Police release new composite in Grossi murder caseJan. 26 marks fifth-year anniversary of investigation
Rehoboth Beach — Delaware State Police have released a composite drawing of a second suspect wanted in conjunction with the Jan. 26, 2007 murder of Paula F. Grossi of Rehoboth Beach. The other suspect's composite drawing was released not long after the brutal crime in the Stable Farm development just outside of Rehoboth Beach.
Cpl. Jeffery Hale, police spokesman, said the case is still being investigated. “We are hoping to get information from the public to give the family closure,” he said during a Jan. 18 press conference at the Delaware State Police Museum in Dover.
The new sketch is from a witness who was not previously available, said Det. Roger Cresto, the state police homicide unit investigator in charge of the Grossi case. “Over a period of time we were able to obtain it,” he said, adding new information came to light within the past few months.
Police said two suspects entered Grossi's home around 1 p.m. while one of her relatives - reported to be her son Rocco - and his girlfriend were asleep in a second-floor bedroom. The two told police the suspects confronted them in the bedroom, tying up their hands and feet. The suspects then ransacked the home before leaving, police said. Police would not say what was taken from the home.
Police said the relative and friend were able to free themselves in about 10 minutes, find Grossi's body on the first floor near the doorway and call police.
Police are asking anyone with information or anyone who may recognize the suspects to contact Det. Roger Cresto at 302-741-2732 or by texting DSP plus a message to 274637 or by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 800-TIP-3333. Callers can also provide information via the internet at tipsubmit.com.
Even five years later, police are still not saying what type of weapon was used in the murder. In addition, Capt. Ralph Davis said police are still unclear what the motive is behind the crime. “We are willing to follow up on any motive theory,” Davis said.
Police also have no description of a vehicle used by the two suspects. As previously reported, it was not a home invasion; there was no evidence of forced entry, said Lt. Robert Hudson, a former member of the homicide unit.
Hudson said the original sketch may have narrowed down the investigation because people may not have come forward because they hadn't seen the person in the sketch with a tear-drop tattoo. “We want to wipe the slate clean,” he said.
“Someone saw a car or saw someone leave the house; someone knows who pulled the trigger,” Hudson said.
Davis would not say if the two people in Grossi's house were checked for gun residue. “In general, in any investigation we conduct where a gun is believed to be involved we check individuals for gun-shot residue, but don't infer we did that in this case,” Davis said. When pressed by reporters for more specifics, he responded: “I will not say we did this because of the ongoing investigation.”
Police looking for new leads
Cresto, who was assigned to the case in early 2010, said police are in the process of reinterviewing about two dozen people.
“We are trying to get new leads to make an arrest; that's why we are putting this forward five years later.” he said. “We want people to come forward with information.
Davis said police forensics have seen advances in technology and science over the past five years, especially when it comes to DNA and fingerprint evidence. He said police are taking the old evidence and applying advanced technological analysis to it. “But a lot of it's investigation 101 with us reinterviewing people,” he said. “We want to develop new leads and follow up on old ones.”
Davis said although the Grossi case falls with the definition of a cold case because the original detective is no longer on the case, the homicide unit is not treating it as a cold case. Davis said state police have more than a 90 percent clearance rate on homicides with 72 cold cases dating back to the 1930s and 1940s, including 14 in Sussex County. The state police homicide unit was formed in 1989.
Davis said he has been in contact with Paula Grossi's father, Fran, who lives in the Rehoboth Beach area. He said the two meet once a month when he provides updates about the investigation and answers any questions the family might have.
He said he is aware Grossi may have hired a private investigator but said he is not aware of any information supplied by a private investigator that has turned into a lead.
“It's important for the family to know that we care about this case,” Hale said.
CAPE REGION COLD CASES
Aurelio “Reds” Maestri, March 17, 1989: At the top of the list is the mysterious murder of 77-year-old Lewes resident “Reds” Maestri, who was found beaten and burned in his tiny home along Savannah Road across from the current Food Lion. Officials determined his home was intentionally set on fire and that Maestri died from a broken neck and also had several broken ribs and contusions to the face and head area. Police said he was kicked and hit with a hammer and was dead before the fire started. Reds was well known in the Cape Region for his support of Cape Henlopen School District athletics. It was not uncommon for him to ride his bike, walk or hitchhike to games all over the county. At the time, police said they suspected robbery as a possible motive for the brutal crime.
Robyn Cisco, March 29, 2007: Family members reported finding Cisco, 50, in her Kendale Road, Lewes bedroom around 7 p.m. They performed CPR, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. Although nothing suspicious was noted, medical examiners ruled the death a homicide because there was no other explanation, police said.
Eleanor R. Taylor, Dec. 11, 1975: Taylor's death is among the most macabre on the police cold case list. With no known ties to Delaware, the skeletal remains of the 44-year-old were found in a large box in beach grass south of Dewey Beach. The investigation revealed she died of strangulation and could have been at the location for as long as six months. Police said she may have been killed in New Jersey and transported via the Cape May-Lewes Ferry to this area. Her brother in Philadelphia reported her missing in June 1975.
Uland T. Davidson, Dec. 14, 1974: Police said there is no doubt robbery was the motive in the mysterious murder of Davidson, 80, of Broadkill Beach. Family members said he kept large sums of cash in his home. Davidson was murdered at close range with a shotgun blast to the face.