MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A grandson is appealing for the public’s help in an 18-year-old cold case: the shooting of his 82-year-old grandmother in 1998.
“It really was very vicious,” said the grandson Michael Grabis. “I can’t think of anything more vicious.”
It was January 27th of 1998 when Miami police say Milda Grabis was shot by a burglar who broke in through a back door at the duplex that she owned at 1210 SW 25th Ave. She was shot near the mouth as she lay in bed and her home was ransacked. It’s not known what was taken, but her grandson says one piece of jewelry was stolen.
In a public appeal with Miami police inside their headquarters, Michael Grabis told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “She was in bed. He shot her in the mouth and left her for dead. She did survive but she was never the same. She was bedridden but she was never able to speak again. She could not eat food naturally again.”
After she was hospitalized, Milda Grabis was taken to an assisted living facility. Nineteen months after she was shot, she died of cardiac arrest.
Ironically, her grandson says she fled Latvia in 1950 during the Soviet occupation in order to avoid violence. She came to the U.S. as a widow with her two sons who she raised by herself while working as a caterer. Her grandson has been devoted to solving this case.
“It would mean a lot to me and the community to know that justice was served,” said Grabis. “What troubles me is the lack of humanity in this situation. This was a woman who was very independent and who was going about her life, who was a beloved mother and grandmother of 8 children.”
He said his grandmother would also take in and care for older friends who needed health care and medical help.
“She would take care of them until they died. She was just a very giving person,” said Grabis. “For this to happen, especially at her home in her bed, I can’t think of a more invasive violation of human rights.”
Det. Rolando Garcia said there was no match for numerous fingerprints that were found.
“As far as DNA,” he said, “we had numerous samples taken back then, which wasn’t the technology of now but still, no hits have come back. It really is out of the ordinary. There really was no need to have shot her or harmed her, unless perhaps there was a struggle.”
Some people have lived in Grabis’s neighborhood for decades. Police hope a witness or someone who lives there will remember something useful that can help solve this case.
Anyone with information should call Miami police or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477). There is a reward of up to $3,000.