Susan Grund

It is always fun for me when I read a book or research a case in which geographical areas that are discussed are places in which I have lived at least near and I know the area.  This is just such a case.  I have known about this case for a while, although admittedly I do not recall hearing about it when it happened.  Then again, for one, although I enjoyed true crime I was not as into it then as I am now, and for two, I probably did not even know for sure where Peru Indiana was at the time.  

Currently I am reading the book Deadly Seduction by Wensley Clarkson.  This is the second of his books that I am reading and while I think his books are decent I also think due to his publishing company they are often rushed.  The company thrives on true crime novels and seem to want to be the first to publish so I have found sometimes not only are they a bit liberal on facts but they do not have the entire story because for instance the book I read prior took place before the case had officially ended.  Some of the best information you will find about a case obviously comes out in the trials and the later appeals if the person was convicted.  In fairness to Clarkson I have not finished the book on this story as of yet. Normally I would wait to blog until I was completely finished with the book itself but I decided to look into this case more, prior to me finishing it.  Even still some of the information I found through articles contradicted information I later found in appeals papers.  I tend to believe the court papers as opposed to general articles, or even books on the case because for me, they are more accurate about what happened in the case.

Susan Gund was born Sue Ann Sanders in southern Indiana, near Vincennes but when she was rather young the family moved to the north/eastern part of the state to Peru Indiana in Miami County.  Peru about an hour north of Indianapolis.  Peru is a small town that really is only known for it's "circus" past.  In the early 1900's many circus performers would train in Peru and many of the circus animals were kept here in off season. Sue Ann was one of seven children in the family that by most standards was rather poor.  Sue Ann would change her name to Susan (apparently officially) while still in her late teens.  Most say that this was done because she thought Susan sounded more sophisticated than the name Sue Ann and Susan was all about money and prestige, even at an early age.  The other thing that seemed to interest Susan throughout her life was sex.  Fidelity did not seem to be high on her list of goals in life.

Susan married her first husband when she was 17 years old.  Not long after their wedding Susan and her new husband, Ronnie Lovell, a local musician moved to Oklahoma City Oklahoma where he was from.  The marriage lasted officially about four years despite Susan having multiple affairs.  In fact, she would eventually divorce Lovell in 1979 and almost immediately marry her next husband, Gary Campbell who she had been having one of her affairs with.  Many have stated that Susan was always on the prowl for better than what she had and vowed not to live in poverty as her family had as she had grown up. In the same respect when it came to sex that was another story.  It was said that she had many one night stands and people even reported it was not unusual for Susan to meet someone in a bar and have sex with that person in the parking lot.  While married to Campbell they had a son named Jacob.  During the marriage Gary would claim that one time she stabbed him in the chest with scissors and another time in the leg with a knife.  He would later say that after these incidents Susan seemed to be sexually aroused.  This marriage would also only last a few years.  Next Susan married Tom Whited in 1982.  Susan had been working in a factory that Tom's former ex-in laws owned and Tom worked at.  His first wife, had recently died of cancer and he had a young son named Tommy that was nearly the same age as Susan's son Jacob. Susan spent her 24th birthday on the honeymoon of her third marriage. 

It was during this marriage that it seems a new Susan emerged.  From the outside, at first anyway, they seemed like the perfect little family.  Susan would often dress the boys, who were two when they married, like twins saying that with the only months difference in age it was easier to just say there were twins than to explain they were not.  Tom was not necessarily well off, but he was better off than things were with Campbell, or at least he apparently had potential in Susan's eyes.  Tom's ex father in law, Lester Suenram was not happy with the situation considering his daughter had not been gone but a few months before Tom and Susan started dating and quickly married.  The Suenram's and a few others around thought something did not seem right about the situation but there was little they could do.  And then Tommy started having some accidents.  

