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When our children plot the most brutal murders

MariJohn Granat

Maria and John Granat

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:29PM



It is the cold-blooded brutality of the Granat family murders that makes this crime seem different.

The apparent lack of remorse or emotion of any kind on the part of the alleged perpetrators makes a shiver go up the spine.

And the fact that the four people charged in the murders are Southland teenagers.

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office, sheriff’s police and the medical examiner’s office have released enough information about the crime scene to paint a pretty vivid portrait.

Christopher Wyma, 17, of Bridgeview, and Ehab Qasem, 19, of Hickory Hills, were driven to the Granat home in Palos Township by Mohammad Salahat, 17, of Chicago Ridge, authorities said.

As Salahat remained in the car, Wyma and Qasem, armed with baseball bats, were allowed into the house about 2 a.m. by their buddy, John Granat, the couple’s son, who was angry because his father had destroyed his homegrown marijuana, according to prosecutors.

They said Wyma and Qasem went to a second-floor bedroom where John Granat, 44, and his wife, Maria Granat, were sleeping. The pair took up positions on either side of the bed and began beating the couple repeatedly.

According to the medical examiner’s report, Mr. Granat’s jaw was broken, his teeth were smashed and a kidney was lacerated. Mrs. Granat was beaten just as badly but apparently refused to die.

So Qasem asked the younger Granat for a knife and stabbed the woman about four times, according to an assistant state’s attorney. Her son, John, then took the knife and allegedly stabbed her some more.

Sheriff Tom Dart said his investigators got videotaped confessions from all the participants, and that information they provided led them to the bats, the knife and bloody clothes the conspirators had hidden in the forest preserves.

Money and drugs were involved. Granat had told his friends that his father kept lots of money in the house, and he ran around the place, digging out cash from hiding places as his parents were being murdered, authorities said.

About $31,000 was found, according to Dart, and it was handed out to all of the participants.

Because that somehow didn’t seem sufficient motive to me for this sort of crime, I asked a source in the sheriff’s department if the sale or use of illegal drugs might have played a greater role.

“There is substantial evidence that these defendants were involved in the use or distribution of narcotics,” I was told.

In crimes this horrific, it’s human nature to wonder how such a thing could happen.

How could people be foolish enough to think they could get away with it? How could teenagers who live among us demonstrate such vicious behavior?

I often tell people there is nothing to be learned from such aberrant acts and that the search for knowledge is fruitless.

But somehow this one feels different to me.

“I don’t know if there is anything we can learn from this,” Dart told me. “There were some family problems in one or two cases, divorces or people in the process of divorce.

“But then, one of the brothers (of an alleged attacker) is going to medical school and another is on his way there. So you can’t draw conclusions based on how a person was raised.

“I guess I look at all of this stuff (that he has seen as sheriff), and you walk away feeling some solace if you can say that in your heart of hearts you were entirely involved with your kids.

“I don’t think anyone can be blamed if he or she, rich or poor, has spent a lot of time involved in their children’s lives. But I have a feeling a lot of people lie to themselves about that sort of thing. I think that’s very common.”

Dart emphasized that from everything he’s learned about the Granats, “they sound like they were very good people.”

“I’m looking forward to the forensic evidence, the stuff that will be found on (the accused’s) Facebook accounts, that sort of thing. Maybe that will give us some more insight.”

There is still a trial to be held. The teenagers in this case are innocent until proven guilty.

I can understand crimes of passion. I can understand how people, out of desperation, can commit acts that seem incomprehensible.

And I know there’s a world occupied by street gangs and hardened criminals that I will never fully understand.

This feels different.

I keep thinking of four children sitting in their bedrooms, plotting the most brutal of murders.

And afterward, not caring at all.



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