Paralyzed in Paradise

Just when things couldn't get any worse for Heather GrossmanĖthey did

And she worried all the time about what would happen to the kids.

Cathy Danzinger worked for the Grossmans from April 2000 to February 2001. She tells New Times she ultimately quit her job after the police told her she was in danger; she says John suspected that she had called Child Protective Services to report him (she says she hadn't) and she was afraid he would harm her. Danzinger had also gone to the state nursing board twice, she says, to ask for advice; both times she was told to leave her job, that her safety was in jeopardy.

Danzinger says John abused the kids both physically and verbally.

Heather on her wedding day with John's father, Bud, and stepmother, Beverly.
Heather on her wedding day with John's father, Bud, and stepmother, Beverly.

"A lot of slapping, a lot of hitting, a lot of rough playing . . . where he would use his knuckles," she remembers.

The children would often cry. Danzinger tried to pick up after the kids, to keep them from getting in trouble with John.

"They couldn't have musical instruments, he would take their stereos away from them, he would take their GameBoys away from them."

When she could, Danzinger put the kids to bed, hugging them and stroking their hair. She got them up in the morning, hoping to get the day off to a smooth start without incurring John's wrath.

"They went to bed in fear and they woke up in fear, the same way that Heather did," she says.

Terrie Vevea, a childhood friend of Heather's (and maid of honor at her wedding to John) who visited the Grossmans in Paradise Valley, recalls similar behavior. She says she didn't witness John physically abusing Heather, but saw other behavior she found childish and abusive.

One time John came in from cooking on the barbecue, and got upset because the potato chips had been put away. He berated Heather for putting them away without asking first if he wanted any.

Heather apologized profusely.

"His remark was, You're always sorry, Heather,'" Vevea recalls. "Not having your chips out is not that big of a deal. That's the piece that was weird about it."

She says the children were clearly very frightened of John, that he would often tell them they were "acting like a Samuels" -- like their father.

Danzinger says she heard similar comments. "When they would do something he thought was wrong . . . he would always say that, to their face, You're just like your father, you're no good. And maybe I should send you to the prison to see your father and maybe they'll keep you.'"

Eventually, Vevea stopped visiting, later admitting to Heather that she didn't feel comfortable around John.

Danzinger says she hated coming to work from the beginning, but she did it for Heather. The two became close, spending hours alone at night, during which Heather would confide her fears and depression. It took Danzinger almost a year to persuade Heather to call her mother; the nurse believed John had lied to Heather when he told her that her parents didn't want to be around her.

"We did come to find out from her parents that John all but chased them off in Colorado," Danzinger says.

The first time they called Florence Stephens, Danzinger recalls, John was out of town. Other times, Danzinger would turn out all the lights so that John couldn't watch Heather make the call. He often monitored her activities with video cameras he had installed in her living quarters.

In the initial phone call -- sometime in 2001 -- Heather just told her mother she missed her. "She had no idea where I was or what was going on and I really just talked to her, you know, I miss you and I wish I could see you.' I didn't say anything about how John was treating me or the kids. I didn't want her to worry."

The Stephenses say they had had no idea where Heather and the kids had been. Slowly, Heather let on that she was unhappy, and her parents started calling the nurses and asking them what was going on. A few months later, in August 2001, when John was out of town for a few days, Florence flew out to Arizona.

John later found out about the visit, when Heather's daughter slipped and mentioned it, and he yelled at her.

By early 2002, Heather had made up her mind to leave John. She called her parents and asked for money for a divorce lawyer.

In June 2002, just days before Heather and her parents had planned to have John served with an order of protection, John locked Heather, her daughter and her nurse in Heather's living quarters. Heather needed bottled water to take her pills, and the nurse, Denise Foster, called him on the intercom, begging for water. John refused, according to police interviews with Heather and Foster, and later returned with a five-gallon bottle, which he shoved in the room without a dispenser. Again, Foster asked for water and a glass. Again, John refused. Ultimately, she called 911; John hung up the phone, but the call went through.

The police came. The nurses were terrified. Foster later told police, according to reports, that she didn't want John arrested; she was afraid he would come back and kill Heather and the children.