Just a few months after her marriage to Tom, Tommy was taken to the hospital suffering from a skull fracture.  According to the story Susan told her had fallen and hit his head. For his part, the now three year old told a nurse "Mommy hit me."  This was in reference to Susan who Tommy had already begun to call Mommy.  No one was contacted and the incident was not reported to authorities.  Then four months later, in May of 1983 once again Tommy was back at the hospital.  This time he was unconscious and was suffering from a brain hemorrhage.  Susan apparently had two stories about what happened.  One involved him falling out of a shopping cart and the other story was that Tommy had tripped over the dog and hit his head on a concrete floor.  This time the doctors and nurses involved were not buying her story.  They determined that bruising and scars (some apparently from cigarette burns), as well as damage to his rectum  on Tommy's body told another tale, that Tommy had been being abused over a period of time.  An investigation was opened.  After talking to Jacob they had more of the facts.  According to Jacob he had watched his mother beat Tommy on a regular basis, often times for not "exercising" at a time in which she expected the children to.  Most reports say that this last beating left Tommy in what is called a "permanent vegetative state" needing care for the rest of his life.  Apparently realizing that she was looking at probably some real time for this crime Susan pleaded guilty to one count of felony child abuse.  Sadly during this time period child abuse was not taken seriously and she received a five year sentence..... all suspended.  What surprised even more people is despite her apparent confession and the fact that she had nearly fatally injured his son, but at the very least damaged him for life, Tom Whited continued to be with Susan, even if just sexually.  Tom was never accused of abusing Tommy but he was criticized for not noticing what was going on in his own home.  For this reason is seems that his ex in laws obtained custody of Tommy.  My research indicates that Lester died in 1998 and his second wife (who had been in the picture since long before Tommy was born), Cornelia died in 2010, both caring for Tommy for the rest of their lives.  It was at this time that Gary Campbell then obtained custody of his son with Susan, Jacob.

So by the summer of 1984 apparently, even though she was three month pregnant by Tom, apparently that relationship was over and Susan left Oklahoma and headed back to Peru Indiana.  Of course, pregnant or not, Susan was not single for long.  In fact it seems she almost immediately hooked up with an old flame of hers.  That was until a few friends of James "Jimmy" Grund thought they would play a joke on their old friend.  Not only did they have no idea their joke would back fire on them, they had no idea they had set their friend on the last journey of his life.

Jimmy Grund and his family were well known in Peru.  They had long been in the legal business.  By the time Jimmy and Susan met up Jimmy was in private practice but at one time he had been the district attorney of the county.  Jimmy's father had also been a district attorney and later a judge at one time.  The law was the family business and in a small town like Peru it also brought prestige. In fact both Jimmy's grandfather and uncle had also been judges. Jimmy had been married once before and had two children, a daughter, Jama and a son James David who always went by his middle name. Jimmy, and his first wife, Jane had married in 1965 and had divorced in 1980 although they had remained living together in the house they had together.  Apparently it seemed to be working out ok but not long after Susan came into the picture Jane would move out. Despite the fact she was pregnant, with obviously another man's baby, thirty-nine year old Jimmy was mesmerized by the twenty-five year old.  He vowed to be by her side when she gave birth to her daughter, Tanelle later that year and just a month later, on December 6, 1984 Jimmy and Susan were married.

It was not long before Susan had Jimmy wrapped around her finger and had him doing whatever it was she wanted.  This included giving up his home and building a new, bigger home in one of the upper society areas of the the town despite the fact that Jimmy had not been super interested.  Between his law practice, Jimmy was also co-owner of a bar and had his hand in a few businesses and he was a workaholic .... with some alcohol added in ... it seems.  It was said that Jimmy told people that although he was not interested in moving or building a home he thought that the time it took to do so would keep Susan busy.  Little did he know that no matter how busy she may have been Susan always found the time to fool around with other men.  

It was not long into the marriage before Susan told Jimmy her version of what had occurred in Oklahoma and convinced him to help her obtain custody of her son back.  Most believe that despite his connection Jimmy simply took Susan for her word, which of course she denied and downplayed Tommy's injuries, that Jimmy did not check with anyone or anything in Oklahoma to see exactly what happened.  In the meantime apparently Susan was back in touch with Gary Campbell and realizing that he was having financial issues got Jimmy involved.  It started out by first helping Gary pay some bills.  Then it was helping him move to Indiana and set him up with a job.  Susan would become the caregiver of Jacob at this point.  Most of my research indicates that while in Indiana Gary met a woman, married and decided to move back to Oklahoma with her, leaving Jacob with Jimmy and Susan.  Some say he had just given up on his child; some say he was bribed by Jimmy and Susan.  I am unsure what the exact truth was.  At any rate soon after Jimmy was also able to adopt Jacob, I am assuming legally, but at this point who knows.  Jimmy also adopted Susan's little girl, Tanelle, with Tom Whited.  

Jimmy and Susan were considered to be in the elite society in Peru and although that is not saying a whole lot considering the size of the town, it was exactly what Susan had looked for her entire life.  She wanted the money and the prestige and now she had it.  Susan probably thought that on the outside all looked well to those around them but even early on there were whispers about Susan's behavior.  Many suspected, and later she and others all but confirmed it, that Susan's wandering eye never settled down.  One persistent rumor involved Jimmy's son David.  Reportedly Jimmy and David had a tough relationship and were not always super close.  The rumor around town was that that was not the case between David and his stepmother.  To be fair David denies that he was involved with his stepmother to this day.  There were those who claimed to see them being closer than they should have been and even Susan's mother and sister would claim that Susan told her that she'd had an affair with David. In the same respect Susan's sister would also claim in open court that her sister was a liar and had always been one.  

