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A convicted rapist is charged with murder in the killing of a Connecticut visiting nurse

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A convicted rapist is charged with murder in the killing of a Connecticut visiting nurse
News

News

A convicted rapist is charged with murder in the killing of a Connecticut visiting nurse

2024-04-20 05:04 Last Updated At:05:10

A convicted rapist was charged with murder and attempted sexual assault Friday in the killing of a visiting nurse at a Connecticut halfway house for sex offenders in October — a crime that spurred calls for better safety measures for home health care workers.

Authorities added the charges against Michael Reese, 39, as he appeared in state court in Danielson for a related larceny and drug paraphernalia case. Police arrested him on those allegations as he was leaving the Willimantic halfway house on the day when Joyce Grayson was found dead in the basement on Oct. 28. Officers said Reese had some of Grayson's possessions on him.

Grayson, a 63-year-old mother of six and a nurse for 36 years, had gone to the house to administer medication to Reese. Police responded there when someone reported she had missed later appointments.

Reese was charged with murder, felony murder and attempted first-degree sexual assault, according to the court clerk's office. Additional details of the allegations were not immediately available.

Reese's public defender did not immediately return phone and emails messages seeking comment Friday.

Grayson's family was relieved that the murder charge was filed, said their lawyer, Kelly Reardon.

“They would like to thank the police for gathering the evidence needed to, hopefully, ensure that Michael Reese is convicted of this horrific and senseless crime,” Reardon said in a statement.

New details of the killing emerged Friday with the release of the arrest warrant for Reese. Grayson was strangled and was found naked from the waist down, except for her socks, according to the warrant. She also had blunt-force injuries to her head, torso and extremities, the warrant said, citing an autopsy by the chief medical examiner's office.

Testing also showed that DNA found on Grayson's body was highly likely Reese's DNA, the warrant said.

Grayson's daughter called police to request a well-being check after Grayson missed some appointments after Reese, the warrant said. The daughter said she used a phone location app and it said Grayson was at the address of the halfway house, according to the document.

Police also said the Department of Correction recorded phone calls Reese made while detained on the larceny and drug paraphernalia charges that appear to implicate him in the killing.

“Basically, bro, it was a robbery gone wrong, bro. A robbery gone accident, that's it,” Reese said on one of the calls, according to the warrant.

In another phone conversation, Reese said he had started using drugs again and it led him to do “what happened," the warrant said. He also said that he would take a plea bargain, according to the document.

“I'm going to take the first offer that they give me as long as the charges are right,” he said, according to the warrant. “I don't care, like, I'm, I've already come to terms that this is it for me.”

Grayson was a nurse for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for 26 years before serving as a visiting nurse for over a decade, according to her family. She also was a beloved foster parent, taking in nearly three dozen children and being honored with the state’s Foster Parent of the Year award in 2017.

After her death, state and federal lawmakers renewed pushes to prevent violence against health care workers.

Reese, who was on probation after serving more than 14 years in prison for stabbing and sexually assaulting a woman in 2006 in New Haven, was taken into police custody while leaving the halfway house on the day Grayson was killed. He was released from prison in late 2020 and was sent back to detention two times for violating probation, state records show.

Authorities said he had some of Grayson’s belongings, including credit cards, and was charged with violating probation, larceny and using drug paraphernalia.

The warrant said he drove Grayson's car to a bank and a local convenience store and used Grayson's debit card to withdraw more than $400 before returning to the house and getting arrested. Police said surveillance video showed Reese at the bank and store, and his GPS monitoring device for his probation showed him near those locations at the same times.

A judge on Friday set bail at $2 million on the new charges. Reese has been detained on bail since his arrest. He is due back in court on June 7.

Reardon said Grayson's family, who believe her death was preventable, will soon be filing a lawsuit. She declined to name the defendants, but has said the family is seeking answers to an array of questions including if there were failures of oversight of Reese by the state, including probation officials, and the company that runs the halfway house.

