Joe Grozelle – 7 Years Later Still No Answers

Where? When? How? & Why? – 7 Years later Still No Answers

By: WJO

Remembrance Day (11 November) is a memorial day observed in Canada to remember the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War.

This past November 11th, Rolande and I attended the memorial services at the Arch and the follow-up “hot toddy” social  gathering later at the Senior Staff Mess.

On leaving the SSM we had planned a short stop in Panet House (located next door) to take care of a couple of work related tasks.

As we approached Panet House we noticed a gentleman trying the front door, it was locked. We asked if we could help him out not recognizing right away who he was.

We walked towards each other and quickly realized it was Mr. Ron Grozelle (photo left) father of Joe. Ron and I got to know each other well long before Oct 22, 2003.

23160 Officer Cadet Joseph Grozelle, 21, disappeared from the Royal Military College, where he was a III year cadet on Oct. 22, 2003. His body was found in the Cataraqui River, only a few meters from the college grounds (near HMCS Cataraqui) – on November 13, 2003.

Over these past seven years Mr. & Mrs. Grozelle visit both the college and the exact spot where the body was pulled out of the water. For the first few years we would see and speak with them quite often about the passing of Joe.

“Seven years later, we still don’t know anymore than we knew back in 2003”, Ron Grozelle told me in my third floor office in Panet House. “We know the WHAT, but we sure as heck don’t know the WHERE? WHEN? HOW? & WHY?”

From October 23-November 13, 2003, members of Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (NIS) lead the search for Joe. They conducted searches of the RMC grounds, his room in the Fort LaSalle building, canvassed hospitals and shelters in the Kingston area, interviewed staff and cadets at RMC, flagged credit cards, analyzed Joe’s computer, and worked with the Kingston Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in conducting air, water, and ground searches, including the use of canine teams.

His body was found in the Cataraqui River in Kingston, Ontario three weeks after he disappeared, on November 13, 2003.

The initial examination was not able to establish a cause of death, so further testing was required. The subsequent autopsy in July 2004 listed the cause of death as “undetermined.” Drugs and alcohol were not found in his system. The body was then exhumed in November 2004 for a second autopsy, which also finds the cause of death to be “undetermined.”

While Ron Grozelle and I talked for well over an hour Mrs. Grozelle was doing “circles” around the parade square. “It has been one of her ways to honour Joe’s memory”, said Ron.

Early on following the recovery of the body, investigators suspected suicide.

“If Joe committed suicide we as a family could come to grips with it”, said a matter of fact Ron Grozelle. “He was an intelligent young man, but he wasn’t that smart. For seven years his death has stumped: RCMP, OPP, Kingston police, NIS, an inquest into his death came back as undetermined.”

The Canadian Forces carried out their own board of inquiry – which was an administrative investigation. As far as we know – the WHERE, WHEN, HOW, & WHY, were not answered.

Was he murdered? Did he have some sort of unfortunate accident? If it was an accident in all likelihood at least one other person would have been a witness.

Did he actually pull off the “perfect” suicide? If he did local, provincial and national police services can’t figure out how he did it?

We don’t pretend to know the answer. We can only hope that the family can get closure some day soon.

Previous e-Veritas article on this subject Here

3 Comments

  • Megan Somers

    December 20, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Hi,
    I love your son as one of the best friends that I ever had. I saw him (or wanted to see him) two days before he was tragically killed. Joe sent me letters as I sent Him. There is still a feeling that I feel that Joe needs to let go of…..\\

    Love,

    Megan Somers

  • Megan Somers

    December 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I was a highschool friend of Joe. I like Joe he sent me many letter’s and times inbetween college that I appreciated. He brought his friends and we hung out. Your son was an angel….he loved people and needed to have people around…basic training made himn sick….Very worn out….love you Joe and Family….peace and good will will God!

  • Maggie Brandon

    February 18, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    In Memory to Joe Grozelle and Mathieu LeClair on this Family Day 2013. You are embraced and memorialized in many different families, be it familial or corporeal units. We remember, respect and celebrate each of you on this new Ontarian holiday. You will never be forgotten. You will be cherished always.

    Family and friends of the late Pte. Matthew Hunter-Brown were at RMC for Remembrance Day 2012. We lay flowers for Joe, Mathieu, and our Matt that day. Matt died November 13th 2011, under mysterious circumstances in Cold Lake,AB, according to CF, and Medley, AB according to the RCMP. He was just 13 weeks into his 24th year. CFNIS were on the scene to investigate one day after the crime scene had been dismantled from CFB Cold Lake barracks. The stories recalled by soldiers, interviewed November 13th & 14th, 2011 do not corroborate with pictures taken of the crime scene, by the RCMP on November 13th, and yet the CFNIS were very quick to copy and paste the soldiers’ theories into their reports. Those young soldiers assumed it was suicide. CFNIS was also too quick to take in the assumptions made by these soldiers; soldiers with life span experiences of 20 to 25 years, and not the credentials of employees trained to formulate possible avenues of death.

    No pin-point time of death has ever been determined. No coroner or ME (Medical Examiner) was ever dispatched to the crime scene. She (the ME) exercised a personal discretion and determined that her job skills set were not necessary on the scene, that day, and instead directed the RCMP to process the scene on her behalf. She was stationed only 1/2 an hour’s drive away in Bonnyville that day. Photos were taken of the crime scene by RCMP officers, but not from the mindset of a coroner’s perspective. All of this activity skued and fuelled alternative assumptions, as to what might have happened that day. It has elevated one more case to the level of “mystery”. Those reports are authored by CFNIS. After almost a decade in, from Joe Grozelle’s case, is it any wonder that the parents of our deceased soldiers are wary or cautious about the performance level of our own CFNIS, or their authorship. Our soldiers’ families have every right to question the validity of these reports, and fight for the real stories and the truth, as well as for the integral honour of our fallen soldiers.

    We live in a culture of growing social networks, with the ability to copy and paste reports, at speeds not accomplished 30-40 years ago. We are turning into silicon operators in order to accomplish expectations set out by our bean counters in Canada; this financial goal/achievement directly competes with the bottom line of outsourced and low Asian wages, not sustainable as a living wage in Canada. As a result, we are losing our credibility; we are losing the needed skill sets to determine the real outcomes of such death scenes as those of Joe, Mathieu, and Matthew. These are our officers and soldiers that are dying; this in a time when Canada is not at war. These are our mistakes that we impose upon our Canadian soldiers, while they are at home, amongst us – the Canadian people. These are but only a few reports above. I am willing to bet there are too many more; and there will be many more to come, if we do not change this course. Which of you families out there are not a part of this inner circle of families today, but will be by this time next month, season, or next year?

    If Family Day had its first inception in Alberta, it is perhaps pertinent that we honour, respect, and celebrate you, our fallen, amongst our families, and as one to be included in our family, on this day – Family Day. If no one else – we will embrace you and remember you are part of our families, on this Family Day 2013.

    In spirithood to each of you,

    Maggie
    (mother of the late Pte. Matthew Hunter-Brown)