Nearly six years after 78-year-old Ina Gross was found killed inside the garage of her Lakewood Ranch home, her son has been arrested in Israel and will be extradited to Manatee County to face a murder charge.
Thomas Gross, 63, was arrested on Sunday by an Israeli International Police unit at his home in the coastal city of Herzliya, the Ministry of Justice told The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post and other news outlets.
On the early morning of Jan. 9, 2012, Ina Gross was found dead inside the garage of her home in the 11000 block of Hyacinth Place in Riverwalk Hammock community in Lakewood Ranch. It was her son who called 911.
According to autopsy results, Gross’ death was ruled a homicide, but the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has never officially released the manner of death.
Her son, who has dual American and Israeli citizenship, was visiting his mother at the time because his late father was being honored posthumously for his cancer research at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.
While Thomas Gross had been considered a person of interest, a warrant charging him with his mother’s murder was not issued until July 2014.
But Gross had returned to Israel, obtained an attorney and invoked his right not to speak to attorneys before a warrant was ever issued.
Sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow confirmed on Tuesday that they were aware of Gross’ arrest by Israeli police. The sheriff’s office would not be commenting further on the case, he said.
It is unknown how long it will take Gross to be extradited to the United States from Israel.
Money was believed to be the motive for the killing, and the suspect’s sister, Ellen Gerth, believes their mother’s murder was premeditated.
“My brother was unraveling financially, had been unraveling financially for many years,” Gerth told the Bradenton Herald in 2015. “He killed my mother.”
The news of her brother’s arrest was the light at the end of a nearly six-year-long path in seeking justice for her mother’s murder. It was only fitting that the news went public locally as Hanukkah, the festival of lights, began Tuesday night.
It was the best Hanukkah gift she could ask for, Gerth said, and the news brought her some relief.
“The wheels of justice do grind, although they may be slow moving,” Gerth said Tuesday.
Patience paid off, because on Sunday she received a long-awaited phone call from Israeli authorities confirming that her brother had been arrested and that Israel was seeking to extradite him so that he may face the charge of murder back in the United States.
Although Israeli police and Gerth have been made aware of the intimate details of the case against her brother, she would not divulge them Tuesday night.
“I am fully aware of what transpired that night when Tom murdered my mother,” Gerth said. “I would not want to adversely impact the extradition process nor his sentencing. The evidence is strong. There is no denying the evidence.”
Gerth said she was grateful to the Israeli police, as she was to the Department of Justice and the sheriff’s office.
But while her brother’s arrest brought relief in her search for justice, it did not take away the loss she and all those who loved her mother have suffered.
“I don’t wake up one morning without my mother on my forethought,” Gerth said. “The pain of losing my mother has not lessened. I have just learned to deal with that.”
But what makes the pain she has endured worse, is that it was her own brother that took her mother away, she said. But Gerth said she has accepted that “he is not a healthy person” in order to be capable of betraying his own mother by killing her.
“Tom has betrayed me and my entire family based on the charade he has lived all these years,” Gerth said.
Gerth said she also felt sad for her brother because he had betrayed himself and didn’t realize the collateral damage of his actions.
“I am hoping he can at some point address with himself the fact that he has committed a terrible act, a terrible act,” Gerth said. “An apology won’t go a long way, but he owes those that loved my mother an enormous apology.”