Saratoga Springs Police Department releases full report on death of Alexander Grant: Investigation of active leads complete, but case to remain open

Posted by Gabe Weintraub

The Saratoga Springs Police Department announced today that they have completed their investigation of all active leads in the death of Alexander Grant. The case will remain open pending new information. Below is the full report:

Saratoga Springs Police have finished examining the active leads in the investigation into the death of Alexander Grant during the early morning hours of March 6, 2011. A summary of the investigation is below. Much of the information contained herein has been released on prior occasions.

On March 5, 2011 Alexander Grant, 19-years-of-age from Briarcliff Manor, NY who is a student at Boston College, travels to Saratoga Springs during his spring break to meet with friends who are attending Skidmore College. He arrives in Saratoga Springs sometime before 8:30 p.m., picks up a friend in the downtown area and travels to Skidmore College. He plans to stay with a friend in one of the dorms on campus.

Between his arrival in Saratoga Springs and 10:28 p.m. when he boards a bus on the Skidmore Campus, Grant and several others are drinking beer and tequila in one of the dorm rooms. At 10:28 p.m., Grant and the group of people he is with board a bus at Skidmore and then is dropped off at the intersection of Clinton and Van Dam Streets.

They then walk to a party at 146 Church Street where Grant is reported to be last seen dancing with a female between 11 and 11:30 p.m.. Two female Skidmore students are identified as having contact with Grant at the party however both report that Grant was only there for a short time before he went to another part of the house and they never saw him again. Grant's friend loses track of him at the party and assumes that Grant has met up with someone else and that they would re-connect at a later time. His friend sends approximately six text messages to Grant between 11:37 p.m. and noon on March 6 asking where he is and giving Grant the address of the dorm room. All of the people who report seeing Grant at the party state that they left the party when the police arrived to break it up at about 12:30 a.m.

Surveillance video at the train station on Station Lane off of West Avenue in Saratoga Springs shows Alexander Grant walking to the front of the building from Station Lane at 11:31 p.m. He is alone, fully clothed and appears to be staggering as he walks. Grant is observed walking around the building to the train tracks behind and then is last seen heading north along the tracks towards the Church Street overpass. No other people or vehicles are observed coming or going from the train station. He is last seen at the train station at 11:34 p.m.

At 1:33 a.m. surveillance video at 3 Care Lane captures Alexander Grant kicking in a small 3x3 window at the entrance to the building. He squeezes inside and is now observed to be wearing only one sock, a long sleeve white shirt and shorts. He appears to have already fallen outside, as there is dirt on his back upon his entry to the building. Grant has cut himself and is bleeding considerably. He never leaves the lobby area or attempts to break into any of the offices. He appears disoriented and/or intoxicated. He is stumbling into the walls and repeatedly loses his balance. He eventually staggers out of the building once again at 2:11 a.m. and is last seen walking away from the building. Any blood trail that may have been left by Grant at that time was washed away by heavy rains during the day on the 6th, prior to police being notified of the break-in at 12:36 p.m.

Police are notified of the break-in at 12:36 p.m. on the 6th. A brief search of the area for evidence related to the burglary is conducted as police have no missing person report until 4:47 p.m. when Grant's friend and another student arrive at Police Headquarters and report that Grant has not been seen since the party on Church Street. No additional evidence of the burglary is located during the initial search.

Grant is quickly identified as the person observed on the Care Lane surveillance video and an intensive search of the area is immediately begun. An approaching severe winter storm reduces the amount of time police and fire personnel will be able to search on the night of the 6th. New York State Forest Rangers are unable to respond during the night due to the storm and New York State Police Aviation is unable support the effort that night. Thermal imaging units were employed without success. The Saratoga County Reverse 911 system was activated, reaching 7,000 landlines within a half-mile radius of Care Lane generating any leads or reported sightings.

Small search teams begin searching the area to the north and west of the Care Lane area, along the railroad tracks, and including the buildings at Sunnyside Gardens. One search team located Grant's pants and wallet on top of a snow bank between the Care Lane building and the railroad tracks. Another search team located footprints in the snow along the railroad tracks. There was only one set of footprints that traveled north along the tracks occasionally entering the woods, circling dense brush and then returning to the tracks. One set of tracks leading into the woods towards Putnam Creek was observed and a visual check of the creek was made without success. The tracks were lost and no other tracks were observed further north. By this time the storm had become too severe for further searching and all search teams were called back to the command post.

