Quantcast

Woman accused of killing mother was bipolar, letter states

Daughter stabbed victim multiple times, police say

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 27 2012 4:07 p.m. MST

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Zita Gruodis said her daughter was bipolar and she didn't want to have a protective order against her, according to a letter she sent five months ago.

In a letter filed in June, Gruodis begged a 3rd District judge to help her daughter.

But police say there was a long history of domestic violence in the Gruodis house, particularly between the mother and daughter. Now, the daughter sits in the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated murder after allegedly stabbing her mother multiple times in bed and leaving her for dead.

The woman was believed to have been dead for a day or more before police discovered her body in an upstairs bedroom.

Airida Maria Gruodis, 36, was arrested shortly after midnight Tuesday and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail. Cottonwood Heights police investigators say they feel confident she will be the lone person arrested in connection with the death of her mother, Zita Gruodis, 58.

An autopsy was to be performed by the state medical examiner Tuesday to determine an exact cause of death. A Salt Lake County Jail report noted that her body was discovered with "numerous knife wounds."

Zita Gruodis' body was found on a bed in her home, 7941 Chadbourne Drive (3350 East). There was no attempt made to conceal it, said Cottonwood Heights Police Sgt. Gary Young. Investigators believe the woman had been dead at least a day or two, possibly more.

Neighbors reported hearing a loud argument between the daughter and mother "a couple of days ago, which is believed to be the time of death," according to the report.

Airida Gruodis, who police say has a history of mental illness, told investigators she had been off her medication, which usually results in "bad things happening," the report states.

Zita Gruodis' body was discovered during a bizarre series of events Monday afternoon, beginning with a traffic stop in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Other motorists had reported a possible drunken driver about 3 p.m. Within 15 minutes, a nearby officer spotted the vehicle and watched as the driver veered off the side of the road.

The officer interviewed Peter Gruodis for several minutes. At one point, unexpectedly, the man told the officer he was "distraught because his wife was dead" in their home, a jail report states.

Cottonwood Heights police reported they were "very aware" of the Gruodis residence, having been called to the house numerous times for domestic violence incidents. Specifically, they had been called to investigate allegations of Airida Gruodis attacking her mother.

When officers arrived at the house about 3:30 p.m. Monday, Airida Gruodis was "evasive" and "dismissive when officers asked about her mother being deceased," the report states. The officers were aware that Gruodis was currently under the jurisdiction of Mental Health Court and had recently been hospitalized under its care, according to the report.

When detectives interviewed Peter Gruodis again, he said Airida Gruodis had reacted with "indifference" after he discovered his wife's body.

Police put Airida Gruodis in a protective suit, typically used in hazardous materials situations, because she was "acting irrational, and at one point she lunged at the officers" and bit one of them on the hand, according to a report.

A search warrant was served on the house, which resulted in "numerous items" of evidence related to the crime being collected, Young said.

Peter Gruodis, 60, was also arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on an unrelated outstanding warrant for domestic violence.

In a handwritten letter submitted to the court in June, Zita Gruodis appeared to be asking the court for help. In her one-page letter written in broken English, Gruodis wrote that her daughter "didn't have medications" and appears to describe her behavior as insane.

"… How she behave, it was insene," she wrote. "I just have one daughter, and she does'n have freedom."

Gruodis claimed the police department forced her to get a protective order because an ambulance had been called to her house.

David Sollis, the landlord of Zita Gruodis, said he believes the system let his friend down. He believes her daughter should have been committed to a mental health facility if for no other reason than to protect her mother.

"Institutionalized, no ifs ands or buts. She is a threat to society and has been ever since they let her out approximately three years ago," he said of Airida Gruodis. "(Zita) loved her daughter. But she couldn't control her daughter's medications."

Sollis said Zita Gruodis had been having a "hard go" the past few years because of issues with her daughter.

"How much can you do for an adult child that apparently has some serious mental issues?" he questioned.

When Sollis heard about Zita's death, "I pretty much suspected what the ultimate cause was," he said.

A check of Utah state court records shows a tumultuous history with the Gruodis family. Airida Gruodis was accepted into Mental Health Court in August after being charged with assault by a prisoner, a third-degree felony. According to court records, she kicked an officer at the jail who was trying to get her ready to go to court.

But court officials say despite being accepted, she never attended her first session because she was still receiving in-patient treatment at a local hospital.

In February, Airida Gruodis was charged with violating a protective order, a third-degree felony, after she showed up at her mother's house.

In 2011, Airida Gruodis pleaded no contest to an amended charge of attempted violation of an protective order. She was sentenced to probation. In 2010, she was found guilty in Holladay Justice Court of two counts of misdemeanor assault resulting from separate domestic violence cases and intoxication.

Zita Gruodis also took a plea in abeyance to misdemeanor assault in a domestic violence case in 2010. She also sought protection orders from her daughter in 2010 and 2001, according to court records.

Zita Gruodis was the owner of Zita's European Massage in Holladay.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS