The Murder of Tara Lynn Grant
Tara Lynn Grant was born and raised in rural Michigan but found her home in suburban Detroit after college. She married her husband, Stephen Grant, despite the two being opposites. Tara was beautiful, ambitious, popular, smart, and a perfectionist. Stephen was only of average attractiveness and never quite completed his college studies. He found work in his father’s machine shop while Tara began a highly successfully and lucrative career at Washington Group International. The two had two children, a girl and boy, which led to a stay-at-home Dad career path for Stephen while Tara was the breadwinner of the family.
Tara’s career was very important to her, but so were her children. She frequently was gone on business during the entire week, but home on the weekends with her family. Before leaving on business trips, she would often leave notes for her children to remind them how loved they were. Tara and Stephen also hired an Au Pair through an agency that assigns foreign young women to work as live-in nannies in American homes. In 2007, the Au Pair living with the Grant family was a German women named Verena.
Stephen Grant few resentful of his wife’s career and constant traveling. They argued often about how much time Tara spent away from home. Stephen once said “I was a better mom than Tara was. There’s no other way to put it. I was the mom of the house-- she was gone all the time. If the kids needed someone to take them to swimming, or school, or soccer practice, I took them” (Hunter, 2007). Stephen Grant may have felt emasculated by his wife’s success and his domestic role. He sought attention from other women to build his ego.
On the night of Friday February 9th, 2007, Tara returned home from Puerto Rico, where she had been working during the week. Upon returning to her Macomb County home, she and Stephen had a fight. Tara was supposed to return to Puerto Rico on Sunday due to an early morning business meeting on Monday. Stephen was enraged as he felt Tara failed to spend enough time with her family. According to Stephen, the two had a terrible fight and Tara left the home that same night. Stephen told police that his wife was on the phone with someone who picked her up in a dark vehicle.
By Valentine’s Day, February 14th, Tara failed to return to work or return to her home. Her husband reported her missing. Stephen told authorities he had tried to call his wife several times, leaving multiple messages. Her family was unaware of her whereabouts, and she also failed to show up for work. These things were very unlike Tara, and Stephen was understandably concerned. The missing persons case was started by the Macomb County Sherriff’s office.
Over the next two weeks, Stephen Grant took to the media several times in a series of press conferences. He was able to bring a great deal of attention to Tara’s case this way. However, authorities had a different impression of Stephen Grant. “When we first got to the house, Stephen’s very nervous, he was very fidgety, he was trying to be over-cooperative and the more questions we started asking him, the more nervous he became” Detective Pam McClean told True Crime Daily (True Crime Daily, 2017).
The detectives also became suspicious of the Au Pair, Verena. They were able to determine that Stephen and Verena started a sexual relationship about four to six weeks prior to Tara’s disappearance. However, Verena was out with friends the night Tara disappeared. They also found some suggestive emails Stephen had sent to one of his ex-girlfriends. Being resentful of your wife and cheating on your wife, however, is not evidence of any foul play.
Initially, the police found no evidence in the Grant home to suggest a struggle, foul play, or any sign of Tara. However, Stephen stopped cooperating with police although he continued his daily press conferences for the media. The police checked hospitals, morgues, airports, etc. for any indication of Tara’s whereabouts. They continued to grow more and more suspicious of Stephen Grant. They searched a wooded area behind the Grant home, but again came up empty.
As February turned to March, the first major break came in the case. Someone had found a bag in the park near the Grant home, the same wooded area previously searched by police. The bag contained blood and metal shavings. Stephen Grant worked at a machine shop owned by his father part time. This was enough evidence to secure a search warrant of the Grant house and the machine shop.
On March 2nd, 2007, police executed the search warrant on Grant’s Washington Township home. Stephen was present but asked if he could take the family dog for a walk. He was not under arrest, so he was permitted to leave with the dog. Meanwhile, police found a tote in the family garage they had not seen during the first search. Opening the tote, they found a plastic bag. They tore open the plastic bag as blood seeped from its contents. Inside the bag was the fully clothed torso of a woman. Police had found Tara Grant.
At the machine shop, investigators found a plethora of forensic evidence including hair, blood, and even pieces of Tara’s flesh. What they couldn’t find, however, was Stephen Grant. Stephen had fled when he learned police were executing the search warrant. Two days later, police were able to track Stephen through cell phone tracking. He was found in the remote Wilderness State Park, hypothermic and clinging to life.
Stephen was airlifted to a Michigan hospital for treatment. He was found to not only be severely hypothermic with very little warm clothing despite the freezing temperatures, but he had ingested large amounts of alcohol and prescription pills as well. He later told authorities he planned to commit suicide in the wilderness. Stephen eventually recovered and gave a chilling confession.
