Police broke up the party at around 12:25 a.m. (Mar. 6) after receiving noise complaints from neighbors.
A break in and a missing young man
|Philip Kamrass / Times Union|
A surveillance tape showed that at 1:15 a.m. that same morning, a young white male broke into the office building by kicking a window. The footage showed the young man--wearing only a pair of shorts, a white long-sleeved shirt and one sock--kicking the window and making entry by climbing through. It was thought that he probably sustained a non-life threatening cut on his foot at this time. The young man stayed in the lobby and did not try to enter offices. He left the building at 2 a.m.
At 4:50 p.m., about eighteen hours after Grant had left the party three of Grant's friends arrived at the Saratoga Springs Police Department to report him missing. The description of Grant matched the individual in the surveillance video from 3 Care Lane. Friends watched the video and confirmed that the man was Alexander Grant.
City Police and Fire Department Personnel then returned to the medical building and expanded their search of the area. One sock and a pair of pants were later recovered about 150 feet from the building. The pants contained identification belonging to Alexander Grant. There was no other sign of the young man. While there was blood inside the medical office building, heavy rain had fallen for several hours before the break in was discovered, so any blood trail had been washed away well before the police arrived.
The search for Alexander Grant
On Sunday evening, Mar. 6, soon after authorities learned that Alexander Grant was missing, search crews began combing a wooded area north of Church Street behind Sunnyside Gardens along the railroad tracks. The search was conducted both on foot and on all-terrain vehicles.
According to a Saratoga Springs Police press release, "some footprints in the snow were noticed by searchers in the wooded area Sunday night however snow had begun falling so rapidly that the tracks were soon covered over by fresh snow."
Thermal imaging equipment was used without success. The search continued through heavy rain, wind, and snow until 11:30 p.m., when search conditions had deteriorated to the point where the search had to be suspended until the following morning.
On Mon., Mar. 7, nearly 50 emergency personnel from several different agencies looked for Grant from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., while a foot of snow blanketed the area. Attempts to locate Grant using tracking dogs, a state police helicopter, and global positioning via his cell phone failed.
On Tues., Mar. 8 at 11 a.m., firefighters using special equipment found Alexander Grant’s body at a sharp bend in Putnam Creek about 300 yards north of Sunnyside Gardens off Route 9N. The body was found entangled in underbrush and submerged below the water line in about four feet of open water. The location was three-tenths of a mile away from the medical office building where he was last seen. The creek was swollen and had a swift current at the time. Foul play was not suspected.
About two dozen members of the city police, firefighters, state forest rangers and state police were at the scene. At 12:28 p.m., city firefighters wearing special cold-weather gear recovered the body, which was clad only in shorts, a shirt and one sock. The body was removed from woods behind Sunnyside Gardens on Route 9N and taken to Albany Medical Center Hospital where an autopsy was performed by a forensic pathologist.
|Photo Credit: Eric Miller, The Record|
Autopsy and toxicology findings
An autopsy determined Grant died early on Sunday morning from drowning with hypothermia. The temperature outside when Grant left the party was between 28 and 30 degrees.
Saratoga County coroner John DeMartino told The Journal News that while Grant had lost quite a bit of blood at the medical office, it would not have been enough to cause his death, and "His disorientation would be more from hypothermia, or if he was taking drugs and alcohol."
The final autopsy and toxicology reports later showed no indication of narcotics in Grant's system. In order to be certain of the toxicology results, two tests were performed, both yielding negative results. Authorities are still investigating what affected his body or lead to the circumstances of his death.
Earlier authorities stated they believe Grant fell into the water upstream from where he was found while walking in the dark in knee-deep snow. His body then got tangled in underbrush beneath the water line.
"We’re pretty confident his demise occurred a couple of hours after he was seen on that video," Police Chief Christopher Cole told The Record in March. "There’s probably not much we could have done."
Grant's whereabouts from the time he left the party until the time he broke into the office almost two hours later are still unknown.
The Grant family said in a statement that his death was a "tragic accident."
The Saratoga County District Attorney's office is investigating whether anyone at the party had served alcohol to Grant. They may be charged with unlawful dealing or endangering the welfare of a child, both are misdemeanor offenses that carry punishments of up to one year in jail.
|GOLD – Last Seen Location (146 Church St.)|
GREEN – Dormitory area where he would have returned after party.
RED – Medical office
BLUE – Recovery Location, Putnam Creek
On Mar. 10, 2011, more than a hundred Skidmore students, faculty and staff members attended a silent vigil to honor the life of the young men who had been visiting their campus. The vigil was held outside the Case College Center and leg by the Rev. Richard Chrisman, director of religious and spiritual life.
"The death of a student is a tragic event in the life of any college, and this is a grievous loss for two campus communities," said acting Skidmore president Susan Kress. "Our own community is still struggling with this very difficult news. While we must await the results of the investigation into whether alcohol or drugs played a role in this case, we fully acknowledge the seriousness of this issue on college campuses nationally and our responsibility to make absolutely clear to our students the very real dangers that abuse of these substances can present both to themselves and to others."
Boston College held a memorial Mass for Grant on Mar. 22 at Saint Ignatius Church at 7 p.m.
About Alexander Grant
Grant subsequently enrolled at Boston College where, according to the college, he was "a gifted and popular student in his class." He had been recently nominated for induction into the Golden Key National Honors society and was also a founding member of the university’s first fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. He was majoring in economics, and had worked for the last three years as an intern at Risk Resources, LLC, a financial advisory company in New York City.
Grant was involved in philanthropic activities for City Meals on Wheels, the Robin Hood Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, and did fundraising for cancer research on behalf of his friend Demitri Demeropoulos, who preceded him in death. A talented keyboardist, he and his band, the Jays, performed in venues in and around New York City.
He is survived by parents Kenneth and Deanna, sister, Brianna, two sets of grandparents, and aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends.
In a statement issued by the Grant family, Alex's father, Kenneth, thanked the community for their outpouring of support, sympathy, and loving thoughts for the "lad of great promise, humor, warmth and sensitivity."
"We loved him deeply," said Kenneth Grant, "and believe that everyone he encountered felt the same...I will say that not only was he my son, but he was my brother and my best friend. Our hearts are broken and we don’t particularly want them to heal, but we will carry him with us always...on behalf of my wife Deanna, my daughter Brianna and the rest of our family, we ask that you remember Alex in your thoughts and prayers."
On Fri., Mar. 11, a Rabbinical Service was held at the Beecher Funeral Home in Pleasantville, NY, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial on Sat., Mar. 12 at St. Theresa's Roman Catholic Church in Briarcliff Manor, NY. Burial followed in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Shiva was held on Sunday and Monday in Briarcliff Manor, NY. Kenneth Grant is Jewish and Deanna Grant is Roman Catholic, and the family held two services.
The Grant family is in the processes of establishing the Alexander Maxwell Grant Foundation, which will fund musical scholarships for talented and underprivileged young musicians. Those who would like to donate may contact Gina Gill at Risk Resources, LLC, at 646-840-4961 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name/age: Alexander Maxwell Grant, 19
College: Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Physical Description: 6'2", 190 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes.
Last seen: 03/05/11, Skidmore College, 146 Church Street, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Recovered: 03/8/11, 12:28 p.m., Putnam Creek, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Investigating Agency: Saratoga Springs Police, 518-584-1800.
Published: 03/21/11. Revised 09/22/11, 7/15/12.