Police on Sunday arrested a man who stands accused of murdering his mother, in a step toward his extradition to the US to stand trial.
In January 2012, Thomas Joseph Gross, now 63, allegedly gave his mother Ina, 78, sleeping pills, put her into her car in the garage of her Lakewood Ranch, Florida, home and then stabbed her to death with a knife.
The next morning, he called the emergency services, saying he had found his mother’s body in the garage. A knife was found next to her corpse.
Gross, who has dual Israeli and US citizenship, had visited with his mother shortly before her death to attend a memorial service for his late father, who had died of cancer two years earlier.
The Manatee County sheriff’s office issued a warrant for his arrest in July 2014.
He lives in the coastal city of Herzliya with his wife and young daughter — he has two sons from a previous marriage — and it was there that Israel’s international police unit and officers from the Yarkon district arrested him.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked instructed state prosecutors to bring Gross before a district court for a ruling that he would be extradited, a statement from the prosecution said. He was brought before a Jerusalem District Court judge on Monday and remanded for eight days.
Gross’s lawyer, Eyal Besserglick, told the Ynet news site, “My client was released by the authorities after an investigation in the US, without any conditions. His passport was returned to him and they told him there was no suspicion against him.”
He claimed that Gross had tried to resuscitate his mother and later undertook a lie detector test that decisively backed up his version.
“Despite having a lawyer in the US, he’s never been told that he is needed for an inquiry. The center of his life — his wife and daughter — is in Israel and we will fight [to prove] that there is no justification for his extradition.”
Gross’s sister Ellen Gerth, who has not spoken to him since he became a person of interest in their mother’s death, has said she believes he killed her for money. She has set up a campaign called the inagrossjusticeproject.
For decades, Gerth said, her parents gave loans to Thomas, who was in financial distress. “My brother was unraveling financially, had been unraveling financially for many years,” she said.
The Mail online quoted from court documents to report in January that Gross had received $690,645 in loans from his mother by the time of her death.
Gerth has filed several lawsuits pertaining to her parents’ estate in an effort to keep Gross from getting any proceeds.
“He could spare his family an enormous amount of shame and the burden they will have to bear for the rest of their lives if he would turn himself in — if he would confront his demons and admit to his family that he murdered our mother and that the charade is over,” she said.