Randall Houser (Courtesy: Knox County Sheriff's Office)
Laurie Pelot Gooch (Courtesy: Knox County Sheriff's Office)
Yolanda Harper (Courtesy: Knox County Sheriff's Office)
Three Knox Countians interviewed by detectives after the death of 18-year-old Henry Granju now face unrelated drug charges and possible jail time.
A Knox County grand jury indicted Yolanda Harper, Randall Houser, and Laurie Gooch for selling drugs. Gooch is the mother of the young woman Henry Granju dated at the time of his death.
More than a year ago, in April and May 2010 the Laurie Gooch told her incarcerated daughter in recorded telephone conversations Harper and Houser were dangerous and she should stay away.
"I was talking to Yolanda, I guess it doesn't matter any more since I'm in jail but she was like 'I'll give you some methadone if you'll help me sell it' so me and Henry were going to go sell it," Elizabeth Gooch told her mother.
In another phone call, Laurie warned her daughter to stay away from them.
"I do not want you to call her again. Dad fired her because she has no place in our business. If they find out you're talking to her your support is gone. That name is to never... her, she is off limits and if you don't pay attention to me and mind me on this, your support is gone. I don't want her involved in our lives. There is no other reason you should have to talk to her again," Laurie Gooch said.
Now, a year and a half later, the older Gooch faces charges along with both Randall Houser and Yolanda Harper.
The phone conversation wasn't deemed enough evidence to warrant charges in Henry Granju's case but the Knoxville Police Department had an investigation of their own.
That KPD case is what resulted in Tuesday's indictments.
Katie Granju, Henry Granju's mother says the drug charges are a long time coming.
"I know from what my son told me and from what I tried to tell investigators is that these people are drug dealers," Granju said. "Their particular target was much younger, at-risk adolescents in our communities. So no, I'm not surprised. I'm in awe of the of the work the Knoxville Police Department did."
Granju holds out hope there will someday be criminal charges in the case directly tied to the death of her son.
A trio of Knox County residents who were all interviewed in connection with the high profile death of Henry Granju now face several drug related indictments after a Knoxville Police Department investigation.
Yolanda Harper, Randall Houser, and Laurie Gooch were among several people the Knox County Sheriff's Office interviewed as part of the investigation into 18-year-old Henry Granju's death. Tuesday, the Knoxville Police Department arrested all three after a grand jury returned indictments related to alleged drug activity.
According to a release issued late Tuesday by Knoxville Police, Yolanda Meza Harper, 37, faces five felony counts of sale and delivery of schedule II drugs - specifically Methadone and Adderall. Police allege one of those sales happened in a school zone, one happened in a child care zone, and another happened in a park zone. Those factors could result in additional penalties, if proved.
Randall Ray Houser, 40, is charged with one felony count of sale and delivery of Adderall.
Laurie Pelot Gooch, 50, faces three felony counts of sale and delivery of Oxycodone.
None of the charges are related to Henry Granju, and all the alleged crimes apparently took place after his death. The release from the Knox County Police Department does not mention Granju, but does say the arrests "stem from several interrelated investigations over the past year."
Granju died in May 2010 at the age of 18. The medical examiner found Granju's death was caused by a brain injury sparked by a drug overdose. The high school senior also suffered a number of other injuries that included blunt trauma to his chest. His death, and its impact on his family, were the subject of the WBIR-TV documentary "Henry's Story."
Granju was in the home shared by Randall Houser and Yolanda Harper, two of the people arrested on drug charges Tuesday, when he became unresponsive due to the overdose and was taken to the hospital. He died a month later from complications.
According to the Knox County Sheriff's file on the case, Harper says she met Granju through Elizabeth Gooch, Henry's girlfriend in spring 2010. Gooch's mother, Laurie, was among those indicted and arrested Tuesday. The file also says Harper and the elder Gooch met while working at the dental clinic run by Gooch's father, Reuben Pelot III. Dr. Pelot is the husband of former Knoxville City Councilwoman Barbara Pelot.
Granju's mother, Katie, is a high-profile blogger who previously worked for WBIR-TV. She has written extensively about her son's death, calling for a further investigation and homicide or drug charges, specifically naming Harper and Houser as potential targets of those charges.
However, more than a year after Henry Granju's death, the Knox County District Attorney and the Knox County Sheriff's Office released Granju's case file to the public and declared they did not feel there was sufficient evidence to charge anyone in his death.
Tuesday afternoon, Katie Granju praised the Knoxville Police Department for its work.
"We have real heroes in the Knoxville Police Department. They are heroes. They did very brave, scary work with scary dangerous people and put themselves at risk to make this happen," Katie Granju said. "Today is a day for our community to be happy that three major drug traffickers are off the street and out of our neighborhoods."
Katie Granju had filed a civil suit against Harper, Houser, and a methadone clinic. She tells 10 News she decided more than a month ago not to pursue any of those civil claims, after she learned the drug investigation was underway. She is still hopeful homicide charges will eventually be filed in connection with her son's death.
A fourth person, 28-year-old Kasie Westmoreland Robinson, was indicted on one felony drug count alongside Harper, Houser, and Gooch. Robinson is not mentioned in the file released by the Knox County Sheriff's Office, and Katie Granju says she knows of no connection between Robinson and her son.