Two years later, Lakewood Ranch murder remains unsolved

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Posted: Friday, January 10, 2014 10:02 pm

LAKEWOOD RANCH-- On January 9, 2012, detectives with the Manatee Sheriff's Office descended on a quiet neighborhood in Lakewood Ranch. Inside a garage, they found the body of 78-year-old Ina Gross, a loveable mother, neighbor and community advocate. Detectives ruled her death a homicide.

"She was always there for everybody. If you needed something, if you needed a friend, if you needed to talk, if you needed a ride, Ina was there," said Lucy Bricker, Ina's next door neighbor.

Two years later, the case remains unsolved. No charges have been filed, and no arrests have been made.

"It gets a little frustrating as the months go on, but we see light at the end of the tunnel. We think there will be a resolution in this case," said Dave Bristow with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Detectives continue, however, to have a person of interest in the case. Ina's son, Thomas Gross, was the one who found the body, called police and then fled to Israel in the days following her death. Gross has dual citizenship.

"He was there. He found her. Anyone who was at the crime scene and discovers a deceased person obviously becomes a person of interest," said Bristow.

Little contact has been made with Thomas. He has hired an attorney in Israel, and according to authorities, has refused to speak with the Manatee Sheriff's Office about the case.

Ellen Gerth, Ina's daughter, believes her brother is more than just a person of interest. When asked if she thought anyone else was involved in her mother's death, Ellen replied, "No. There's no reason to believe otherwise."

Ellen does believe justice will be served, and she credits the Sheriff's Office for all the hard work. She just wishes her mother was still alive.

"It's very difficult for me to believe it has been two years since I lost her in such a tragic way. I miss my mother. I miss my mother every day. My mother was taken from me well before her time," said Ellen.

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