Details of Disappearance Grisanti was last seen in Norwalk, Connecticut on February 1, 1985. At 9:00 p.m. the previous day, her boyfriend, James C. "Purple" Aaron Jr., forced her into a car after they argued in a bar. A few hours later, they were seen arguing at a different bar, leaving Anthony's Cafe in the 100 block of Main Street. At 12:15 a.m., Grisanti, accompanied by James, went across the street to use the phone to call for a ride, and never returned.
A photo of James is posted with this case summary. A witness reported seeing a woman kicking and screaming in his blue Cadillac as he drove away. Aaron drove north on Main Street and then turned left on New Canaan Avenue with Grisanti in the vehicle, still struggling. She has never been heard from again. Her car was later found near Ann Street, in the Norwalk River, and her wallet was found near a Norwalk school.
Half an hour before her disappearance, Grisanti told the police she was having an argument with James. One of her fingers was bleeding, and she said he'd assaulted her. She refused to have him arrested, however, and left with James in his car at 12:30 a.m. He said she got out of his car at a stoplight three blocks away.
Grisanti's mother reported her missing later that day. Her wallet with her credit cards, driver's license, and birth certificate was found abandoned in Norwalk a month later.
James's estranged wife, Mary Frattalone-Aaron, disappeared from her husband's Norwalk residence in July 1981. Her skeletal remains were found in a wooded area behind a commuter lot on Route 123 a month later. The cause of death could not determined, but was presumed to be homicide. James and Mary had been discussing divorce at the time of her disappearance. James was questioned in her disappearance, but no charges were ever filed.
According to Grisanti's best friend, James was physically abusive towards Grisanti and her friend often saw her with bruises. At first, Grisanti told her friend that James got angry sometimes and she felt his abuse was her own fault for making him angry. She later told her mother she was going to break off the relationship, and started reporting James's abuse to the police. She was aware that he had been questioned in Mary's death, but said she couldn't imagine that he had killed her.
Later in February 1985, James was charged with kidnapping and unlawful restraint in Grisanti's case. He pleaded guilty to second-degree kidnapping and unlawful restraint and served nearly six years in prison before his release in December 1991. Grisanti's mother filed a lawsuit against him for injuries her daughter suffered in the kidnapping; the suit was settled in 1992 for $50,000.
In 1987, Grisanti's family filed a lawsuit against the Norwalk Police Department, alleging they had ignored her domestic violence complaints on January 15 and January 31, 1985, and also took no action when a woman from one of the bars Grisanti and James had been to that night called them to say a woman was being beaten and abducted. The lawsuit was settled in 1994.
Grisanti has never been located, but she has been declared legally dead. James died of natural causes in 2016 at the age of 65, while serving time on unrelated charges. He remains the prime suspect in her presumed murder.
- Norwalk Police Department
Updated 9 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated May 1, 2021; picture added, details of disappearance updated.