A fraternity brother who claimed to offer “counseling” to depressed students was actually encouraging them to commit suicide, a new lawsuit in Missouri claims.
According to the Kansas City Star, the parents of two Truman University students and fraternity brothers who took their own lives have named Brandon Grossheim, the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity, and the university in a lawsuit claiming that Grossheim encouraged the suicides of Alexander David Mullins and Joshua Michael Thomas, along with three others: an unnamed male who was a member of the fraternity, an unnamed male who socialized with the three other young men who took their own lives, and an unnamed female whose death is reportedly still under investigation.
The Kansas City Star obtained court filings stating that all four of the men died by hanging, and Mullins and Thomas both hanged themselves at the fraternity house. The lawsuit alleges that Grossheim advised the men to commit suicide, wore the clothes of one shortly after he died, and began dating one of the deceased’s girlfriends after his death.
The parents’ attorney Nicole Gorovsky told the Kansas City Star that Grossheim was friends will all five of the students who died between 2016 and 2017. She said that Grossheim referred to himself as a the “peacemaker” and saw himself as some kind of superhero.
The lawyer told the newspaper that Grossheim told police that he “counseled people and gave advice and step-by-step directions to people on how to ‘deal with depression and do their own free will.’” According to the lawyer and the lawsuit, his “directions” allegedly included advice on how to commit suicide. Gorovsky told the newspaper that an investigation found that Grossheim had keys to the apartments or rooms of all five students who died and was among the last to either see or speak to each of them before they took their own lives.
The lawsuit reportedly cites other fraternity brothers who were concerned about Grossheim and his purported fascination with death. Grossheim has reportedly left the school without graduating but he was not kicked out.
According to the Kansas City Star, local police noticed a pattern in the suicide deaths but were unable to determine what was behind the pattern.
“In over 39 years in this business, all of which have been in college towns by choice, this series of events is very unusual and concerning at any number of levels,” Kirkville Police Chief Jim Hughes told the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 2017, after police had re-opened the case.
Gorovsky reportedly claimed that Grossheim had been given a lie detector test which showed some deception, but it does not appear that he was ever charged in connection to any of the suicides. The report also says that the circumstances of the female’s death are unknown.
The parents of the students are seeking monetary damages in an amount that is expected to be determined by a jury. According to Fox 43, the university released a statement denying any wrongdoing.
“We strongly disagree with the allegations and will defend the suit vigorously,” the statement reads.
Fox 43 also reportedly spoke with Grossheim’s mother, who said her son was “devastated” by the deaths of his friends and that the allegations against him are not true.
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Feature image: Brandon Grossheim/Facebook; Truman University/Wikimedia