Father of murdered son opposes parole for ‘crossbow killer’

Petition started to keep one of "crossbow killers" in prison

BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - The Ohio Parole Board proposed release of a convicted murderer this week, prompting the victim’s family start a petition against it.

Melissa Grasa was convicted in 1994 of the aggravated murder of Mike Grasa.

Mike Grasa’s father, who shares his son’s name, says the murder was the result of a plot organized by Melissa, who was Mike Jr.‘s wife, and her boyfriend and co-conspirator, Ronald Branham in December 1993. The murder happened in Liberty Township.

The duo has sometimes been called ‘the crossbow killers.'

Grasa Sr.‘s response to those who ask him how much time he believes Melissa should serve is equally wry and macabre.

“My answer is when my son comes here for dinner, she can get out of prison. No problem,” he told FOX19 NOW Friday.

He explains what happened the night of the murder: “When Mike went to bed, Melissa went down and told Ronald Branham, who was a co-defendant in this, to come on up (...) So he came up and went into the bedroom and shot Mike with a crossbow in the head.

“According to trial witnesses, Mike was actually trying to pull the arrow and mumbling incoherently.”

Then, according to Grasa Sr., Branham returned to Melissa down the hall to tell her Mike wasn’t dead. “She told him to go back and shoot him again.”

The parole board letter says Grasa Sr. has 30 days to file a petition. He says he filed it an hour after he got it.

Because of COVID-19, he says they were not able to present their case as they have done in the past.

“Usually we have six or seven people in the room. We can express ourselves and show the passion and the anger and everything else. Now, you are only allowed a few people ,and it’s on the telephone,” Grasa Sr. explained. “That takes the whole human element of it out. It’s not there anymore.”

Melissa did write Grasa Sr. a letter. It reads in part:

“I am not writing this letter to beg for your forgiveness. I do hope that someday you can or will forgive, but I want that for you. For your well-being. Nor am I writing this to offer an explanation of what transpired. I write this because I want to apologize.”

Asked what he would say to Melissa now, Grasa Sr. replied: “I would say you are exactly where you belong. You can talk to your kids, your grand kids,. and we can’t talk to Mike at all. So staying in prison the rest of your life? That was the trade.”

It remains unclear when Melissa Grasa’s next hearing will be.

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