The state Judicial Branch, which oversees probation, says it does not comment on cases involving possible litigation.

The family also wants to know whether Grayson's employer, Elara Caring, adequately protected her. Elara's chairman and chief executive, Scott Powers, has said company workers were shocked and saddened over Grayson's death, and the company was reviewing existing safety protocols.

FILE - Reach House, a halfway house for sex offenders, sits atop a small hill, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023 in Willimantic, Conn. Michael Reese, a convicted rapist, was charged with murder and attempted sexual assault Friday, April 19, 2024, in the killing of a visiting nurse at the Connecticut halfway house for sex offenders in October. (AP Photo/Pat Eaton Robb, File)

FILE - Reach House, a halfway house for sex offenders, sits atop a small hill, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023 in Willimantic, Conn. Michael Reese, a convicted rapist, was charged with murder and attempted sexual assault Friday, April 19, 2024, in the killing of a visiting nurse at the Connecticut halfway house for sex offenders in October. (AP Photo/Pat Eaton Robb, File)

FILE - Tracy Wodatch, from Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home, places a candle next to a photo of Joyce Grayson during the lighting of the candles at a vigil for Grayson at the Connecticut State Capitol's North Lobby on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. , in Hartford, Conn. Michael Reese, a convicted rapist, was charged with murder and attempted sexual assault Friday, April 19, 2024, in the killing of Grayson, a visiting nurse at a Connecticut halfway house for sex offenders in October. (Aaron Flaum/Hartford Courant via AP, File)

FILE - Tracy Wodatch, from Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home, places a candle next to a photo of Joyce Grayson during the lighting of the candles at a vigil for Grayson at the Connecticut State Capitol's North Lobby on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. , in Hartford, Conn. Michael Reese, a convicted rapist, was charged with murder and attempted sexual assault Friday, April 19, 2024, in the killing of Grayson, a visiting nurse at a Connecticut halfway house for sex offenders in October. (Aaron Flaum/Hartford Courant via AP, File)

FILE - This undated photo provided by the Connecticut Department of Corrections shows. Michael Reese, a convicted rapist who was charged with murder and attempted sexual assault Friday, April 19, 2024, in the killing of a visiting nurse at a Connecticut halfway house for sex offenders in October. (Connecticut Department of Corrections via AP, File)

FILE - This undated photo provided by the Connecticut Department of Corrections shows. Michael Reese, a convicted rapist who was charged with murder and attempted sexual assault Friday, April 19, 2024, in the killing of a visiting nurse at a Connecticut halfway house for sex offenders in October. (Connecticut Department of Corrections via AP, File)

FILE - This undated photo provided by Kyle Ellsworth shows Joyce Grayson. Michael Reese, a convicted rapist, was charged with murder and attempted sexual assault Friday, April 19, 2024, in the killing of Grayson, a visiting nurse at a Connecticut halfway house for sex offenders in October. (Kyle Ellsworth via AP)

FILE - This undated photo provided by Kyle Ellsworth shows Joyce Grayson. Michael Reese, a convicted rapist, was charged with murder and attempted sexual assault Friday, April 19, 2024, in the killing of Grayson, a visiting nurse at a Connecticut halfway house for sex offenders in October. (Kyle Ellsworth via AP)

Israel's foreign minister accused Spain of “being complicit in inciting genocide against Jews and war crimes” on Tuesday. Spain, Norway and Ireland moved to formally recognize a Palestinian state on Tuesday in a coordinated effort by the three western European nations designed to add international pressure on Israel to soften its devastating response to last year’s Hamas-led attack.

The diplomatic move has no immediate impact on the war in Gaza, but adds to international pressure on Israel to soften its devastating response to October’s Hamas-led attack.

Israeli strikes on Rafah overnight killed at least 16 Palestinians, first responders said Tuesday, as residents reported an escalation of fighting in the southern Gaza city.

