Update 10/24: As it turns out, the story of the missing suspect in the Teddy Grasset murder case might have gone out too early. Joseph Santillan, wanted in connection with the death of tourist from LA and denim designer Teddy Grasset, turned himself in Sunday night. According to the Tennessean, Santillan turned himself in quietly to MNPD and is currently in custody. There are no further details at this point, but I’ll keep you posted when new information arises.
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Details are still emerging from this story, and it’s going to be one that I cover here on the site for a while, but here is what we know so far in the arrest of two suspects in the death of Teddy Grasset, a 30-year-old tourist visiting Nashville from Los Angeles.
Andy Francisco Nunez, 22, and Daniela Veronia Cruz, 20, were arrested in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Thursday in connection with the Grasset homicide, which occurred last month just outside the Country Music Hall of Fame. A third suspect, Joseph Santillan, is also believed to be involved but remains at large. Nunez and Cruz are being held on $1 million bond in Wake County and have been charged with being out-of-state fugitives.
In a bit of commentary here, I have to say that Daniela Cruz’s mugshot is galling. Seeing her smile, given the circumstances of this murder, looks really bad. I mean, it’s a moment in time, and it’s not like she’s jeering at the crime itself. I hope. That would be really something worth throwing shade at her about. But still, it’s not something I would do, but let’s give the wheels of justice some time to turn.
Surveillance footage shows two men exiting a Chevy Impala and following Grasset and his friend, 28-year-old Larry Nieheus. Grasset and Nieheus were purportedly waiting for an Uber ride back to their hotel. They were traveling south on 4th Street when they were approached by the perps.
During the attempted robbery, Nieheus fled toward Korean Veterans, while Grasset himself ran in the direction of Demonbreun Street. Grasset was shot in the back while attempting to flee and died after being transported to the Vanderbilt Medical Center for treatment.
The Impala driven in the course of the robbery / homicide is believed to have belonged to Santillan, who is himself a parolee stemming from charges related to an aggravated robbery in 2012, and is currently in impound in Nashville. The police are investigating any and all leads into the capture of Santillan.
The Victim, The Man
Very often the victims’ stories get blurred in the gory details of their demises, but let’s not allow that to be the case here. Teddy Grasset, it should be noted, was well-known in the fashion industry and his business was named one of the top 10 men’s stores in the country by GQ magazine. He co-founded the Los Angeles-based denim company Dr. Collectors. He and Nieheus are both French-born but met in LA over a decade ago, and Grasset had traveled to Nashville to support one of Niehues’s photography exhibits.
September 25 was the second night in Music City for Grasset, who was reportedly contemplating moving to Nashville at the time of his murder. Nieheus said, “He was happy, we had a great weekend. He told me when we left the bar before everything happened. ‘Hey, Larry, let’s move to Nashville.'”
Here is how Blair Lucio of General Quarters, a nearby denim and heritage shop, remembers Grasset:
He was one of the most gentle people I’ve met. His excitement for his work and passion for creating special things was visible in his person. Always positive and supportive, we had a respect that shop owners tend to have with each other. We really feel for his family and closer friends…and it’s not enough to say that we’ll miss him every day.”
Nieheus, friends, and family have been outspoken on the crime, the investigation, and the senselessness of what happened. Nunez and Cruz appeared before a judge on Friday.