MANATEE -- Investigators have an arrest warrant for the man they think killed his 78-year-old mother in her Lakewood Ranch home three years ago.
Ina Gross was found dead in the garage of her home in the early morning of Jan. 9, 2012.
Her son, Thomas Gross, 61, is now an official suspect, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, which worked with the State Attorney's Office to build a case and obtain an arrest warrant in July.
Gross made the 911 call reporting he had found her in the garage, and he was later ruled a person of interest.
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Ellen Gerth, who lives in Tampa, has been waiting for justice for her mother. It was a jubilant day, she said, when she learned the warrant was issued.
"This person, my brother, who murdered my mother, will now understand he cannot continue to live a life of freedom and enjoying a life while my young mother was prematurely murdered because he was a selfish person and very unhealthy person," Gerth said.
Gross, who has dual citizenship in the United States and Israel, was visiting his mother at the time of her slaying. Since then, Gross
has returned to Israel, retained an attorney and invoked his right to not speak with detectives.
Gerth said she last spoke to her brother about nine months after their mother's death was ruled a homicide and evidence pointed at him.
"I told him I knew that he murdered my mother and that I wanted nothing to do with him," she said. His response she said was, "I'm sorry you've had a change a heart."
He showed no remorse, no regret nor any signs of pain for what had happened, she added.
Authorities have not officially released the manner in which Gross was killed.
Her son will have to be extradited from Israel in order to be brought to Manatee County and face charges.
Gerth, however, doesn't think she will get closure from his being held accountable, she said.
"An arrest warrant and the ultimate arrest of my brother is not going to bring my mother back," Gerth said. "I would really like to turn the wheels of life back and have my mother."
Money is believed to be the motivation for the homicide.
"My brother was unraveling financially, had been unraveling financially for many years," said Gerth, who is eight years his junior. "He killed my mother."
She added her belief that the killing was premeditated.
The unforgiving sister recalled her mother lovingly as compassionate, fun-loving woman who still had many good years left to live.
"My mother was my best friend," she said.
Her feelings for brother have now changed to disgust, disbelief and hurt that she said she could not describe.
"I once had a brother that I trusted, that I believed in and respected," Gerth said.
Her father had died only 15 months before her mother was killed. Following his death, her mother was spending even more time with her and her family, Gerth said.
Thomas Gross had come to visit because their father, Dr. Samuel Gross, was being honored for his cancer research at Shands, a medical center in Gainesville.
Totality of evidence
The sheriff's office would not release details of the it, but said the arrest warrant came as a result of the totality of evidence uncovered during the investigation, spokesman Dave Bristow said.
Among the evidence collected after Gross' death were telephone calls, neighborhood surveillance video and DNA.
A search of her home in the hours after her death resulted in the confiscation of Thomas Gross's Israeli and U.S. passports and other items, including two cell phones, a suitcase, two broken shower curtain rings from the kitchen garbage, five towels from the garage floor near Gross's body, two computers, and a knife from the garage. Her 2010 Honda CRV was taken.
Gerth said she is grateful for the efforts of detectives, who continued to work on the case over the years.
"The Manatee County Sheriff's Office has performed in a stellar fashion," she said. "These are incredibly committed, compassionate people."
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.