South Carolina

October 21, 2013

SC woman killed by stepson was told by friend to kick him out

For weeks, months, years, the employer and best friend of Sandra Grose told her she needed to kick her stepson, hulking and lazy Joshua Grose, out of her Rock Hill home.

The urging increased after the 2009 death of Grose’s husband, Kenneth Earl, and after Joshua Grose’s recent seven-month stretch in prison for drunk driving and failure to stop for police after a drunken binge. The most recent jailing for Josh Grose came after stints in prison for selling dope and repeated brushes with the law for driving offenses, assault, rages against neighbors and more.

Joshua Grose couldn’t hold a job and “sponged off his mother,” said the employer and best friend, Randy Cornell. Joshua Grose, nicknamed “Spenser,” even charged his own mother $20 to move a washing machine, despite living in her home rent-free as an adult into his 30s.

She never did kick out Joshua Grose, despite his jail terms and drug and alcohol problems and laziness. On Friday, upset about having to deal with her stepson within minutes at home, 65-year-old Sandy Grose left her job at the martial arts studio where she was an instructor.

Minutes later, her stepson ran her over with a stolen vehicle. She died from a crushed chest, in the gravel and dirt outside her home.

Sandy Grose died just minutes after Joshua Grose had stolen the vehicle from a neighbor and killed her too.

One death was not enough for Joshua Grose. He had to kill the woman who raised him from a toddler.

“I told her, several times, that he needed to get out of her house and get on with his own life as an adult,” said Randy Cornell, who employed Sandra Grose at his martial arts studio for almost two decades. “He was 34 years old for crying out loud.”

Friday, at the American Martial Arts Institute, Sandra “Sandy” Grose seemed preoccupied, and “under a good bit of stress,” as she finished putting information into a computer about students, Cornell said. She left at 5:30 p.m., and less than an hour later, Cornell received a phone call that police were surrounding her home on Mount Gallant Road.

Joshua Grose was charged with killing both his stepmother and that neighbor, Sandy Drawdy Thomas. Police say Joshua Grose ran over both using the SUV Grose stole from Thomas. He also ran over his mother’s brother-in-law, Carlton Sisk, who lived in the Grose home and remains in a hospital recuperating from injuries.

After police showed up and found both women dead, Joshua Grose answered the door, buck naked, after a shower. He belligerently ranted at police throughout his arrest and jailing, until he tried to kill himself.

Joshua Grose died Sunday morning after putting his head into the jail toilet and ramming his head repeatedly into a wall. Randy Cornell said he wishes that Joshua Grose had not acted “like a coward that he was” and faced up to what he did.

“I wanted him to stay in jail for the rest of his life and think about what he had done,” Cornell said. “He should have thought about killing his mother, that other victim, every hour of every day of his life.”

Others at the studio who knew Sandy Grose are appalled by the crimes of her stepson.

“My daughter thought the world of Sandy Grose,” said Diane Parker, whose daughter, Summer, was a martial arts student. “Sandy was so caring and giving to the students.”

So many others who knew both Thomas and Sandy Grose remain shocked at the Friday night carnage. The Grose and Thomas homes are just a couple of hundred yards apart.

Linda Yannotti, a neightbor of Sandy Thomas, was coming home just after 6 p.m. Friday when she saw the first police arrive, and her neighbor lying in her yard.

“It was so scary,” Yannotti said. “Nobody knew then what happened, but we knew it was terrible.”

Sandy Thomas apparently did not know Joshua Grose. She just was confronted by this 6-foot-1-inch, 240-pound ex-con who carjacked the SUV and ran her over.

Many neighbors, Yannotti included, previously had seen Joshua Grose’s strange behavior in the River Pines subdivision northwest of Rock Hill. One time, Joshua Grose approached Yannotti’s daughter and scared her. Other times, Joshua Grose was seen walking down the road dribbling a basketball or howling.

“I was distraught,” Yannoti said. “He could have picked anybody out there. It could have been my son or anyone else Friday. I feel so bad for my neighbor and her family. It is just horrible what happened to her. She would always wave, and smile.”

SandyThomas was a longtime member of the Trojan Club at Northwestern High School. When her son played football for the Trojans, she cooked meals and did a lot more for the team. Della Drawdy, a close relative of Thomas, said Sandy was a “wonderful woman; caring, loving and gentle.”

Thomas always had a smile for others, Drawdy said. Her family is “heartbroken.”

The funeral for Thomas is today: Arrangements have not been set for Sandy Grose, who had no close family in the area. But the staff and students at American Martial Arts will hold a memorial service for her from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct 30. That would have been Sandy Grose’s 66th birthday.

“I thought maybe she was mad at me Friday the last time I saw her - I had asked her if she finished doing what I asked her to do,” Cornell said. “That was the last thing I ever said to her, and she was my best friend for almost 20 years. I wish I had said something different. I never got to talk to her or see her again - because he killed her.”

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