Stephen’s confession began with the details of February 9th, 2007. Tara returned home from Puerto Rico but informed him she had to leave again on Sunday. Stephen admits he was upset and the two began to argue. Stephen says he suspected Tara was having an affair with a co-worker and they also argued about that. Stephen claims Tara slapped him at one point, and that is when things escalated. He admits he hit her back.
“She fell” Stephen told detectives in his confession, “I know that she banged her head on the floor, and then she said something like ‘That’s it. I’m gonna take the kids. You’re going to be fucking homeless. You’re a piece of shit’” (True Crime Daily, 2017). Stephen says at that point he snapped, strangling his wife for approximately four minutes. “I choked her. I put my hands on her neck and choked her. She finally grabbed my hand at one point, but it was too late then. I couldn’t stop then. I knew I was going to prison. I panicked” Stephen said. (True Crime Daily, 2017).
Stephen then wrapped his belt around Tara’s neck, using it to pull her down the stairs as his children slept in their bedrooms. He put her in the back of his SUV. Much to his surprise, Verena, the Au Pair, returned home. He told her the sob story of his wife leaving him after an argument. Verena had nothing to do with the murder. He begins his cover up, calling Tara’s phone several times and leaving messages. He also continued to share his bed with Verena.
The next day, he slips out of the house and takes Tara’s body to his father’s machine shop where he dismembers her. He puts her body, piece by piece, in a plastic tub and borrows his children’s sled. He goes to the wooded area behind his house, but then something unexpected happened. “The sled took off and now I’m chasing after the sled that has my wife’s cut-up body on it down a hill. I finally got it stopped when it fell over and it broke. So now all these pieces have fallen all over the place” Grant told detectives in his confession (True Crime Daily, 2017).
Stephen gathered the body parts and buried them in various locations in the woods. He told detectives he hoped wildlife would find the body before anyone else did. He moved parts of her multiple times to avoid detection. When he learned police were planning to search the area, he took the torso back to his garage as he feared police would find it. “I did a very, very bad job of hiding anything. It’s right there in the open” Grant told detectives (True Crime Daily, 2017). He did not expect them to secure a search warrant for his home.
Once police executed the search warrant, Stephen knew they would find Tara’s torso in the garage. He took the opportunity to flee. He drove around Michigan drinking and popping pills before going to the remote Wilderness State Park. Stephen said he planned to die in the wilderness, which is why he failed to wear protective clothing. Fortunately, he was rescued in time to be held accountable for Tara’s murder.
On Friday December 21st, 2007, Stephen Grant was found guilty of murder in the second degree. The prosecution sought first degree murder charges, but after three weeks of testimony, the jury could not come to a unanimous decision concerning premeditation of the crime. The judge in the case called Stephen Grant’s actions “demonic, barbaric, and dishonest” (CNN, 2008). Stephen Grant was sentenced to 50-80 years in prison for the 2nd degree murder charge with an additional 6-10 years for mutilation of the corpse with sentences to run concurrently.
The Grant Children, just six and four years old when their mother was murdered, were raised by Tara’s sister. In June of 2008, Stephen Grant’s father committed suicide. Neighbors speculate that he was unable to overcome the shame and destruction the murder caused his family. The family and friends of Tara Grant now organize and participate in Tara’s Run, a 5K that raises money to combat domestic violence.
Stephen Grant was a jealous man who could not tolerate his wife’s success. His own insecurities led him to take advantage of a nineteen-year-old Au Pair living in a foreign country and break his marital vows. This jealously and insecurity also led him to murder Tara and dismember her body. Stephen Grant’s actions show he thought primarily of himself—not Tara or his children. Stephen Grant, just thirty-seven at the time of Tara’s murder, will not be eligible for parole until he is eighty-seven.
Czarnick, E. (2019) Tara’s walk continues path to help women escape violence; C&G Newspapers; Retrieved at: Tara’s Walk continues path to help women escape violence (candgnews.com)
True Crime Daily (2017) Stay-at-home dad murders business executive wife, dismembers and disperses body parts; True Crime Daily; Retrieved at: Stay-at-home dad murders business executive wife, dismembers and disperses body parts | Truecrimedaily.com
CBS News (2007) Cops: Husband admits to “horrific” murder; CBS News; Retireved at: Cops: Husband Admits To "Horrific" Murder - CBS News
CNN (2008) Man gets 50 years for killing, cutting up wife; CNN.com; Retrieved from Murderpedia at: Stephen Grant | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers
Hunter (2007) Stephen Grant: ‘I was the perfect mom—not Tara”; The Detroit News; Retireved from Murderpeida at: Stephen Grant | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers
Murderpedia (2021) Stephen GRANT; Retrieved at: Stephen Grant | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers
Wikipedia (2021) Murder of Tara Lynn Grant; Retrieved at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Tara_Lynn_Grant
Miller, S. & Billups, A. (2009) A Slaying in the Suburbs: The Tara Grant Murder; Berkley Books, New York