The Ex-Con

John Grossman

John Grossman had already served prison time for second-degree assault when Julie Monson disappeared. And in 1984, less than three years after Julie’s death, he was returned to prison for forcibly raping a 16-year-old girl.

Convicted of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy and first-degree robbery, Grossman was released from prison and paroled in March 2010. He is labeled a Level III sex offender, considered the highest risk to strike again.

In 1993, then-District Attorney James Vargason identified Grossman as the prime suspect in the Monson murder, but publicly offered no narrative of events. Vargason did, however, meet with Grossman in prison. In an interview, Vargason said Grossman gave off an air of “pure evil,” and ended their meeting when Vargason began to question him about the Monson case. Grossman has never returned reporters’ letters or telephone calls seeking comment.

Why Grossman?

Until 1993 — a dozen years after Julie Monson’s death — the public had never heard Grossman’s name. But when state Supreme Court Judge Patrick Monserrate overturned the murder conviction of Thomas Bianco, Grossman became the prime suspect.

An ex-con who’d served time at Auburn Correctional Facility for assaulting a woman with a gun, Grossman was tall and strong, matching the description given to police by William Komanecky perfectly. His car, a blue 1973 station wagon, resembled the car Komanecky identified.

Bianco’s conviction was overturned because 30 lines were deleted from the police reports turned over to the judge and Bianco’s lawyers during his trial. Amid those lines, a mention of Grossman:

1:40 p.m.  Detailed to Old Columbian Rope Company to meet Officer Malone. On arrival was shown a 1973 … station wagon 4725AAB owned by John Grossman of 15 Fort St., Auburn, NY, a real light green wagon. (not beat up, but had a few rust spots on same). Went into the American Challenger Corp, and did talk with John Grossman and he said he was living with his girlfriend at 15 Fort St. and was with her the weekend, and that he will be moving to 4 Garfield Place after the 1st of the month.  His girlfriend is Patricia Barto. Later went to Prison and did pick up photo of Grossman, an ex-con. As Sgt. Komanecky thought that this could be the man, as subject had attended CCCC.

That excerpt was enough to free Tom Bianco, and enough to convince Vargason that Grossman was the killer.


Komanecky denied ever making such a statement. In newspaper interviews given before his death, Komanecky said he didn’t know Grossman, and never uttered Grossman’s name to police. Carmen Bertonica, police chief at the time, stood by Komanecky’s recollection. Bertonica said the officers who interviewed Komanecky believed Grossman matched the description Komanecky provided. It was a case of the report not matching what actually happened, according to Bertonica.

But what about the car that so closely matched Komanecky’s description?

Though Grossman’s car was an early-70s station wagon — like the one Komanecky described — the color was light green. Komanecky originally said the car he saw Monson get into was dark blue.

But Komanecky later said he was confused; the car he originally described to police, he said, belonged to his son’s friend. And at trial, Komanecky admitted he couldn’t describe the car at all. His son, Andrew Komanecky, testified he recalled the car being a dark green Cordoba — a car more similar to Bianco’s Skylark than Grossman’s light green wagon..