On the morning of March 7, an intensive search with additional manpower was begun at about 10:30 a.m. with improving weather conditions. Searching continued all day on the 7th until dark. Search teams again were sent out on March 8 at 9:45 a.m. and at 10:43 a.m., Saratoga Springs Fire Department personnel located Alexander Grant's body submerged in Putnam Creek under an ice shelf in about four feet of water approximately 30 yards from where the last set of foot prints were seen during the search on the night of the 6th.

Chief of Police Christopher Cole and Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth made notification of the recovery of Alexander Grant's body to his parents.

The body was turned over to Coroner John Demartino and Dr. Michael Sikiricka at Albany Medical Center performed an autopsy on March 9.

The cause of death is officially listed as asphyxia due to drowning with contributing factors of intoxication and probable hypothermia. At the time of his death Alexander Grant had a blood alcohol content of 0.16 percent. A low level of THC (marijuana) was also detected. Injuries sustained by Mr. Grant were consistent with someone who had been stumbling through the woods with no indication of injuries consistent with an assault observed. As noted by Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy previously, two toxicology tests were run with several hundred drugs being screened for. Other than the alcohol and marijuana, no other drugs were detected in Grant's system at the time of his death. The known facts of the case tend to support the conclusion made regarding the cause of death. Alexander Grant apparently became lost and disoriented due to his level of intoxication and suffering from the effects of hypothermia tragically fell into Putnam creek and was unable to pull himself to safety.

Police do not suspect foul play in the death of Alexander Grant. However, police have tried unsuccessfully to interview the occupants of the 146 Church Street apartment. With the exception of one of the occupants, who police spoke with last week, all have declined written requests by police to their attorneys to make them available for interviews. The friend that Alexander Grant had come to visit and planned to stay with while in Saratoga Springs has also decided not to speak with police any further and has obtained legal counsel.

Police have stressed that the priority of this investigation is to determine what happened to Alexander Grant. Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy has offered immunity from prosecution for anyone who may have information relating to what happened to Alexander Grant but fears being arrested for minor disorderly conduct or alcohol related charges.

Police have located the source of the alcohol for the Church Street party, which was legally purchased by someone over 21 years of age. Police were first notified of the party on Church Street at about 11:50 p.m., nearly 20 minutes after Alexander Grant is captured on surveillance video at the train station. Patrol units were eventually able to respond, and arrived at 12:25 a.m. on the 6th. Police had a difficult time controlling the unruly crowd and dispersing the partiers. While doing so they were unable to build enough probable cause to arrest anyone for furnishing alcohol to minors at the party. None of the occupants at the time of the party currently reside there.

As for the drinking that occurred in the dorm room at Skidmore College. None of the participants was of age. Police do not know how the alcohol was obtained, but do know that alcohol was consumed in the room, including by Alexander Grant. Again, the source of the alcohol at the dorm room was a secondary consideration during the early phases of the investigation. By the time police were able to focus on this aspect of the case, potential witnesses were uncooperative and police were not able to locate independent evidence of the source of the alcohol in the dorm room. In consultation with Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy and in consideration of court decisions and the facts of the case, a decision has been made not to charge any of the occupants of the room with a criminal offense.

Police do not know how or why Alexander Grant came to be at the train station at 11:31 p.m. Based on the time of the video, Grant was at the party on Church Street for considerably less than one hour. He appears in the video, walking alone and apparently intoxicated. Police have been unable to locate anyone who saw or had contact with Grant between the time he left the party and the time he appears at the train station. Several phone messages and text messages were sent to his cell phone between 11:37 p.m. and noon of the following day, however Grant never answered and his cell phone was never recovered. It is important to note that no one and no vehicles approach the train station for a considerable amount of time before or after Grant appears on the video.

By the time Alexander Grant appears at the Care Lane location, he has not only shed some of his clothing but he appears quite disoriented, probably suffering from the effects of hypothermia. In addition, on March 9 an employee of 7 Care Lane found Alexander Grant's Boston College ID in the snow next to the door. The door to 7 Care Lane has a swipe card lock system similar to the system at the entrances to the buildings at Boston College. Along with the footprints in the snow that enter the woods and circle dense brush repeatedly, this indicates that Alexander Grant was considerably disoriented.

At this point the Saratoga Springs Police have no more active leads. However the case will remain open in the event that someone comes forward with information about the critical time period between when Grant leaves the party and he arrives at the train station. Grant's shoes and cell phone were never recovered and if found may give police additional information on his route of travel and therefore additional possible leads. Police will leave the investigation open in the hope that someone or some item of evidence will provide the critical information needed to complete the investigation.

The family of Alexander Grant will continue to be advised of any developments in the case. Once again, the Saratoga Springs Police offer their condolences, and their support to the Grant family.

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