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Rock Hill double-homicide suspect had history of erratic, aggressive behavior

By Jonathan McFadden
jmcfadden@heraldonline.com

ROCK HILL Three years ago, Joshua Matthew Grose stood naked at his front door holding a large knife, police records show. Both of his wrists were cut.

Despite his claims that neighbors broke into his house, held him against a wall and attacked him, authorities determined that Grose cut himself and then tried to clean the blood from his body and kitchen floor.

“Because of his mental condition,” he was never arrested or charged, but was instead taken to Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill for treatment, according to a 2010 York County Sheriff’s report.

That incident was one of several encounters police had with Grose in which he exhibited unusual, aggressive behavior, according to several police documents obtained by The Herald. The encounters range from accusations he ransacked a Rock Hill apartment and chased several people down a breezeway to charges that he dodged a police detective by driving 100 mph on S.C. 5.

Deputies on Friday charged Grose, 34, with two counts of murder after they say he hit Sandra Thomas, 53, with her own vehicle while trying to steal it, and later killed 65-year-old Sandra Grose, his stepmother, in the River Pines subdivision off Mount Gallant Road. Both women died of blunt force trauma to the chest, York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said.

Police also issued warrants charging Grose with larceny and attempted murder after they say he assaulted his uncle, Curtis Alan Sisk, 60. Sisk was found in a red Chevrolet, bloodied and beaten but alert, according to a police report.

Joshua Grose died on Sunday of blunt force trauma to the head after officials say he repeatedly injured himself while at the York County Detention Center. As soon as he arrived there Friday, he became combative, self-destructive and uncooperative with jail guards, police said. He hit his head several times against the jail cell wall, and tried to drown himself in the toilet.

He was placed in a restraint chair, but continued to bang his head against the back of the chair even after officers placed a helmet on him. Jailors noticed cuts at the back of his head and called for medical help at about 1:20 a.m. Sunday. He was not taken to the hospital because the cuts did not require stitches, said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Trent Faris.

Jail officials put Grose on suicide watch, checking him every 15 minutes. About an hour later, he was found unresponsive. Paramedics determined that he went into cardiac arrest. Workers performed CPR while taking Grose to Piedmont Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead in the emergency room at 3:05 a.m.

Twenty officers were on duty at the time of Grose’s death, Faris said. A 2012 state Department of Corrections inspection for the York County jail yielded only one violation showing that it did not meet minimum standards for ‘direct supervision’ because one officer floated between two housing units filled with 90 total inmates.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating Grose’s death. During the probe, investigators will interview staff members who were working at the time and review relevant files, said SLED spokesman Thom Berry. He could not comment further on the investigation.

Grose is the second inmate to kill himself at the York County jail within six weeks. On Aug. 31, William Blinn, a Rock Hill burglary suspect, died 10 hours after he tried to hang himself with bed sheets in his cell. The investigation into Blinn’s death is still pending, Berry said.

Each inmate should be screened for the likelihood of suicide before they are admitted into the detention center, according to the state Department of Correction’s minimal standards for jails and detention centers. A report must be made and kept in the inmate and facility’s records if jail guards note any signs of an inmate’s attempted suicide. The attempted suicide must also be reported to “the responsible medical authority or mental health authority,” which is Piedmont Medical Center for the York County Detention Center.

Jail officials also have to report an inmate’s death to the state within 72 hours of the death.

After releasing preliminary results from Grose’s autopsy on Monday, Coroner Sabrina Gast said there was no way to tell how many times he hit his head. She would not comment on any possible drugs or substances in his system. Those details will have to wait until toxicology tests return, which can take up to six weeks.

Deputies are still piecing together details of Friday’s double homicide, Faris said on Monday.

“The victim’s families still needs answers,” he said.

After they were called to the River Pines subdivision at about 6 p.m. Friday, deputies found Grose standing nude at his back door, appearing as if he had just taken a shower, reports show. Minutes earlier, authorities found Thomas dead on the grass in her Woodside Drive front yard and Sandra Grose dead in her Mount Gallant Road driveway. Joshua Grose was taken into custody, but was not cooperative with police, Faris said. He did not know details of those interviews.

