Gerald Holmes Murder: What Happened to Lori Grotto?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘American Detective With Lt. Joe Kenda: One Drop’ follows the bizarre and gruesome murder of Gerald Holmes in Alpena, Michigan, in April 2008. With one steep challenge after another, it took a brave minor girl to come forward, which ultimately helped the detectives solve the homicide. If you’re interested in knowing more about the case, including the identity and current whereabouts of the perpetrator, we’ve your back. Let’s begin then, shall we?

How Did Gerald Holmes Die?

Gerald R. “Jerry” Holmes of Alpena, Michigan, was a “big guy” who liked fishing, hunting, and other outdoor adventures. His second oldest daughter, Erika Holmes, was nine or ten years old when he and her mother divorced. She described him as “a nice individual.” His sister, Julie Caolliflower, recounted, “He loved being a dad. He was willing to help anybody. He loved to tell stories. He was a people person.” According to the show, Jerry had a difficult life, with him being involved in a severe industrial accident as a teenager.

The episode described how a furnace fell on Jerry while working at a factory, pinning him to the ground. He suffered horrific injuries to the bottom half of his body. While the doctors tried everything to save his limbs, they had to amputate one of his legs. According to Julie, her brother fought the “demons of the pain,” changing him forever. Erike recounted how he turned to drugs and alcohol and had to frequent Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) while her mother went to Al-Anon meetings.

Erika stated how the family always worked toward “Jerry’s sobriety,” but the substance abuse eventually led to his divorce from his first wife. Julie recounted, ” After his divorce, he was having issues with his addiction. He got into a car accident and was court-ordered to a treatment facility in Alpena, Michigan, where he met his second wife, Lori.” The couple was married in the late 1990s, and Jerry remained sober for a long time. When it finally seemed to be turning alright, his friends and family were in for a shock.

On April 6, 2008, the officers of the Alpena Police Department discovered a torso floating in the Thunder Bay River. While the police searched for other body parts along the shoreline and brought in divers, they could not find the remaining parts. The coroner could not determine the official cause of death due to the water destroying all physical evidence. However, they concluded the lower part was severed from the upper part by “mechanical means.” In the later part of the investigation, the police found out that Jerry had died from multiple stabbings. He was identified with the help of his fingerprint.

Who Killed Gerald Holmes?

Since the body seemed to be in the water for a long time, it posed a stiff challenge to the police regarding determining its identity. The inner organs had turned into jelly, there was no blood, and the skin had wrinkled, rendering significant difficulty obtaining fingerprints. With remaining body parts undiscovered, the officers located a tattoo that read “Lori” on his right bicep. They decided to go through their database to check all missing person complaints where the individual had similar tattoos.

The medical examiner injected the fingertips with saline solution to obtain a rolled print of the finger. While such prints have limitations, the detectives got a breakthrough when they got a positive identity of their victim – Gerald R. “Jerry” Holmes. The officers went to his home to question his family and offer condolences. They interviewed Lori Antonette Grotto, his wife of the past nine years, and learned she had four children by another marriage, but Jerry was “a good father to her kids.” She also told them that she had not seen him since late 2007.

Informing the detectives about Jerry’s past, Lori alleged he had again turned to substance abuse, which resulted in frequent fights and arguments. When asked why she had not filed a missing person report, the estranged wife told the officers that she hoped he would return after cooling down. Lori also informed the investigators that she had last seen him with an acquaintance, Hannah Hoffman – a fellow addict and a member of his AA group.

The police found Hannah had a past criminal record and was also the handler of all of Jerry’s bank accounts. However, she was cleared as a suspect after her testimony matched the bank records. She claimed Jerry had gotten a new apartment and provided the officers with the address. When the detectives reached there, the landlord told them Jerry did not move in and asked them to check at Sunrise Mission, a facility that provides a temporary residence to the homeless.

Questioning different members so the establishment, the officers stumbled upon a suspect named Ben Haze since he allegedly wore one of Jerry’s rings. Ben informed the police that Jerry and Lori were estranged, and he had been seeing the latter’s wife, who gave him some of Jerry’s belongings. When his alibi checked out, the investigators were left with no new leads or evidence, and the case went cold for about a year. On August 24, 2009, Sara Rembisz, then 13, came forward and informed the police her biological mother, Lori, was the killer.

Where is Lori Grotto Now?

According to Sara’s testimony, she was sleeping in late 2007 when she was woken up in the middle of the night by Lori. The mother took her to the basement, where the minor girl was shocked to find Jerry’s corpse. When Lori ordered Sara to help her get the body on her truck, she refused and ran upstairs. However, she could hear her mother severing Jerry’s body with his chainsaw in the basement. Sara claimed Lori got rid of the parts and threatened her to keep quiet about the whole incident.

Armed with Sara’s testimony, the officers got a search warrant for the home the family then lived in and Lori’s pickup truck. While the house had no evidence after so many months, the vehicle provided the police with the most crucial piece of the puzzle – a blood spot on the seatbelt on the passenger’s side. When the blood matched with Jerry’s biological daughter, Lori was arrested on February 12, 2010. She pleaded guilty to Jerry’s murder in August 2010, claiming she stabbed him in a fit of rage after he tried to leave her.

However, Lori never admitted to the dismemberment or revealed how she got rid of Jerry’s body. In the end, she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment in September 2010. She must serve a minimum of seven years before being eligible for parole. According to court records, she, in her mid-50s, is serving her sentence at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Pittsfield Township, Michigan.

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