WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Tara Grant was a loving mother, a successful businesswoman and the victim of a crime carried out by her own husband.
It's been 10 years since Grant's death, and Local 4 took a look back at the disturbing case that captured Metro Detroit's attention.
Grant's family said they recognized warning signs in their daughter's marriage, but Stephen Grant made his move before she could be saved. They hope others who are in potentially dangerous situations can get the help they need.
Grant appeared to have it all. She was the mother of two children, had a successful career and was married to Stephen Grant. What many people didn't know was that Grant was living a nightmare at home, being verbally abused and manipulated by her husband.
Stephen Grant reported his wife missing Feb. 14, 2007. Weeks later, during a police search of the Grants' home, Tara Grant's torso was found inside the family's Washington Township garage (garage pictured below).
At the time, Tara Grant's sister heard disturbing details.
"I was horrified," her sister, Alicia, said. "I think I let out a scream. I could not believe what they were telling me."
Stephen Grant was convicted of second-degree murder. The Grants' children moved to Ohio to live with Alicia and her family, and both are thriving despite their past.
The children are involved in "Tara's Walk," a yearly event in Macomb County that raises money for domestic abuse programs. This year, the walk will be held Sept. 30.
"They decided to use that grief to channel the intensity of those feelings into awareness about domestic violence," said Sue Coats, the CEO of Turning Point. "I think that it's just exemplary that her children are involved in domestic violence-prevention, as well as Alicia."
Turning Point is an agency that helps victims of domestic abuse. It has a 24-hour hotline for people who need help. Victims can call 586-463-6990.
The Grant case is a textbook example of how an attacker works to gain control, first playing the victim, as Stephen Grant did publicly.
"She at the time was having a relationship with another man," Stephen Grant said at the time. "It was mostly on the phone."
Then, he later faked concern to gain sympathy from others.
"If Tara is out there, what would you say to her?" Local 4 consumer expert Hank Winchester asked Stephen Grant at the time.
"Call the Sheriff's Office," he said.
Hank covered the case from beginning to end.
"I didn't think we were going to have a happy ending, but I never expected anything like that," Hank said.
As the investigation played out, Stephen Grant called Hank up to 20 times each day. He became obsessed with trying to control the media message.
"He was asking questions about, 'How did I look on TV? Is it going to be strange if I get my hair cut? Is it OK if I go shopping?'" Hank said.
What few people know is that things took a disturbing twist just hours before Tara Grant's torso was discovered. Stephen Grant was desperate to get Hank to his home, and asked to be interviewed in his garage.
"As we were pulling up, we received some information that police were going to begin searching the home," Hank said. "Stephen had been removed from the house, and within a short time, we had learned that portions of Tara's body were found in the garage. In talking with psychologists and therapists afterwards, it seems like Stephen's idea or motive there was to get somebody as close to the crime scene (as possible) without revealing what he had done."
FROM 2012: Tara Grant's murder 5 years later
Stephen Grant is locked up in Ionia. He sent a never-before-seen letter to Hank five years ago. He's still watching the local news in prison, but he has no power, no control and nobody to manipulate. Instead, the story he worked to control ended up being an important lesson for others.
"Abusers rob the person of their power and their control of their life, and their first tactic is to isolate," Coats said. "Counteracting that isolation is really paramount."
"It's important for family members of friends, when they notice an issue, to be vocal about it to prevent something like this from happening," Hank said.
A federal appeals court ruled against Stephen Grant in May when he claimed his constitutional rights were violated when investigators got incriminating statements from him after he was captured in northern Michigan in 2007.