On Wednesday, Steven Grich should have been driving home to Fort Mill to see his family, fresh from his first engineering job after graduating from Clemson University.
The family – father, Steve; brother, Shawn; and stepmother, Lynn – would have arranged to get together for dinner. A few laughs, a big meal. Congratulations and backslaps, and a father saying how proud he was of a son who never quit dreaming.
On Wednesday, Steven Grich would have turned 25.
Instead, Steve, Lynn and Shawn readied to go out for dinner on Steve’s birthday without him, because on Dec. 8, 2012, Steven Grich was killed. The Clemson engineering student was beaten and shot to death at his apartment near the campus. A gang of criminals in masks tore through the apartment in what investigators say was an attempt to rob a roommate of drugs, money or both.
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Steven Grich, just a roommate who wanted to be an engineer, just a young man home at night minding his own business, was killed in the mayhem when the criminals burst in through the back door.
So on Tuesday, the day before his son would have turned 25, Steve Grich was in a courtroom in Pickens County, near Clemson, where three of the four men who had been charged with murder accepted plea deals. Brothers Jordan and Jaron Dalton, along with Bernard Ramsey, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, burglary and weapon possession during a violent crime.
In exchange for their testimony against alleged triggerman Lester Mosley Jr., prosecutors dropped murder charges against all three. Sentencing was deferred until after Mosley’s trial.
“I feel relieved those boys are going to cooperate,” Steve Grich said Wednesday. “They have admitted their parts in Steven’s death.”
By Wednesday, Steve Grich was back home in Fort Mill sitting on a couch draped with a blanket that has an image of his dead son on it. It sits near the urn that holds his son’s ashes.
Grich is trying to get through what no father should have to get through – the violent death of a son.
The family still has more of the awful nightmare to endure. Mosley, 19, whom police say killed Steven Grich, is still awaiting a trial.
Grich can hardly say the name of the defendant who is left. He just says “Mosley,” and that is enough.
Grich, 50, has had his fill of death.
Just six days after Steven Grich was killed, a maniac named Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
One of the dead kids, 6-year-old Jesse McCord Lewis, was the son of Neil Heslin – a guy Steve Grich grew up with, went to school with. Grich went to Washington last year when his friend was talking to the media, to Congress, about what guns can do when in the wrong hands.
Grich is not against all guns, but he knows what those guns do, too. Guns used by criminals kill sons.
“We would ask everyone to keep Steven in their thoughts and their prayers,” Grich said. “Keep thinking about him, until justice is served for my son.”
Lynn Grich sat next to her husband on that little vestibule sofa and talked about how proud Steven was of getting into Clemson to study engineering. His father said Steven worked so hard to get to where he did – the cusp of a life in engineering.
A bullet and a beating ended those dreams.
Shawn Grich came home from classes at USC-Lancaster Wednesday afternoon. He lives home and drives to school each day. His parents gulp when he leaves each morning, and they breathe again when he comes home.
He came home Wednesday, and the breathing returned. Then the family, minus one, prepared to have a birthday dinner for a son and brother who could not be there because a gang of criminals killed him.