BULLHEAD CITY–The grandmother of murdered victim, Isabella Grogan-Cannella, 8, is expressing outrage and frustration over the Mohave County Attorney’s Office decision not to prosecute the child’s mother and step-father on child neglect charges. Sue Winchester, Bella’s grandmother said in a telephone interview Monday that she was advised of the decision last week during a conversation on unrelated issues with Capt. Tad Appleby, of the Bullhead City Police Department. “I couldn’t believe it,” Winchester said. “We were talking about something when I inquired about the child endangerment charges that were possibly pending against Tania (Grogan) and Ralph (Folster). This was not what I was expecting. I was like “are you kidding me”” she said. Winchester added that Appleby reportedly told her the prosecutor’s office “had refused to pursue the charges.” Multiple calls to Matthew Smith’s office for comment were not returned, nor by Capt. Appleby. “I did tell the Captain (Appleby) that his detectives had done a great job with the whole case, and he was appreciative of that,” she said. “But this decision is not right. We, the family and community, believed the charge would be one that was easily prosecuted with all the evidence involved,” Furthermore, Winchester said, the public needs answers now as to why they have chosen not to proceed with the child endangerment charges. “I believe because the prosecutor is an elected official, he needs to give us some rhymn or reason as to why. In the public eye it looks clear to us that they are failing to hold those responsible,” she said. Winchester believes that even though the prosecutor’s office may have a good reason as to why they declined to charge the parents, the people who have been calling for justice for the young child needs answers. “I have always believed in the justice system, but times like this I begin to lose my faith in it,” she added. On Sept. 1 in the late hours, Grogan-Cannella was reported missing by Grogan and Folster. Two days later, her half-naked body was discovered in a shallow grave only a half-mile from her home off Lakeside Drive in Bullhead City. A family friend, Justin Rector, 26, was subsequently arrested in connection with the kidnapping and death of the young girl. He has since pled not guilty to the charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, disposal of a human body and child abuse. Earlier this month, the
prosecutor, Greg McPhillips, announced they were seeking the death penalty against Rector. Something Winchester was pleased to hear. “I was glad when they told us that. I have strongly believed he played a role in Bella’s death,” she said. But, when asked if she believed Grogan had a hand in her own daughter’s death, Winchester said, “no”. “As far as I can say about Tanya is she had poor parenting skills, but I do not believe she willingly and intentionally killed her daughter,” she said. Although she could not say the same for Folster. “I didn’t, and still don’t, trust him,” she added. “I can’t say if he did or didn’t play a part in Bella’s death.” Grogan and Folster are currently in custody on unrelated drug charges stemming from a month long investigation conducted by the Bullhead City Police Department. Both have pled not guilty to several drug conspiracy charges. They are set to return to court in December.
by CAT SMITH