Keonte Chavis was a young, ambitious girl with a trunk full of dreams and aspirations. She grew up amidst a family who loved and adored her, including her cousin, Christian Grissom. However, Keonte’s life came to an unfortunate permanent halt. Her decomposing body was found beside a mud-track by a passer-by. An investigation into her death revealed a heinous crime committed by a close family member. Investigation Discovery’s ‘American Monster’ delves into the case in an episode titled ‘Hoop Dreams.’ We also conducted a little research to find out what we could about this baffling murder.
Who Killed Keonte Chavis?
After Keonte Chavis’ parents separated, Keonte lived with her great grandmother Mary. Later, Mary decided to move back to Phenix, Alabama, with the then 12-year-old Keonte. Born on October 31, 1994, Keonte had a passion for basketball at a very young age. She would often play with her cousins and friends and be praised for her skills. However, after an accident that injured her knee badly, Keonte could no longer play for the school varsity team. Instead, she pursued her other interests, which to the pleasant surprise of her family members, also included rapping. She also passed the first written test for the Air Force with the highest of scores.
Her personal life, too, it seemed, had been going pretty well with a boyfriend that Keonte’s mother approved of. Keonte’s cousin, Christian Grissom, had been a constant presence in her life since they grew up together in New York and he was also a favorite of Mary’s. Together, they explored their shared love for hip-hop music and rap. The two cousins shared a close bond, and for their family, they were more like siblings.
In August 2014, Keonte had called up her mother, Nikisha, to tell her she had landed an interview for a job that would sustain her sufficiently till she enrolled in the Air Force. That was the last time Nikisha would ever speak to her daughter. The next day, Nikisha called her mother’s house where Keonte had been staying to wish Keonte luck for her interview. Nikisha was shocked to find that Keonte was not there.
As stated in the show, after several calls and failed attempts to reach Keonte, Nikisha called the place where Keonte said she had an interview that day. The manager of the store confirmed that there was an interview scheduled for Keonte, but she never showed up. Neither Nikisha’s mother, nor Christian, who had arrived the day before and had allegedly dropped Keonte at her boyfriend’s place the previous night, had heard from Keonte for several hours. According to reports, Keonte was last seen with her cousin in the 800 block of 6th Street in South Phenix City on August 7, 2014. She would not be found for another few days.
On August 9, 2014, the decomposed body of Keonte Chavis was found in a wooded area near Seale. She had been strangled to death. Since Keonte’s body was discovered after a heavy rain, her body had started decomposing in August’s heat and humidity, making it difficult for forensic evidence to be retrieved. A sketch of the timeline and circumstances of events led the police to Christian Grissom, who, as it turned out, had choked Keonte to death before disposing of her body.
Where Is Christian Grissom Now?
Christian Grissom was the last person to see Keonte Chavis alive. According to the authorities, he also had a history of violence, and at the time of Keonte’s death, he was facing a domestic violence charge. It was later revealed that Christian had dropped by his family’s in Phenix City while fleeing the domestic violence charges. Christian had been with Keonte until around 2 in the morning and returned home without his cousin. When asked, Christian said that he had dropped Keonte at her boyfriend’s place.
The most suspicious activity about Christian Grissom was when he had fled Phenix City instead of helping his relatives who were frantically searching for Keonte. He was arrested on August 11, 2014, from New York. The police arrested him after receiving a report of a fight in progress on Peace Lane. Keonte’s grandfather, in a statement to reporters, said, “When Chris finally showed back up, after the fog cleared for me, I assumed and felt in my heart that he was the one, because he left. And no one leaves their family members in a crisis like this.”
After his arrest, the police issued a search warrant at that residence in NY and the vehicle in which Grissom had driven to NY. The investigators found a blood splatter from the vehicle’s headliner, which was later confirmed to be Keonte’s blood. Cell phone records depicted that Grissom had utilized his phone within a mile of where Keonte’s body had been discovered. Witnesses also testified that they had seen Grissom cleaning out his car later that day.
In September 2017, after a week-long trial in Alabama, the evidence submitted to the court by deputies and the testimony of local law enforcement officers aided in the conviction of Grissom for the murder of his cousin. Grissom was sentenced to life in prison in November 2017. He is currently serving his sentence at the State Correctional Facility in Alabama.
Read More: Where Are Keonte Chavis’ Parents Now?