History of charges, convictions

City, county and state court records show that Grose has a lengthy history of misdemeanor and felony charges spanning more than a decade. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to violating Rock Hill’s noise ordinance. Two years later, he lost four points on his license after pleading guilty to speeding. That same year, he was found not guilty of reckless driving, but pleaded guilty to driving without a license, for which he paid an $87 fine. In 2003, he was convicted of driving under the influence and failure to stop for a blue light. He was sentenced to 30 days of public service and had to pay a more than $1,000 fine. He was also placed on five years of probation.

A year later, a confidential informant for York County drug agents purchased marijuana from Grose, who went by the name “Spence,” a Sheriff’s Office report shows. Agents later found pot in his bedroom. He was charged with distribution of marijuana and possession of marijuana. He was placed on five years of probation after he was convicted.

He was found with a knife during a 2005 traffic stop in Myrtle Beach, in which police officers gave him a ticket for driving under suspension, Myrtle Beach police records show.

In 2007, York County deputies charged him with filing a false police report after he claimed someone stole his rental 2006 Ford Taurus, along with $230, his wallet and a debit card. Grose later admitted to police that he was renting the car for someone else and reported it stolen after it had been involved in a traffic accident, according to an arrest warrant. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

In February 2008, Rock Hill Police charged Grose with three counts of simple assault and battery, one count of assault and battery, public disorderly conduct, damage to property and unlawfully carrying a weapon stemming from a dispute at Stones Crossing apartments off Celanese Road, reports show. Police were called to the apartment at about 9:10 p.m. after receiving calls about an intoxicated man causing damage.

An officer spoke with four victims who explained that Grose refused to leave the apartment after he became drunk. While inside, Grose kicked a hole in the wall and broke the bed, police reported. He pulled the blinds off the wall and threw a woman, 19, on a bed several times. Once Grose was called to the back of the apartment complex, three people - two women and a man - managed to flee. Grose chased them, police said, “in a manner that they thought he was going to do bodily harm to them.” Police said he also had a knife.

Police found Grose in the apartment’s breezeway and arrested him. Those charges, Rock Hill municipal court records show, were dismissed by September 2008. It was unclear Monday evening why he was not prosecuted.

In 2011, police encountered Grose again when an off-duty detective saw Grose back his white pickup truck “recklessly” in the road and then spin the tires in a neighborhood off S.C. 5 between Rock Hill and York, records show. Grose then ignored a stop sign and turned left on Hilton Road, where he accelerated, driving between 60-70 mph in a 30 mph zone. The officer followed Grose as he drove onto S.C. 5, weaving in and out of traffic as he accelerated up to 100 mph. Police traced Grose’s tag number to his house.

At the house, authorities spoke with Sandra Grose, who said the truck belonged to her son, the report states. Grose came out of the house, and police arrested him after learning his license had been suspended. His suspension would have ended on July 2010, but he never paid a reinstatement fee. On the way to jail, police said Grose became “erratic,” the report states. He was placed in a restraint chair until he calmed down. He was charged with failure to stop for blue lights, driving under suspension, reckless driving, failure to surrender suspended driver’s license and a habitual traffic offender charge.

In December that year, police charged Grose with driving under the influence after receiving calls about Grose driving recklessly near Cracker Barrel off Galleria Boulevard, police documents show. He failed several field sobriety tests and was taken to jail. His car was given to his uncle.

Grose faced another DUI charge in March 2012 when an anonymous caller told police Grose was dancing on top of his car on North Anderson Road after driving his car into a construction cone, documents show. Police found Grose inside a convenience store reaching into the beer cooler. After he failed field sobriety tests, police found an open bottle of Wild Turkey whiskey, an open bottle of Bacardi rum and an open bottle of Bud Light beer in his car. They also found two sealed bottles of rum and a sealed bottle of bourbon. On the way to jail, Grose refused to give police a breath sample and became “verbally aggressive,” the report states. He was cited for driving under the influence, open container of beer and open container of liquor.

In April 2012, Grose pleaded guilty to failure to stop for a blue light and two driving under the influence charges stemming from the three previous incidents. The city charges for open container of beer and open container of wine were dropped. Five months earlier, a jury found him guilty of reckless driving. He was ordered to pay a $445 fine. His driving under suspension and failure to surrender a suspended driver’s license charges were dropped.

He spent seven months in the state Department of Corrections after serving part of his one-year sentence on the failure to stop for blue lights charge, said Clark Newsom, corrections spokesman. He was released on Nov. 1 last year.

The Herald’s Andrew Dys and Jie Jenny Zou contributed to this report

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082
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