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Mrs. Rose Marie Grandanette, a 33-year-old mother of three children, was shot in the head with a .38 caliber pistol on Sunday evening, September 14, 1958, after answering the door of her Windsor Heights home outside Des Moines.
Rose’s 36-year-old husband, Bernard “Bernie” Grandanette, told police the shot was fired by one of three gunmen who accosted him as he returned home from work.
Bernard Grandanette — who co-owned the Town and Country Market in Des Moines with his brother, Ross — told police he’d worked late that night and that after pulling into his home’s driveway, he saw three men outside his car.
The men allegedly got into the vehicle from the passenger side and demanded Grandanette give them his money. When Grandanette told them he had no money on him, he said the men ordered him inside the home.
Grandanette said he rang the doorbell to alert his wife, and that once she opened the door and saw the men with guns, she tried to run back into the house and was shot by one of the robbers.
Grandanette said the men then panicked and fled to a vehicle where a fourth man waited.
Grandanette said he couldn’t provide physical descriptions for any of the men because they’d all held handkerchiefs to their faces.
Once they’d gone, Grandanette later told officials, he’d gone inside the home and called Windsor Heights police and then his brother, Ross.
The two responding officers — Windsor Heights Police Chief Vern Akey and town fire marshal C.D. Millsap — found Rose Grandanette still alive on the home’s front porch.
Neighbors looked after the Grandanette’s children — Roslynne, Joseph, and Victoria — while Millsap drove Mrs. Grandanette to Methodist Hospital, where she died the following night.
According to investigators, Mrs. Grandanette had been shot while still looking outward from her home’s doorway. She had then fallen forward through the doorway and landed on the home’s porch.
Polk County coroner R. Corwin Johnson said the bullet that killed Rose Grandanette had been fired at close range — approximately one and one-half inches away from the top of Mrs. Grandanette’s head.
The killer would have to have been standing over the top of her when he pulled the trigger.
The “eyewitness account” Bernard Grandanette provided to law enforcement officials — that once his wife opened the door and saw the gunmen, she’d tried to flee back into the home and away from the three men — fully contradicted the crime scene evidence and the coroner’s report.
A coroner’s inquest began September 24, 1958, and in early October detectives asked both Bernard and Ross Grandanette to voluntarily submit to lie detector tests.
Both men refused.
An attorney representing the brothers told authorities the men had been “fully cooperative” throughout the investigation and that no polygraph tests were necessary.
Local and state authorities interviewed more than 500 individuals throughout the murder investigation, but no charges were ever filed.
Rose Marie (Donato) Grandanette was born in 1925.
Memorial services were held Thursday, September 19, 1958, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church.
Rose was buried in the Grandanette family plot at Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines.
Rose and Bernard’s son Joseph died in February 1977 at age 25 after a fire broke out in the basement of his father and stepmother’s home at 3124 Beaver Avenue.
Bernard Grandanette died February 14, 2006.
If you have any information about Rose Grandanette’s unsolved murder please contact the Windsor Heights Police Department at (515) 277-4453.