As time went on there was little doubt that the marriage was what it once appeared to be. By the early 1990's the couple was having very public arguments it seems nearly every where they went.  Jimmy's friends would say that Susan had a habit of calling the bar Jimmy owned with a friend and he went to after work at the same time every night.  In the beginning of the marriage they said Jimmy would go running home when she called.  By the end they claim he not only did not go running, he left when he was good and ready, vocalizing a few choice words about his wife.  Most believe that Jimmy knew all the rumors about her affairs, and maybe even the one that may have involved his own son.  One of his police officer friends helped him set up a tap on their phone.  The friend would claim that he never listened to the tape but simply gave it to Jimmy.  Many claim it was not long after receiving this tape that Jimmy seemed to severely change his attitude towards his wife but all say he never openly discussed what was on the tapes.  

By July of 1992 they both knew things were not going well and Jimmy had mentioned the word divorce apparently more than once.  He decided that he wanted to take the family on one last vacation (for the kids' sake) before he would file and things would kick in but it was said that Susan knew that when they returned from their trip to Alaska that things would drastically change.  But, before the vacation started something strange happened, not to Jimmy and Susan, but to Jimmy's son, David.  On July 4th David and his girlfriend returned home after a cookout with her family to find that his home had been broken into.  While things seemed to be in a disarray the only thing that was missing was a 9 mm gun he kept in the bedroom.  He reported the theft to the police but I am unsure if he had reported what had happened earlier in the day at that point.  David would later say that earlier in the day Susan had stopped by his home while she had been out and while she was there they were talking about the gun that David had recently bought.  Although he said he later thought some of her questions were odd, he had gotten the gun (essentially showing Susan where it was kept) and she had held it.  

The Grund family returned from their Alaskan vacation on Saturday, August 1st.  They were expected at a party that day and arrived late and left early saying they were all so tired from their long trip.  Over the next two days people would claim that Jimmy not only discussed the Alaskan trip saying how beautiful it was as well as indicating Susan had been less than fun to be with (saying nothing specific) but how basically his life was on a changing course now.  There were the claims that Susan knew that Jimmy was filing for divorce upon their return and that he had also told her that he would take custody of the children.  Some believe that Jimmy died on the night of August 3rd because Susan had not been able to find someone "better" than Jimmy in the financial department and he was planning to divorce her and leave her with nothing.  This meant all of her planning and gone no where.  A few people would later claim that Susan had openly said that her primary goal with Jimmy over the years was to set it up to where if they divorced he would have nothing.  Apparently Susan realized she had over estimated her power and that just could not happen.

On the morning of August 3rd Jimmy had apparently told Susan that his day was full of appointments and that he would not be home until late.  She apparently spent most of the day with her mother and children.  Just before midnight Susan would make a 911 call saying that her husband had been shot.  Seeing who her husband was it seems practically half the town responded.  Susan had also called her sister Darlene to come over, probably not just for her comfort but Darlene's daughter had been spending the night at Susan's also.  The local prosecutor, the Miami County Sheriff's department and the Indiana State Police responded to the scene along with emergency personnel.   The lead investigator, Robert Brinson did not think things looked right from the start.  Jimmy was found inside the master bedroom on a couch.  It looked as if he had been sitting up working on papers that were laid out on the table in front of him.  A glass and a television remote were next to him.  The bedroom looked to be ransacked.  The contents of two suitcases seemed to be sprawled everywhere.  Brinson was convinced the scene had been staged.  Susan, for her part, began insisting it must have been a burglary.  Some say she began acting as if she, herself was a detective.

As Brinson began investigating and more and more people came to the scene he began emptying out the house to preserve the crime scene.  It seems Susan quickly contacted a lawyer friend of hers that advised her not to speak to the police officers anymore.  Despite having that discussion with her sister inside the house and her sister disagreeing with the advice Susan would later go to the police station and give a statement.  She would give the investigators a low down of her day which seemed to be trips back and forth between her mothers, a campground nearby where the family had a camper, and even once back to her home around 9:30 when she said Jimmy was in the room at that time.  But, she had left once again with the kids and had not returned until just before midnight.  Her daughter and her niece had come inside and gathered their things to sleep in the basement.  It would be said that Tanelle had asked her mother to kiss her father goodnight but that Susan had told her that he was already sleeping.  After the girls went to the basement Susan would claim is the first that she had gone into the bedroom and it was there she found her husband.

