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Texas Mother Of 3 Gunned Down Just Days Before Her Wedding
Laura Grillo was busy planning the wedding of her dreams when she was shot to death at her home in Rowlett, Texas.
Murders A-Z is a collection of true crime stories that take an in-depth look at both little-known and famous murders throughout history.
Eight days before Laura Grillo was to marry her fiancé, Ioannis "John" Makris, the Texas mother of three was shot to death in in her own home.
Around noon on Nov. 13, 2015, Grillo was discovered dead on the floor of her kitchen by her autistic brother. The 37-year-old had sustained one gunshot wound to the head, and a .45 caliber shell casing was found near her body.
There was no obvious sign of forced entry, but inside the master bedroom, police found an open safe and several turned-over drawers with items scattered about.
While the Rowlett Police Department detectives who arrived at the scene theorized Grillo’s murder could have been the result of a robbery gone wrong, their investigation soon zeroed in on a killer closer to home.
Law enforcement first interviewed Grillo’s brother, who had been living with her, Makris and Grillo’s three children at the time of the slaying. He told police he had been asleep all morning and that he had woken up and found the body, but he had never heard the gunshot.
Detectives learned Grillo’s brother was deaf in one ear and significant hearing loss in the other, leading them to conclude it would have been possible for him to sleep through the murder.
Next, investigators spoke with Makris, who seemed suspiciously unaffected by his fiancé’s death.
“He cried very lightly for about a minute. It struck me odd that there was a … lack of emotion or very weak crying. It just seemed strange to me,” Rowlett Police Department Det. Cruz Hernandez told “A Wedding and a Murder,” airing Thursdays at 9/8c on Oxygen.
Makris said that the morning of the shooting, he and Grillo had left the house at around the same time, and that he went to a Home Depot in Dallas County where he met his two employees — Jesus Trevino and James Villeda — to pick up supplies for his home-remodeling business.
In an interview with Trevino (Makris’ best man) and Villeda, the two corroborated Makris’ alibi and said they joined him at the store an hour after he arrived, around 9:45 a.m. Video surveillance from the parking lot and inside the store also proved the three men were at the Home Depot at that time.
Makris maintained he had no knowledge of the murder and told detectives there had been about $8,000 to $9,000 in their home’s safe. He also submitted to a gun residue test, which confirmed he did not pull the trigger.
A few days following Grillo’s slaying, investigators reviewed video footage taken at the crime scene that had been captured by a police officer’s body cam. When the officer spoke with Makris and asked him who lived at the home, he did not mention his fiancé, which detectives found puzzling.
“John didn’t seem overly upset. They’re about to be married in a week, and he’s not reacting the way that I would expect someone to act in that position,” Detective Christopher Sawyer told “A Wedding and a Murder.”
Makris exhibited other odd behavior, like “immediately” wanting to move back into his home and get rid of Grillo’s possessions, according to true crime author Pat Springer.
“He didn’t seem like the grieving fiancé that they expected,” Springer said on “A Wedding and A Murder.”
Makris also re-appropriated wedding items like Grillo’s bouquet for the funeral, which Grillo’s matron of honor, Heather Nabor-Grace, called “horrifying.”
Police obtained warrants for Makris’ cell phone records and discovered an email from Grillo written in June 2015. Grillo had sent the email while Makris was away on business, and in it, she chronicled how unhappy she was in the relationship and suggested that they break up.
A month later, however, Makris wooed Grillo back with a romantic proposal in front of her three children and her brother, and the couple seemingly patched things up.
Furthering their investigation into Makris, police also secured warrants for his employees, and detectives determined that Trevino and Villeda’s phones were in Rowlett at the time of the murder.
“It was very interesting because around 7:30 is when John would be heading into Dallas. At the same time, Jesus and James’ cell phones were together, and Jesus’ cell phone showed him heading down to Rowlett,” Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Marissa Hatchett told “A Wedding and a Murder.”
By digging into the two men’s pasts, investigators learned they were both convicted sex offenders, and that Trevino was a previously deported felon who was back in the U.S. illegally, said Det. Sawyer.
On Dec. 17, without enough evidence to charge him in connection to the murder, police obtained an arrest warrant for Trevino for failing to register as sex offender. Trevino, however, was nowhere to be found, and authorities asked for the public’s help in locating him.
A tip soon came in from Rockwell, Texas, where a witness reported to police that a family member had previously dated Trevino. Authorities were able to track down Trevino’s ex-girlfriend, Lorena Rodriguez, who told them she had filed a report with her local police regarding the murder.
"She said that Jesus said that his boss was hiring him to kill his wife,” Hatchett said.
Rodriguez reported that Trevino had been hired to kill Grillo for $15,000 months before the murder occurred, but Rodriguez did not know who the victim was going to be or the identify of Trevino’s boss.
Detectives suspected Grillo’s slaying was in the works prior to the couple becoming engaged, and that the murder for hire was likely triggered by the email Grillo sent to Makris. They theorized that Makris only proposed to Grillo in order to stop her from leaving before the hit took place.
“We felt like this was the reason why Laura was murdered — because she wanted out the relationship, and John did not want to lose her or the children as a result,” Det. Sawyer said.
After obtaining a warrant to search Trevino’s Google account, detectives found incriminating photographs of a woman wearing a bandana around her face and holding a .45 caliber handgun. Police were able to identify the woman as another ex-girlfriend of Trevino’s, who was living in Denver, Colorado.
She provided Trevino’s new cell phone number to investigators, and by accessing those phone records, they were able to locate him in Clearwater, Florida. Trevino was arrested on April 1, 2016, by ICE agents, who escorted him back to Dallas County.
Also found on his Google records was a photograph of a Texas ID card belonging to someone named Ramone, whom police tracked down to Mesquite, Texas. Ramone told investigators he knew Trevino and that he had previously worked for Makris.
He also had inside information about the investigation that cracked the case wide open.
“Before I could ask any questions, Ramone told me, ‘I know why you’re here. It’s because Jesus killed the boss’ wife,” Cruz said.
Back in January 2015, Ramone said, Trevino told him that Makris wanted Grillo dead, and that he was willing to pay him $15,000 to carry out the murder. Ramone then led police to the apartment where the photograph of Trevino’s ex-girlfriend with the gun was taken.
There, a former roommate told investigators that Trevino offered him money on multiple occasions to be the driver for the hit.
With this evidence, detectives secured indictments against Trevino and Makris for the murder of Grillo. Villeda, who The Dallas Morning News reported was being held on an unrelated drug charge at the time, agreed to testify against Trevino and Makris in exchange for a 25-year sentence.
He laid out the entire murder plot for authorities: Trevino mentioned to Villeda that he had to go to Rowlett to shoot a woman, and Villeda agreed to be the driver. He said Makris purchased a silver Kia for the two to use during the murder.
On the morning of Grillo’s shooting, Trevino let himself inside the couple’s home using the security code provided by Makris. He waited for Grillo to return, and he then snuck up on the mother of three and shot her in the head. According to Villeda, the money in the couple’s safe was removed before the murder occurred.
The silver Kia, which was spotted in surveillance footage taken in Grillo’s neighborhood around the time of the murder, was later dumped at a body shop. As Trevino and Villeda fled the scene, Trevino took off his clothes and threw them out the window of the car. They ditched the gun in a dumpster in Dallas.
Trevino and Makris were both convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to The Dallas Morning News.