911 just after 7 a.m. In a recording of that call, Granat can be heard telling the emergency dispatcher that his parents "were drowning in their own blood" and that the house had been ransacked.

But investigators quickly determined that Granat had been stopped earlier that morning for driving with a broken tail light: A police officer responding to the 911 call recognized Granat as the person he'd pulled over two hours earlier.

When confronted with that information, the teen changed his story several times, prosecutors said.

Dart said the teen provided the names of several friends whom he said he was with the previous night, though none of them said they were with Granat when questioned by police. When told about the denials, Granat said he had allowed some friends into the house to commit a crime, Dart said.

The sheriff also said the house strongly smelled of ammonia or bleach, suggesting that someone cleaned the crime scene. When Granat for pulled over early Sunday for the broken tail light, the officer noticed a bottle in the front seat, which Granat explained was a bottle of swimming pool chlorine, said Palos Heights' deputy police chief, Bill Czarkoswski.

Dart said investigators were still trying to determine where Granat was driving when pulled over. Authorities have conducted several searches but haven't found a possible murder weapon. The medical examiner's office determined the couple was bludgeon with a 1-inch diameter object.

There were no signs of forced entry to the home and the father's wallet — containing $1,800 — was on the kitchen counter, Dart said, adding that the teen had $4,000 in cash when police arrived.

The family came to the U.S. from Poland about a decade ago and the father was a successful contractor who managed several properties, Dart said. Granat worked for his father doing landscaping and other chores.

"(The father) was looking forward to try to involve his son in the family business," Dart said.

Beuke, the teen's defense attorney, promised he would go to trial in the case and not agree to a plea deal. There were at least a dozen relatives at Tuesday's court hearing, and Beuke said they wouldn't have come had they thought Granat was guilty.

Dart said Granat was "devoid of emotion at all," but Beuke said teen had been crying for two days.