Investigation into death of Knoxville blogger's teen son

Investigation into death of Knoxville blogger's teen son

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Henry Louis Granju (source: mamapundit) Henry Louis Granju (source: mamapundit)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The death of a Knoxville blogger's 18-year-old son after a claim of a drug-related beating and robbery is under investigation, according to the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

Henry Louis Granju died Monday after a lengthy hospitalization at UT Medical Center. He was allegedly assaulted and suffered a drug overdose on April 26.

Family members say Granju was beaten with a tire iron and robbed by three people during an attempted drug buy.

However, a report from the sheriff's office the next day refers to the incident as a non-crime.

A man named Randall Houser called to report that Granju was unresponsive when Houser and his live-in girlfriend, Yolanda Harper, tried to wake him. He also said Granju had a white powder around his mouth.

Houser told investigators he picked Granju up at the Bi-Lo Market at 2230 W. Governor John Sevier Highway around 7:30 on April 26.

He said Granju appeared to be on drugs when he picked him up and Granju claimed that he was beaten and robbed when he tried to buy prescription narcotics from several men on April 26.

Granju allegedly spent the night at Houser's home so he could start a new job with him, although Houser said he'd never met Granju before picking him up.

Houser told investigators Granju said he knew one of the assailants, but wouldn't give a name or say where the incident happened.

Houser said a purple color was forming on Granju's left eye when he picked him up, according to the sheriff's office report.

Granju eventually suffered a brain injury and bled from his ears.

Partial UT Medical Center records provided by the family state Henry's injuries included, "Trauma. Right skull base fracture."

A drug screen tested "..positive for opiates, cocaine and cannabinoids..." and a social history states, "He has had problems with polysubstance abuse since age 14."

"Of course with drugs, everything is complicated. We're pretty confident that he did take some drugs later that night. But he definitely suffered some blunt force brain trauma as well as compressions to his chest based on someone was stomping on his chest over and over again," says Henry's uncle, Robert Allison. 

Despite those injuries, medical records from May 6 state "....all were recovering nicely. His brain function was returning to more of a normal level."

Henry was transferred to St. Mary's for physical therapy, but was back at UT a few weeks later with "....a decline in his mental status functioning with possible seizure activity," according to hospital records.

"The neurologist who treated him felt very confident that a large portion of the brain injury that ultimately led to his death was caused by the beating," Robert Allison says.

The sheriff's office said Tuesday night that no charges have been filed in the case.

Henry was the son of Katie Allison Granju and Chris Granju.

His mother is the director of digital and social media for Ackermann Public Relations. She's also a former blogger for the Knoxville News Sentinel and the website producer for WBIR.

Chris Granju is Knox County's director of stormwater management.

The family is calling people to speak out about the investigation. Here's a portion of what Katie Granju posted on her blog mamapundit on Wednesday:

"Please make your voices heard. Leave your comments on the news stories covering Henry's death. And we ask that you respectfully and politely express your concerns about the way this case is being handled to the Knox County Sheriff's Department and the Knox County District Attorney's Office (Office of the District Attorney General at 865.215.4466)"

The sheriff's office released a statement Wednesday saying:

"The preliminary investigation shows no evidence that his (Henry's) death was the result of a homicide or from the injuries he may have received from an assault. An autopsy was conducted on Tuesday and the results are pending.

We understand and sympathize that the family wants answers immediately. However, our detectives will not compromise the investigation and will continue to investigate the incident with professionalism and integrity."

Katie Allison Granju's attorney Don Bosch released this statement on behalf of the family:

"It is clear that Henry was severely beaten which at least in part led to his medical emergency that tragically resulted in his death. The Granjus in no way are minimizing the decisions that Henry made to use and abuse drugs, but simply want others involved in the crimes that occurred to be investigated and charged appropriately."

The family has started what's hoped to become a permanent, endowed fund to provide scholarships for families who can't afford drug and alcohol treatment programs for their children.

Donations can go to:

The Henry Louis Granju Memorial Scholarship Fund
c/o Administrator: James Anderson
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
2000 Meridian Blvd. Suite 290
Franklin, TN 37067


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