Funeral Today for Michigan Mom Whose Body Was Found Dismembered Near Home

Tara Grant's closed casket, topped with colorful flowers, stood against a wall beneath an angel statuette and two large photographs.

One showed the smiling woman in a high-backed chair; the other, Grant embracing her two young children on a brilliantly sunny day.

"Such a beautiful person/from without and within," read a poem displayed nearby. "We will never forget you/Tara Lynn."

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Friends and strangers comforted Grant's family Sunday at a funeral home in Escanaba, the Upper Peninsula city where she was born. Her husband, Stephen Grant, is charged with strangling the 34-year-old woman at their suburban Detroit home and dismembering her body.

Her funeral is scheduled for Monday at First Lutheran Church in Gladstone, a short distance from Escanaba.

Tara Grant, operations manager for an engineering and construction company, grew up in the countryside north of town. Her death has deeply touched people in the area — including those who didn't know her, police Chief James Hansen said.

"I feel we're a little unique up here; the sense of community is a bit stronger than in a big city," said Hansen, 49, an Escanaba native. "When a tragedy like this occurs, as a community we're emotionally invested with the family."

Mourners streamed in and out of the funeral home during the six-hour visitation, which ended with the reading of two poems and a prayer. Many wore purple lapel ribbons, a symbol of the battle against domestic violence, as they did during a vigil Saturday night at a local church.

Dale Destrampe, an uncle of Tara Grant's from Kent City near Grand Rapids, said he was grateful for the outpouring of support.

"There's probably complete strangers here that never met her but have been following the case," Destrampe said. "I think it's good. I hope it never happens to anybody else."

Floral arrangements lined the walls in the room where Grant lay. A small basket filled with stuffed animals was on the floor by the casket.

Images of Grant, against a backdrop of sunlight streaming through clouds, faded in and out on a television screen.

Several easels were crowded with photos from happier times, showing Grant alone and with friends and family. Many were from childhood: firing a rifle during target practice; posing with the school band and basketball team; showing off her award-winning livestock during 4-H fairs.

She seemed constantly beaming.

"That was Tara, always a happy kid," her sister, Alicia Standerfer, wrote in a front-page essay in Sunday's Detroit Free Press.

"Her grin and curly pigtails put a smile on the face of everyone who came in contact with her," Standerfer wrote. "She enjoyed every aspect of life."

Investigators believe Tara Grant was strangled Feb. 9. Stephen Grant reported her missing five days later. He said during media interviews they had quarreled about her frequent business trips but insisted he hadn't harmed her.

Police found Tara Grant's torso March 2 in the garage of the couple's home in Macomb County 30 miles north of Detroit, and other body parts in a nearby park.

Her husband fled during the search and was caught more than 200 miles away in snowy Wilderness State Park at the tip of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said Stephen Grant, 37, made a graphic confession.

He is in jail, awaiting a May 15 preliminary hearing on charges of murder and mutilation of a corpse.

Destrampe said Tara Grant's family was coping as well as could be expected.

"We've been doing good," he said. "We'll survive; we'll get through it."