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I got home from work and turned the T-V on, which happened to be on Investigative Discovery..... I thought she looked familiar, and then they said her name.  My jaw dropped....Ok seriously, I'm freaking out a bit.  I dated her stepson during this period and actually was a part of their move to AZ.  I'll make this long story short. I witnessed first hand how crazy John Grossman was.... He got in my face while I was there.  Now over a decade later,  I finally feel some sort of validation.  No one believed or supported me when I was going through the short lived abusive relationship with the son of John Grossman. I only dated Matt for three month's.  He was an abusive boyfriend verbally, emotionally and physically.  Now I understand where he learned this behavior.  He strangled me while I was driving on the 5 freeway and he hit me in our apt (yes our apt I moved in after 1 month).  I want to take this opportunity to say F*&K you San Diego Police dept and anyone else that didn't believe or support me.  Hindsight is 20/20. Our roommate walked in on Matt abusing my cat's and he told me.  I moved out the next day. What doesn't kill you does make you stronger.  I am STRONG!


heather is so sweet, she's so gorgeus....

Terry C
Terry C

Poor girl. She sure had a penchant for picking the wrong men.

Makes me glad I am divorced and making it on my own.


Wow, I have a 13 year old son from my first marriage. My 2nd husband calls him an idiot, moron, loser, etc...Emotionally and verbally abuses him from sun up to sun down.Nevermind what he does to me. He calls me a fat ass, bitch, coo-coo. We have a 4 year old and a 1 year old together now. I hate myself for bringing children into a marriage with a father who berates, verbally abuses, emotionally abuses, and uses all 3 of these boys to make fun of and call their mom names. I worry my 13 year old will commit suicide. I wake up to my husband EVERY DAY slamming doors and being extremly hostile to my and my oldest son. Even my 4 year old just wants to me around me. I find myself trying to avoid this man whenever and however possible. I don't have the finances or education to raise 3 boys by myself. I am trapped and I HATE that my boys see this abuse on a daily basis. My husband went to therapy with me for 6 weeks and the entire practice could hear him screaming names at me for the 1 hour session. He is anxious and impulsive say the therapists. In order to not take responsibility for his actions, he tells everybody who will listen that I have some sort of mental problem and I need help. I am currently on anti-depressants and trying to muster up enough courage to leave this destructive man. Nobody we know ever sees his abuse because he ALWAYS makes sure it is done in our car or in our house. I have no witnesses. When we talked about divorce, he said "when I get through with you, you'll be lucky if you can afford a 1 bedroom apartment you dumb bitch". I wish I never re-married. I saw some very faint signs of this behavior just weeks before our wedding but never before that. I blamed it on stress of his job and school. The verbal, and mental abuse started when I was 6 mos. pregnant with our first child. We went to therapy for a few months and I really saw an improvement. That is when we decided to have another child. Things were great until he was about 6 weeks old. The abuse has tripled since then and our therapist says I am suffering from post traumatic syndrome. I wake up every 3 hours at night trying to clear my mind and just think about what to do. I count how many years I will have to endure this in order to see my kids grow up. I cannot feel anything anymore. I am numb and in survival mode. When I have an argument with my oldest son, I found myself repeating the same behavior that my husband inflicted on me. I hate what this environment has done to me and my children. My friends implore me to leave but I don't have the money for an attorney. My husband has already become violent with me by throwing household objects at me and ripping the sheets off our bed while I am in it. If I get a restraining order, it will just infuriate him and he has already taken steps to take my name off every account we have. I cannot even retain information and I am having memory problems too. I gained 10 lbs because I eat dinner after he has gone to sleep because I feel sick and nervous around him. Trying to keep him calm is a full time job. He calls everybody idiot behind their back and plays "the greatest guy" in front of everyone. I have no witnesses and no hope for any kind of future. By reading this article, I am only thankful that I am not confined to a wheelchair. Gives me something to think about.


@anonymous, you wrote this on 08/2009.  I am just wondering how are you and your children today?

Terry C
Terry C

Time to kick him to curb.

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