Rose Grandanette (Courtesy Des Moines Register)

Rose Grandanette (Courtesy Des Moines Register)

Rose Marie Grandanette


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 in Polk CountyWindsor 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,

Courtesy Katie Lou,

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,
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.



Copyright © 2024  Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

20 Responses to Rose Grandanette

  1. Shane says:

    A lot of these accusations about Babe and 1 or 2 others our stories that aren’t all true.

    👉 Remember this: Once you get caught the big lie you gotta wiggle your way out of the corner your in and kiss ass. They are phony kiss ass ppl, and whenever they get caught in the big lie, they’ll try wiggling there way out kissing ass. Do not let them do that!

    👉 That is true about babe always having a bodyguard but i don’t think he himself was a mobster. He may of had friends who were but i don’t think he ever joined any mafia family. He was a bootlegger at one time way back in the 30’s but who wasn’t. Most everyone was poor back in them days. Once again, a lot of these rumors about babe are stories, right?

    Think For Yourself

  2. Tom says:

    The Boy Scouts could have closed this one. Obviously the husband.

  3. 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.

  4. Sean Kirby says:

    Once again, it’s so clearly the husband

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 .

  9. Roni says:

    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

  10. 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,

  11. Lyn Foshe says:

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

    • Shane says:

      To Lyn Foshe-> Do you by chance remember Babes good friend Ray who introduced Babe to my Pop’s Alan Lee who was President of the largest UFCW local in Iowa
      and Illinois and President of the Quad-City Federation (AFL-CIO) and then
      Elected Vice President of the 3rd largest UFCW international Union serving
      as Director of it’s Retail Division and a trustee of the UFCW international
      Pension Fund,

      In1983 was Elected Executive Vice President and served as
      Director of collective bargaining and Appointed Assistant to the international
      President which was Bill Wynn until he retired in 1991 – My Pops told me about
      how he met Babe through Ray who worked with my Pops and was a good friend
      of Babe and my Pops. Babe’s Bodyguard followed my Pop’s around when he was
      with Ray and then handed him his Gun to check out who this guy was who was
      following him. It ended up being Babes Bodyguard just seeing if they were alright.
      Ray told my Pops that it was all good and that it was just Babes Bodyguard. Babe
      always had a Bodyguard and that was the way Babe was. This was around 1963
      when he hired Louis K. Risken to sign up his members for Lou’s health and welfare
      benefits plan, a self insurance program that replaced Central States health plan.
      They all signed up for it and my Pops ended up making Lou Risken 1.2 million
      dollars and my Pops didn’t make shit. He screwed him and Lou ended up moving back to Des Moines from Illinois working for the President of the Teamsters local 147 and tried hiring a “hit man” to assassinate the President of the largest teamsters Union in Iowa to stop him before testifying before a federal grand jury.

      Lou was afraid that he would implicate crimes on him. The guy he tried to hire was an FBI Informant (Rat!) who secretly recorded him twice and he ended up getting 20 yrs but they let him out early in Arizona where he did his time at cause he was dying. Anyway, if you remember Ray, Alan Lee, Bill Wynn, Jerry Zillion, Sam Talarico, Leo Cinaglia, Louie DeFrieze, joe Talarico, Jerry Messer and any of the other big boys out of Chicago, Des Moines and Washington D.C. then write me or better yet email me
      Ray died not long after Babe died and me, my Pops went to his funeral. Talk Soon

      Sincerely Shane

      • Shane says:

        Sorry for the mistake above. Alan Lee is on the opposite side of the spectrum. All good guys who cared very much about there members
        especially Alan Lee.

  12. 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.


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