Over the weekend, an Israeli airstrike hit a tent camp in a western part of Rafah, causing a large fire and killing at least 45 people, according to health officials. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged a “tragic mishap” had occurred. The strike only added to the surging international criticism Israel has faced over its war with Hamas, with even its closest allies expressing outrage at civilian deaths. Israel insists it adheres to international law even as it faces scrutiny in the world’s top courts, one of which last week demanded that it halt the offensive in Rafah.

In the past two weeks, more than a million Palestinians fled Rafah as Israeli forces pressed deeper into the city. People displaced by fighting lack shelter, food, water and other essentials for survival, the U.N. says. Israel says it needs to invade Rafah to destroy Hamas militants’ last stronghold.

Israeli bombardments and ground offensives in Gaza have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israel launched its war in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more.

Currently:

— Israeli strikes kill 16 in Rafah, medics say, as residents report heavy fighting.

— Netanyahu says deadly Israeli strike in Rafah over the weekend was the result of a "tragic mishap."

— As Israel attacks Rafah, Palestinians are living in tents and scrounging for food.

— Spain’s prime minister says its Cabinet will recognize a Palestinian state as the EU rift with Israel widens.

— An Israeli strike in southern Lebanon kills 2 people near a hospital, officials say.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

Here's the latest:

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Israeli strikes on Rafah have killed at least 16 Palestinians overnight, first responders said Tuesday, as residents reported an escalation of fighting in the southern Gaza city.

An Israeli incursion launched earlier this month has caused nearly 1 million to flee from Rafah, most of whom have already been displaced in the war between Israel and Hamas, and who are now seeking refuge in squalid tent camps and war-ravaged areas.

The latest strikes occurred in the same area where Israel targeted what it said was a Hamas compound on Sunday night. That strike ignited a fire in a camp for displaced Palestinians and killed at least 45 people, according to local health officials, sparking worldwide outrage.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there was a “tragic mishap” on Sunday and the military said it was investigating.

The latest strikes killed a total of 16 people in the Tel al-Sultan neighborhood in northwest Rafah, according to the Palestinian Civil Defense and the Palestinian Red Crescent.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway on Tuesday formally recognized a Palestinian state with the Scandinavian foreign minister calling it “a milestone in the relationship between Norway and Palestine.”

Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said “the recognition is a strong expression of support for moderate forces in both countries.”

However, “it is regrettable that the Israeli government shows no signs of engaging constructively,” Barth Eide said. “The international community must increase its political and economic support for Palestine and continue the work for a two-state solution.”

Last week, Norway, along with Spain and Ireland, said in a coordinated effort that they were recognizing a Palestinian state.

MADRID — Spain moved to formally recognize a Palestinian state with Ireland and Norway to follow suit on Tuesday in a coordinated effort by the three western European nations. Israel slammed the diplomatic move that will have no immediate impact on its grinding war in Gaza but adds to international pressure to soften its devastating response to October’s Hamas-led attack.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Spain of “being complicit in inciting genocide against Jews and war crimes” and told the country that its consulate in Jerusalem will not be allowed to help Palestinians.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who announced his country’s decision before parliament last week, has spent months touring European and Middle Eastern countries to garner support for recognition and a cease-fire in Gaza.

Relations between the EU and Israel nosedived Monday, the eve of the diplomatic recognition EU members Ireland and Spain, with Madrid insisting that sanctions should be considered against Israel for its continued deadly attacks in southern Gaza’s city of Rafah.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran’s parliament reelected hard-liner Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf on Tuesday as its speaker, reaffirming its hard-right makeup in the wake of a helicopter crash that killed the country’s president and foreign minister.

Of 287 lawmakers voting Tuesday, 198 backed Qalibaf to retain the position he first took in 2021. He initially became speaker following a string of failed presidential bids and 12 years as the leader of Iran’s capital city. Many, however, know Qalibaf for his support as a Revolutionary Guard general for a violent crackdown on Iranian university students in 1999. He also reportedly ordered live gunfire to be used against Iranian students in 2003 while serving as the country’s police chief.

