- January 11, 2015
An Israeli man has been arrested for the 2012 murder of a Lakewood Ranch resident.
On Dec. 10, Israeli authorities arrested 63-year-old Thomas Gross, a dual U.S. and Israeli citizen, for the murder of his mother, Ina Gross. Thomas Gross will be extradited to Manatee County to face his murder charge, officials said.
Thomas Gross was charged in Ina Gross' murder in July 2014. He maintained his innocence in a 2015 interview with the Observer.
“I didn’t do it, nor was I in any way, shape or form involved,” Gross said in a phone interview on Jan. 13, 2015.
Ina Gross was found dead in her garage in the Riverwalk Hammock community on Jan. 9, 2012. Thomas Gross had been visiting the United States from his home in Israel and staying with his mother at the time of her death. He was labeled a "person of interest" by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office beginning in May 2012.
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dave Bristow said the sheriff’s office is aware of the situation, but declined comment. It is unclear at this time how long the extradition process will take.
U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Nicole Navas Oxman also declined comment on the case but referenced department extradition procedures, which state once foreign authorities notify the American Embassy that the fugitive is ready to be surrendered. The Office of Internal Affairs will inform the prosecutor and arrange with the United States Marshals Service for agents to escort the fugitive to the United States.
What Manatee County Sheriff’s Office officials initially called a “suspicious death” involving Ina Gross was confirmed as a homicide Jan. 10, 2012 following a Jan. 9 autopsy. It was the first recorded homicide in Lakewood Ranch.
Ina Gross, 78, was found dead at 5:37 a.m. Jan. 9, in her garage in the 11000 block of Hyacinth Place in Riverwalk Hammock. Her son, Thomas Gross, discovered her body, a Sheriff’s Office report said. Deputies arrived to find Ina Ross on the floor of her garage.
The news rocked the ordinarily quiet Lakewood Ranch street, and neighbors remembered Ina Gross as a kind, caring person who loved her dog, Nicky.
She was active in supporting local charities, and an active member of the Lakewood Ranch Dog Park. She also was involved at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, where she was a member of the Lifelong Learning Academy.