A death-obsessed Missouri frat-bro gave five of his peers “advice on how to commit suicide” — and manipulated them into killing themselves, claims a new lawsuit filed by parents of two of the students.
Brandon Grossheim, a member of Truman State University’s Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity, considered himself a “superhero” named “Peacemaker” and allegedly gave other students detailed instructions on how to “deal with their depression” and “do their own free will,” according to the wrongful death suit filed Wednesday.
All five of the students, who died during the 2016-17 school year, were friends with Grossman, says the suit, filed in Circuit Court of Adair County, Missouri, and reported by The Kansas City Star.
The suit names two of the alleged victims, both who died by hanging, Alexander David Mullins, who was found in his room at the frat house and Joshua Michael Thomas, who was found in a storage closet.
Grossheim was also linked to the suicides of three others, John Doe 1, another frat member, John Doe 2, who socialized with the others but was not a student at Truman State and a woman referred to as Jane Doe, whose death is still under investigation.
No charges have been filed in any of the deaths.
Attorney Nicole Gorovsky told the paper that Grossheim’s “psychological manipulation” contributed to the suicides.
A Kirksville Police investigation into the unusual spate of suicides — the town has 17,000 residents and the university just 7,000 students — found that Grossheim had access to all five students, including keys to their rooms or apartments, Gorovsky said.
He was the last person to talk to each of them before their deaths.
Frat brothers told police Grossheim “had a known fascination with death, wore the clothing of one of the suicide victims after his death” and “began dating Doe 1’s girlfriend shortly after his death, according to the lawsuit.
The suit, which also names Truman State University and the fraternity, says the school knew Mullins and Thomas struggled with depression and “were vulnerable” but still allowed “a suspicious fraternity brother to be alone and have unfettered access” to them.
“This tragedy was preventable,” Gorovsky said. “This situation had been swept under the rug.”
Grossheim now lives in Alton, Illinois and didn’t graduate from the university though “he was not kicked out,” Gorovsky said.
The parents, Melissa Bottorff-Arey and Suzanne and Michael Thomas, are seeking monetary compensation to be determined by a jury.
The claims detailed in the lawsuit are reminiscent of the high-profile suicide-by-text case of Michelle Carter, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter last year for pressuring her boyfriend Conrad Roy II,18, to kill himself via texts in 2014.
Carter, 22, is currently serving a 15-month prison sentence.
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