Smoke billows after an explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Smoke billows after an explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

An Israeli Apache helicopter fires a missile towards the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

An Israeli Apache helicopter fires a missile towards the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Customers stand in a restaurant while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez appears on a television broadcast in Rivas Vaciamadrid, Spain, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says the Spanish Cabinet will recognize a Palestinian state at its Tuesday morning meeting as a European Union rift with Israel widens. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Customers stand in a restaurant while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez appears on a television broadcast in Rivas Vaciamadrid, Spain, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says the Spanish Cabinet will recognize a Palestinian state at its Tuesday morning meeting as a European Union rift with Israel widens. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Children light candles during a march against Israel and in solidarity with Palestinians in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, on the Mediterranean Sea corniche in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, May 27, 2024. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged Monday that a "tragic mistake" had been made after an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah set fire to a tent camp housing displaced Palestinians and killed at least 45 people, according to local officials. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Children light candles during a march against Israel and in solidarity with Palestinians in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, on the Mediterranean Sea corniche in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, May 27, 2024. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged Monday that a "tragic mistake" had been made after an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah set fire to a tent camp housing displaced Palestinians and killed at least 45 people, according to local officials. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Mourners shout slogans as they carry the coffins of Hezbollah commanders Hussein Youssef Salleh and Rafik Hassan Qassem, who were killed by an Israeli strike, during their funeral procession in Aita al-Shaab village, south Lebanon, Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zaatari)

Mourners shout slogans as they carry the coffins of Hezbollah commanders Hussein Youssef Salleh and Rafik Hassan Qassem, who were killed by an Israeli strike, during their funeral procession in Aita al-Shaab village, south Lebanon, Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zaatari)

A picture of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah sits on a house previously destroyed in an Israeli strike, in Aita al-Shaab village, south Lebanon, Monday, May 27, 2024. The Arabic on flag reads: "Oh Hussein." (AP Photo/Mohammad Zaatari)

A picture of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah sits on a house previously destroyed in an Israeli strike, in Aita al-Shaab village, south Lebanon, Monday, May 27, 2024. The Arabic on flag reads: "Oh Hussein." (AP Photo/Mohammad Zaatari)

Protesters clash with troops and riot police during a demonstration near the Egyptian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, May 27, 2024, in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and demanding the Egyptian authorities open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Protesters clash with troops and riot police during a demonstration near the Egyptian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, May 27, 2024, in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and demanding the Egyptian authorities open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Iran's acting President Mohammad Mokhber addresses during the opening ceremony of a new parliament term, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, May 27, 2024. Mokhber addressed the country's new parliament Monday in his first public speech since last week's helicopter crash that killed his predecessor and seven others. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran's acting President Mohammad Mokhber addresses during the opening ceremony of a new parliament term, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, May 27, 2024. Mokhber addressed the country's new parliament Monday in his first public speech since last week's helicopter crash that killed his predecessor and seven others. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

A girl waves a Hezbollah flag as her brothers hold portraits of the late Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone attack in 2020 in Iraq, as the family check their house destroyed in an Israeli strike in Aita al-Shaab village, south Lebanon, Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zaatari)

A girl waves a Hezbollah flag as her brothers hold portraits of the late Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone attack in 2020 in Iraq, as the family check their house destroyed in an Israeli strike in Aita al-Shaab village, south Lebanon, Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zaatari)

FILE - A tent camp housing Palestinians displaced by the Israeli offensive is seen in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Feb. 27, 2024. The tent camps stretch for more than 16 kilometers (10 miles) along Gaza’s coast, filling the beach and sprawling into empty lots, fields and town streets. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali, file)

FILE - A tent camp housing Palestinians displaced by the Israeli offensive is seen in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Feb. 27, 2024. The tent camps stretch for more than 16 kilometers (10 miles) along Gaza’s coast, filling the beach and sprawling into empty lots, fields and town streets. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali, file)

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