Rose Grandanette (Courtesy Des Moines Register)

Rose Grandanette (Courtesy Des Moines Register)

Rose Marie Grandanette

Homicide

Rose Marie Grandanette
33 YOA
Sunrise Blvd. and 73rd St.
Windsor Heights, IA
Polk County
September 14, 1958

 

Case Summary compiled by Jody Ewing

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.

Polk County in Iowa
Polk County in Iowa
windsor-heights-iaWindsor Heights in Polk County

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.

Mr. Grandanette’s eyewitness account contradicts physical evidence

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.

Bernard-Grandanette Courtesy photo AP/Cedar Rapids Gazette
Bernard Grandanette and his brother-in-law, Mike Chiodo, at the Coroner’s Inquest.

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.

Courtesy Katie Lou, findagrave.com

Courtesy Katie Lou, findagrave.com

Local and state authorities interviewed more than 500 individuals throughout the murder investigation, but no charges were ever filed.

About Rose Grandanette

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-grandanette-gravestone-600pxCourtesy photo Katie Lou, findagrave.com
Rose Marie Grandanette is buried at the 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.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Rose Grandanette’s unsolved murder please contact the Windsor Heights Police Department at (515) 277-4453.

Sources:

 

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14 Responses to Rose Grandanette

  1. Lyn Foshe says:

    I remember this murder because my father was friends with the Grandanette’s. My father had a pretty “sketchy” reputation in Des Moines at that time and was known as Big Opie. He hung around with Babe Bisignano, Johnny Compiano, Sarge Fontanini, Lew Ferrell & Floren DiPaglia, among others. He owned a restaurant on the east side. I do recall, even though I was only about 12, my father and his friends, talking and laughing about how Ross and Bernie got away with this murder. My brother was at least 19 at the time and I will ask him what he recalls about this.

    I’m sure this isn’t anything helpful because the police probably already suspected this, but my father, along with some of these other men, were puported to have “Mafia” ties in Las Vegas, where I know they went a lot. I just listened to someone speak in Ames on the Chavis murder, which brought up a lot of memories from the past.

    I know my father was also an aquaintance of Ramona Cox. I know I have nothing of any substance to offer about either of these murders, but thought I would share these details just because murders fascinate me.

    I will also remember to ask my brother, who is a Dr. in North Carolina, what he might remember of the talk surrounding my father and friends regarding these people and their murders.

    Thanks

  2. Lyn Foshe says:

    Regarding my recent post. You can contact me via email with any comments. I forgot to click on the box.

  3. mike maertz says:

    I grew up with Jo Jo he stayed at my house that night and the next. Rose and my birthday were the same,

  4. Roni says:

    Hi!
    Did your dad have the place on E Grand, just down from Tasty Tacos and his sign on the top front of the building said “Opie Ain’t Mad at Nobody”??? This just came up today on the Lost Des Moines site on FB and my grandmom (who raised me) used to take me there. Either that or I’m just getting old and imagined it. There was a sewing machine store across the street.
    Thanks a million,
    Roni Price

  5. Don says:

    “Opie ain’t mad at nobody “,was a small pizza joint just one block east of 19th st .on Carpenter ,on the near west side ,east of where the Katz Drug Store was ,prior to Family Services . May have been another place called the same, but this one was located there in the late 1950’s .Was near “Doc’s BQ” . Don’t make them like those days any more . You could walk that entire area at night ,without any fear at all .

  6. Jerry Coash, Sr. says:

    Anybody know anything about Joe Grandinette’s death by fire? Joe and I were very close at Dowling, class of ’69, hung around some at U of I for a while, and then I lost track of him after I got married.

    I loved Joe. He was always friends with the guys that didn’t quite fit in along with being friends with the jocks and popular guys.

  7. Sounds like this one has some things that don’t add up. Couldn’t new technology truly show the angle of the shot and if the husbands story is or isn’t substantiated? Not that he did it, but may have known who if he gave wrong info about how and who he thinks shot her.

  8. So many murders in Iowa? So many everywhere?

  9. Sean Kirby says:

    Once again, it’s so clearly the husband

  10. Robert E. Kotlarek says:

    Newspaper reports say the husband was stuck in the head by one of the “robbers”. If you are going to strike someone in the head with a gun, I think it’s safe to assume that you are trying to knock them out. And guns are hard (citation needed). I would think if someone struck you with a gun (with the intent of knocking you out) there would be evidence of blunt force trauma; a gash, and at the VERY least a large lump and bruising. There was no mention if the husband had any evidence of BFT to the head, or signs of a concussion.

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