A psychic detective helps in the investigation of crimes using paranormal psychic abilities. Many supposed psychics have claimed to have helped through their psychic abilities by assisting the police in disappearance and murder cases.
Edward R. Grant fixed cars, went to church and raised two families as the 1973 murder of Concetta Penney Serra in a downtown parking garage hardened into the city’s most notorious unsolved homicide case.
Grant on Friday was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for stabbing the 21-year-old dental hygienist through the heart and leaving her to die. He’d been convicted in June with new DNA technology that tied him to a case that had seen three other suspects come and go and for the first time, he heard the Serra family’s tortured cry.
You stole Penney from John, his first daughter. You sentenced him to life without parole. Why? You’re a cold-blooded killer who made my family wait nearly 30 years for a measure of justice. Why? Cousin Joseph Serra said in remarks during the sentencing hearing, glaring at Grant across the New Haven courtroom.
John Serra died in 1998, trapped for the last two decades of his life in a single-minded quest to find his daughter’s killer. He kept at it as the case bogged down in false leads, charges of political interference, and a “60 Minutes” news investigation. His law enforcement contacts had told him they were closing in on another suspect Ed Grant but Serra died less than eight months before Grant’s arrest.
If you had come forward 29 years ago, maybe I would not have had to look into my father’s haunted eyes, said Rosemary Serra, Penney Serra’s younger sister. You turned time into our enemy. I’ve spent 70 percent of my life looking over my shoulder, wondering if some acquaintance could have been the murderer.
But the 59-year-old car mechanic from Waterbury wasn’t about to provide the answers. In the face of DNA tests that say the chances were 1 in 6.9 trillion it wasn’t his blood on a handkerchief found at the scene, he resolutely denied involvement. I am sorry for the Serra family’s loss. But I had no part in this tragedy, said the small gray-haired man in a dark suit and leg shackles. His back was to the crowded courtroom gallery. On one side were his son, daughter and first and second wives. On the other, were Serra’s sister, cousin and a couple of the former police officers who’d worked the elusive case?
Grant asked for leniency, but his denial seemed to inflame Superior Court Judge Jon C. Blue. The judge said the slaying was a mystery no longer. No one can deny that someone thrust a knife into her heart and left that beautiful young woman dead or dying in a dirty stairwell. No one can deny, Mr. Grant, by the evidence, brilliantly presented, that someone was you, Blue said in a voice that rang out in the courtroom.
The shocking brutality, the lack of justification for the crime, and your refusal to accept responsibility or express remorse preclude leniency. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten your blood-stained hands, said Blue, quoting Shakespeare’s Macbeth. He was referring to the statements from his family in court Friday that he was a loving father, a good neighbor, a gentleman.
Later, after Blue passed a sentence that means Grant won’t be considered for parole until he’s 80 years old, Rosemary Serra shook her head. I can’t fathom how he has lived with himself. Has he pushed it so far back in his mind? Did he try to save his family from that emotional roller coaster? She wondered.
On the day of the murder in 1973, Grant was a 30-year-old ex-serviceman and father of two who may have been in the New Haven area visiting the Veterans Administration Medical Center in West Haven. He’d been injured in a Jeep accident when he was serving in the National Guard in upstate New York and had steel plates implanted in his head. Serra’s attacker struggled with her and fled in her car after the stabbing. Her boyfriend, Phil DiLieto, was briefly a suspect but never charged.
A gruff baseball coach and substitute teacher named Anthony Golino was charged with the Serra murder in 1984, mainly because he’d told his ex-wife that he’d do to her what he did to Serra. A blood test cleared Golino on the eve of trial.
In 1994, a judge rejected a warrant application for yet another suspect Selman Topciu of Plano, Texas, a former patient in Serra’s dental office. In 1997, state police fingerprint expert Christopher Grice, using the latest technology, found new details in the bloody fingerprint on the tissue box. He ran the print against the state’s file and found it matched the print of a man who’d been arrested a few years earlier in a domestic dispute in Waterbury. His name was Ed Grant. Blood samples from the murder scene and Grant were sent to a lab in Denver that was conducting the latest in DNA testing. They matched.