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Why would a teenage boy help kill his own father? That was the mystery investigators had to unravel after James Grant was found murdered.
On September 15, 2007, Gatesville, Texas Sheriff’s Department officers responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle. When they arrived at the scene, they found a body a few feet from the pickup, according to court documents.
An officer ran a registration check on the vehicle and determined that the victim was local resident James Michael Grant, according to “Mastermind of Murder,” airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen. A divorced 44-year-old father, Grant was known in the community for his various business ventures.
Retired Texas Ranger Jesse Ramos described the murder as “a very passionate homicide” — he had been stabbed multiple times and then dragged into the truck.
Officers were unable to find a murder weapon or fingerprints on or around the vehicle.
In Grant’s bedroom, blood covered the walls, bed, and dresser. Investigators concluded that they’d found the murder scene. “It was a nightmare that never ended,” said Ramos.
There were no signs of a break-in and all the doors were locked — meaning the killer likely had access to the house keys.
Grant was the one who had custody of his children, they learned. At the Grant residence, his 15-year-old son, Jamie, told officials he hadn’t heard anything during the night.
The children were placed in the custody of their mother and Grant's ex-wife, Megan Lewis, 44. She worked as a nurse for the Gatesville Texas Department of Justice, David Castillo, former District Attorney, Coryell County, told producers.
The Grants had endured a contentious divorce. Grant fought hard for custody of his kids, but Jamie was angry that he had to live with his father.
Lewis said she was at work at the time of the murders, an alibi that checked out, though. She told authorities that her ex-husband’s murder “was probably a drug deal that had gone bad and that he was involved in the distribution of drugs,” said Ramos. She claimed that Grant had used a storage unit as a meth lab.
Authorities were unable to find any evidence to back up Lewis’ allegations about his character or supposed drug dealing.
Grant’s autopsy showed that he had been stabbed a dozen times, reported kdhnews.com. He had died from wounds inflicted to his heart and major arteries. Grant also had defensive wounds on his hands, arms, and legs.
When officials spoke with the victim’s father, he expressed his concern about Jamie.
“Michael had been experiencing these fears that Jamie was out to hurt him and possibly kill him,” said Ramos.
The focus of the investigation turned to 15-year-old Jamie, who had a long history of emotional problems and antisocial behavior. As a child he had fantasized about killing things, according to tdfnews.com.
Investigators learned that despite Grant’s dedication to helping his son, the boy’s issues continued to surface.
“I wasn't surprised when I was told that Michael Grant had been murdered,” said Carol Prater, the victim’s attorney. “Michael told me at one point, he woke up in the middle of the night and Jamie was standing over him.”
A week after Grant’s murder, Jamie was interviewed by investigators. They received special permission from a judge to interview the minor without his mother present. Jamie stuck to his story that he knew nothing about his father’s murder.
Investigators subpoenaed Jamie’s cell phone records, and discovered that on the day of Grant’s murder, Jamie was on his phone when he claimed he was sleeping. The calls were with John Hopkins, an ex-con who’d served time for armed robbery. Authorities learned through witnesses that Jamie and Hopkins partied together.
Hopkins’ ties to the victim’s family didn’t stop there: Hopkins was dating Lewis.
“To some degree, Jamie Grant looked at him as his stepfather,” said Castillo, with Prater claiming, “After the divorce, Megan engaged in a pattern of trying to turn the children against their father."
Six weeks passed before the case took a surprise twist. Lewis called authorities to report that Hopkins was suicidal. She gave detectives a note she said Hopkins had written and in it, he confessed to Grant’s murder.
Hopkins was eventually found and brought in for questioning. Hopkins’ note didn’t implicate Lewis or Jamie in any way in the stabbing death, but he changed his story while in custody.
Hopkins, who said he’d do anything for Lewis, told investigators that she and her son played a part in the slaying. She repeatedly told him that she needed Grant dead in order to get custody of her kids, according to “Mastermind of Murder.”
A plan was hatched to kill Grant. Jamie would leave a door unlocked to give Hopkins access to the house, and would call to alert him when his father was sleeping.
After he stabbed Grant, he said that Jamie “basically stomped on his father’s chest after he was dead,” said Castillo. Phone records backed up Hopkins’ account of the crime.
Lewis denied any involvement in the crime, while Jamie claimed that Hopkins forced him to participate by threatening him with a knife and a gun.
“It was very obvious to me that Megan was telling Jamie what to say,” said Ramos.
Jamie eventually confessed to his role in the murder of his father, but never threw his mother under the bus.
Investigators concluded that Lewis, whose co-workers stated that she didn’t hide her dislike for Grant, was the puppeteer behind the murder plot.
“It was quite evident that Megan manipulated Jamie and did everything in her power to get Jamie to hate Michael and want him dead,” said Castillo.
Hopkins pled guilty to the life sentence with no parole. Hopkins testified against Lewis, who was found guilty of murder and tampering with physical evidence. She was sentenced to life in prison.
Jamie Grant was sentenced to 45 years in prison for his father’s murder.
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