Tara Grant's legacy lives 10 years after brutal murder

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Sterling Heights — Ten years after her brutal murder, Tara Grant is leaving behind a legacy through her children and a story that inspires hundreds of domestic violence victims.

Turning Point Macomb CEO Sue Coats, right, comforts Lindsey Standerfer, while she and her brother Ian Standerfer, 14, listen to Alicia Standerfer talk about their mother, Tara Grant on Saturday at Tara’s Walk.

Tara Grant's case is still as relevant as it was a decade ago. The 34-year-old was killed by her husband in their Washington Township home in February 2007.

After their mother’s murder and father’s conviction, their two children — Lindsey and Ian — went to live with Tara’s only sibling, Alicia Standerfer in Ohio. Today, they are all thriving and working to raise awareness of domestic violence, despite their past.

They are all involved in Tara’s Walk, an annual event to raise money and awareness for victims of domestic violence and during the 10th anniversary on Saturday, they said their mother would be proud.

“My mom would be really proud of whats going on,” Lindsey, 16, said in an interview at the walk Saturday. “She would not want her death to be unimportant. She would want people to understand that situations do happen and it, unfortunately, takes one person to lose their life for other people to get the courage to understand.”

Lindsey is now in 11th grade and is on the swim team, runs track in the spring and does rock climbing in the winter. Ian, just 4-years-old when the killing occurred, is now a freshman and is on the wrestling, football and track team. Both attend New London High School in Wisconsin where the family moved from Ohio last year.

Both children have taken Standerfer as their last name and look forward to traveling back to their home state every year for Tara’s Walk.

Lindsey thanked everyone at the event saying, "it means absolutely so much, more than you can imagine," she said through tears.

The 5K walk at Freedom Hill Amphitheater also kicked off Domestic Violence Awareness Month. More than 500 people, including surviving family members walking in honor of lost loved ones, were registered this year. Proceeds benefit the Tara Liberation Fund, which provides emergency cash assistance for domestic violence survivors.

Ian Standerfer, Alicia Standerfer, and Lindsey Standerfer, during Tara’s Walk on Saturday.

“If I can see things like that, I can know what's going on and I can help. It’s preventable and even if you're not directly affected by domestic violence you can still help someone who is,” said Ian, 14.

Alicia Standerfer, 43, said she is now raising four kids and gave an emotional speech about the biggest mistake of her life.

“I witness the controlling behavior but was naive and afraid to step up to say anything to that loved one. I assumed she could handle herself and that was the worst mistake of my life. Tara was murdered at the hands of her husband and we knew we had to use what happened to her to make something better of it,” she said to the crowd on Saturday.

A gruesome murder

On St. Valentines Day in 2007, Stephen Grant notified the Macomb County Sheriff's office that his wife was missing. They had fought days prior about her traveling too much for her job. The fight became violent and her strangled he to death and dragged her body to the garage while their two children were asleep.

Tara Grant.

He later dismembered and dispersed parts of her body to Stony Creek Metro Park in Shelby Township, but when he heard there would be a police search in the area, he took part of the body back to his garage.

Weeks later, police discovered her torso in the garage. On April 13, 2007, he wrote his confession to killing his wife, which was viewed in court and he was convicted of second-degree murder.

He is being held at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. His earliest release date is 2057.

Detroit News reporters, George Hunter and Melissa Preddy wrote a book about the case in "Limb From Limb," which included an interview with Stephen Grant.

Tara Grant was a graduate of Michigan State University, where she met her husband of 10 years. She loved art; so much so, Stephen Grant proposed to her on the steps of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Tara Grant graduated from MSU in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in business administration, with an emphasis on marketing. She went on to work for Washington Group International, a company based in Boise, Idaho, rose in the company for 12 years and ended up back at the firm's Troy office.

She was the breadwinner and he stayed home and cared for their two children, Lindsey and Ian.

No boundaries for domestic violence

“I think people gravitate towards Tara's story because she was such a normal person. An upper-middle-class family, businesswoman, two young kids. They can relate to it,” Alicia Standerfer said Saturday. “Too often we have a misconception that awful things happen to the poor and that's not the case with domestic violence. It doesn't have any boundaries.”

Ian Standerfer, his sister Lindsey Standerfer and Alicia Standerfer, and joined others to honor their mother during Tara’s Walk on Saturday.

Each year, Turning Point, a Metro Detroit help service established in 1980, hosts the 5K event in collaboration with Alicia, Lindsey and Ian. The event is held annually on the Saturday before the start of October.

Last year, 3,083 survivors turned to them for help, over 10,000 crisis calls were made and more than 480 found shelter and help through Turning Point.

Sue Coats, CEO of Turning Point, said domestic violence is preventable and they had over 40 teams at the 10th-anniversary walk.

"We're walking to raise awareness and to help a family," she said.

Detroit News Staff Writer Robert Snell contributed to this report.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_