The Daily Courier Logo
Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
5:07 PM Tue, Sept. 18th

Police: Girl who was slain lived in drug den

Ralph Folster III and Tania Grogan

Ralph Folster III and Tania Grogan

FLAGSTAFF - The home of an 8-year-old Arizona girl who was abducted and killed apparently was a nest of drug abuse and sales, police said.

A month-long narcotics investigation resulted in the arrest Wednesday of Isabella Grogan-Cannella's mother, stepfather and grandmother on felony drug charges. Police said Tania Grogan, 29, and Ralph Folster III, 28, were dealing methamphetamine and heroin in Bullhead City, and that Grogan supplied methamphetamine to a family friend charged in her daughter's death.

"These drug dealers pose a significant risk to this community," said Bullhead City police Chief Brian Williamson. "I am proud of the members of the Bullhead City Police Department for conducting tenacious investigations that remove drugs from the streets of our community and put criminals behind bars."

Justin Rector has pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree murder and kidnapping in the death and disappearance of Isabella. He told police he smoked meth in Isabella's Bullhead City home throughout the day she was reported missing on Sept. 2, authorities said.

The girl's partially clothed body was found in a shallow grave the next day. Medical examiners determined that she was strangled.

Grogan and Folster each were being held Thursday at the Mohave County jail on a $250,000 bond. They were appointed public defenders, but their cases will be contracted outside the county office because it already represents Rector in his case. Bond for Isabella's grandmother, Freddie Nicholson, 59, was set at $100,000.

Isabella and her sister were left in the care of Nicholson the night Isabella disappeared while Grogan and Folster were at the store, according to police records.

Searches of the home turned up drug paraphernalia and a methamphetamine pipe in Nicholson's bedroom, police said. Detectives said Nicholson was helping Grogan sell drugs. Police spokeswoman Emily Fromelt said Grogan supplied methamphetamine to both Nicholson and Rector the night Isabella went missing.

Officers said Grogan surrendered immediately Wednesday, but Folster refused to come out and enlisted the help of his girlfriend and neighbor to try and evade arrest. His 21-year-old girlfriend called 911 and falsely reported that an officer was shot at a gas station, police said. Folster climbed through an attic to a neighboring duplex where he was hidden from authorities, they said. The girlfriend and the neighbor were arrested.

Folster surrendered after a two-hour standoff. Rector remains jailed without bond.