Johns Creek murder investigation under fire

Medical examiner, victims’ family critical of police actions

Johns Creek police are facing heat from the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office and victims’ relatives over their handling of the city’s first homicide case.

After a family of four died in a murder-suicide Feb. 4, the county medical examiner was never notified, according to an investigative summary obtained Friday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Fulton medical examiner’s report said it was the media that first alerted the office to the discovery of the bodies of Shivinder Grover, his wife Damanjit “Daisy” Grover, and their sons Sartaj and Gurtej, ages 12 and 6 respectively, at their apartment off Abbotts Bridge Road.

Georgia law requires law enforcement officers to immediately notify the county medical examiner of suspicious or violent deaths.

Forensic investigators also clashed with police at the crime scene. It took almost seven hours after the initial police call-out for forensic investigators to be allowed inside, according to the report.

Relatives of Daisy Grover also want police to release evidence about Shivinder Grover, who they say was struggling with depression, to shed light on why he killed his family and whether it could have been prevented.

Johns Creek police have not responded to repeated requests over the past two weeks for more details about the investigation. They also declined Friday to respond to the medical examiner’s report.

City Manager John Kachmar said police are awaiting toxicology reports before releasing the file. He also said it would be unimaginable that police would not have contacted the medical examiner’s office. Technicians from the medical examiner’s office were kept away from the scene, he said, because they weren’t dressed in sanitary footwear.

City spokesman Doug Nurse said it was never the intent of the police to put off the medical examiner’s office, but there wasn’t much technicians could do until the crime scene was processed.

Police found a grisly scene at 11:34 a.m. that day after a co-worker of Daisy Grover’s at Emory University Hospital asked them to check on her because she hadn’t shown up for her job as a physician’s assistant. Shivinder Grover, an executive at Siemen’s, had committed suicide by hanging himself in the entry way. The father had slit his childrens’ throats and bashed his wife’s head with barbells he took from the apartment complex gym, according to the autopsy.

A few hours after the discovery, calls from reporters started coming in to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office, but they were unaware of the deaths, the report said.

By about 4:30 p.m., after making several unsuccessful attempts to contact Johns Creek police, the medical examiner’s office sent a unit to the scene.

Johns Creek officers told the medical examiner’s investigators they were still waiting for a detective to finish making a sketch of the crime scene, according to the report. The officers said it would be another two hours before they were ready for the medical examiner’s team to enter.

At around 6 p.m., a second unit tasked with body removal arrived from the medical examiner’s office. They were told they’d have to wait another two hours, the report said.

The forensic investigators apparently bristled.

“I advised them we had been there a very long time and that we had not ever even gotten a phone call from their office about the deaths,” the report from one of the investigators said.

Forensic investigators had to stop Johns Creek officers from removing items from the apartment before they could enter to take photos, the report said, prompting a further critique from a forensic investigator: “I advised them they were to notify us of the death when they were aware there was a death, not wait until they removed everything we would need to see and then call us.”

Frank Rotondo, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, said the Johns Creek Police Department should sit down with Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office and work out a protocol.

Rotondo said the department, which was established in 2008, is well-managed and likely will learn from this.

“This whole issue is probably a function of them not having a homicide before,” Rotondo said.

Friends and relatives of Shivinder Grover, interviewed shortly after the slayings, described him as a loving father and husband. Neighbors said they often saw him playing with the boys.

But relatives of Daisy Grover who spoke publicly for the first time this week said her husband was being treated for depression and anxiety. They said he was angry and controlling at times, and rarely allowed his wife to travel.

Daisy Grover’s sister, Lilly Kaur of Chicago, said police took composition notebooks from the apartment that contained writings from her brother-in-law. She believes the notebooks could shed light on his mental state.

Kaur and Daisy Grover’s six other siblings also want to know whether police talked to Shivinder Grover’s psychiatrist. Kaur said her brother-in-law told her two days prior to the killing that he had gone to see a new psychiatrist, and that the psychiatrist wanted to admit him to a hospital.

“So [the psychiatrist] obviously knew something was not right,” Kaur said.