It seems that many suspected Susan right from the start but there seemed to be little evidence to go on.  Within days Susan would attempt to cash in on a $250,000 life insurance policy and ask to be the executor of Jimmy's estate.  David and his sister Jama filed in the courts to have that stopped.  Also within a week or so David apparently learned that his father had been shot with a 9mm gun, the same type of gun as he had reported stolen in his house on July 4th.  Investigators asked him if he had ever shot the gun anywhere in which they could compare bullets.  He had, into a pole.  The bullet was found and compared to the bullet found in Jimmy Grund's body.  It was a match.  So now investigators knew that Jimmy Grund was shot by a gun that had been owned by his son, but had been reported stolen.  Any defense attorney would have had a field day with this case considering the weapon had not been found but there was little in the way of proving who had possession of it.  By the time the match had been made Susan had moved to Vincennes, where there was other family, with her mother and her children.  

On November 2, 1992 Susan's sister, Darlene had casually run into Investigator Brinson and apparently her conscious was bothering her.  She sat down with Brinson and told him a story that would change everything.  According to Darlene, on September 2nd she had received a phone call from Susan asking her to meet her in Indianapolis.  My research indicated that Susan was getting a ride to Indianapolis and was riding back to Peru with Darlene.  It seems that when Susan left Peru she all but left her home as it was and nothing was moved.  On the way back to Peru Darlene claims that Susan admitted to her (and possibly their mother, Nellie) that she had not only shot Jimmy with a gun she stole from David's home, but that she had placed the gun inside a Christmas teddy bear and it was stored with ornaments.  Apparently the home had already been searched after they determined a ballistics match to David's gun but it had not been found and Susan was scared more searches would come up.  Darlene told Brinson that the bear was retrieved and that it had been placed in a copper pot and cement added.  The last Darlene was aware the pot was in the home of one of Susan's nephews. The nephew's home was searched but the pot was not found. However, investigators felt that with the information Darlene gave they had enough to arrest Susan and did so on November 4, 1992.  

A few months before her trial was to begin in September of 1993 Susan's mother, Nellie had moved back to Peru while her daughter sat in jail and she showed up at the police station with a copper pot.  My research was sketchy on just how she came into possession of the copper pot exactly and whether Nellie had known anything about the weapon being there prior to it being placed there.  At any rate she turned the pot over to the police and when the concrete was broken away a 9 mm gun was inside, just as Darlene had said.   At her trial (at least the one that would be her first) Susan would now change her story just a bit.  She could hardly admit not knowing about the gun since her sister, and possibly her mother, were ready to testify against her regarding that. She would now state that she had come home and found him dead but that she had seen the gun and knowing that it was David's she had hid it.  Strangely, despite all the evidence against her the jury was unable to agree on a verdict.  A mistrial was called when the jury deadlocked 10-2 for guilty.  

Susan's second trial began in March of 1994.  This time she was not so lucky and on March 23, 1994 she was convicted in the murder of her husband.  She was given a sentence of 60 years.  According to the Indiana Department of Corrections website she is eligible for parole on June 8, 2020 but I found something else interesting with that.  I have used this site several times both for personal reasons, as well as for blog purposes and I have found it to be extremely accurate and updated.  On the Murderpedia website there was a copy of an article written in 2012 that stated that according to the site her first chance at parole was May 6, 2020. Now, that could have obviously been a mistake but if it is not it is indicative that while in prison she has possibly had time added and then has worked some of that off although I have no way of knowing if this was true or even what the infraction would have been for.  

Former FBI agent, Candace DeLong who was used as the prototype for the character of Clarice in the movie Silence of the Lambs, interviewed Susan for her documentary show, Facing Evil.  DeLong has been quoted as saying of Susan after her interview that she is a delusional narcissist.  I have probably seen that episode, along with others pertaining to this case but to be truthful I cannot recall what story Susan is likely sticking with today.

According to what I could find Susan's children, the ones Jimmy adopted, Jacob and Tanelle were raised by Jimmy's sister Jane and her husband Fred Allen.  Jacob apparently resides in Indianapolis and has gone on to have several children.  It appears his sister lives in Missouri with her children also, one who was possibly named after Jimmy.

For his part, despite what any rumors may or may not have been true in Peru at the time of Jimmy's death, his son David appears to have come out on the other side much better.  He continues to this day to proclaim that he had no sexual relationship with Susan.  Despite any thoughts that he and his father had relationship issues David apparently sings his father's praises and followed in his footsteps.  In 1997 he became a lawyer and later became a sitting judge in the county. The last I could find was that in October of 2013 he was seeking another 6 year term as a Miami County judge. 


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