Man Accused of Gouging Out Grandmother’s Eyes Found Dead in Jail: Report

Tiffany Meier
By Tiffany Meier
March 12, 2019US News
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Man Accused of Gouging Out Grandmother’s Eyes Found Dead in Jail: Report
Michael Grief is accused of gouging out his grandmother's eyes, officials said on March 6, 2019. (Suffolk County District Attorney)

A man accused of gouging out his grandmother’s eyes during a fight about an overdraft on her debit card was found dead by suicide in his cell, according to a new report.

A guard at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead found Michael Grief, 30, hanging in his cell shortly before 4 a.m. on Friday, March 8, according to Newsday.

Grief was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center and then later taken to Southside Hospital, where he was declared dead at 11:12 p.m. on Friday.

Grief was not on suicide watch at the time, Michael Sharkey, chief deputy sheriff at the Suffolk jail said, according to Newsday.

On Wednesday, March 6, Grief pleaded not guilty during his arraignment.

Officials said Grief, 30, of New York, was arrested and charged with three counts of violent assault on Wednesday, March 6, reported ABC7NY.

In court, officials said the incident happened on Feb. 19 when Grief and his grandmother, Sheila Grief, 78, got into an argument in a home they share in Sayville, New York.

Authorities said the dispute was about Grief overdrawing his grandmother’s debit card by $1,000.

The grandmother ran to get help from a neighbor when the fight escalated, authorities said.

During the fight, prosecutors said the grandmother ran out of their apartment and pounded on a neighbor’s door, begging for help, according to News12LI

Prosecutors said Grief followed his grandmother outside, where he allegedly attacked her and gouged out her eyes, effectively blinding her.

“The neighbors who heard the victim screaming and banging on the door came outside, found her on the ground and called the police,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said.

The grandmother was taken to Stony Brook University where doctors operated on her for eight hours trying to save her sight. She has less than a 1 percent chance of regaining her sight, doctors said.

“When the defendant was talking to police and was told he had gouged his grandmother’s eyes out, he was very dismissive,” District Attorney Sini said. “He said, ‘So?’ and shrugged his shoulders.”

“This is an extremely disturbing case,” Sini said, according to CBSNY. “We will take all appropriate action to make sure that not only his family is safe, but that the public is safe from this dangerous individual.”

While Grief does not have any prior criminal history, he does have a history of mental illness and was admitted for care when he was younger, officials said.

“He seemed apathetic toward the situation, this is an individual who we consider dangerous and we have to take all appropriate action,” Sini said.

The superintendent of the building told ABC7NY he heard the two fighting for years.

“I heard yelling and screaming sometimes they would fight and stuff, and then one of the neighbors that lived here years ago said that they always fought,” superintendent David Ryan told ABC7NY.

Grief is charged with one count of first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault and is being held on $500,000 cash bail and a $1 million bond. He could serve up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

“The message here is one about domestic violence: Often people find themselves in situations with their family members where they feel helpless or threatened, and we want to encourage those people to reach out,” Sini said.

“If you are in immediate danger, call 911,” he added. “In non-emergency situations, you can also reach out to the District Attorney’s Office and we can put you in contact with a victim’s advocate who can empower you and help you navigate the process of ensuring your safety.”

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