Cottonwood Heights woman arrested in mom's death

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A 36-year-old woman with a history of mental illness told police "bad things happen" when she's off medication shortly before her arrest in the stabbing death of her mother.

Police in the Salt Lake City suburb of Cottonwood Heights said Airida Maria Gruodis' father blamed her for the killing and that they have evidence to prove it.

Peter Gruodis, however, didn't report his wife was dead until police pulled him over Monday for erratic driving. Investigators believe his wife was slain a day or two before.

Zita Gruodis' body was found on her bed with numerous knife wounds, police Sgt. Gary Young said. She was 58.

Young called the husband's failure to promptly report his wife's death "quite peculiar."

The mother had a series of protective orders filed against her daughter in the past, but none at the time of the killing, he said.

"We've been there numerous times for mental health issues," Young said Tuesday. "It was very tragic."

Airida Gruodis was being held without bail at Salt Lake County jail on charges of aggravated murder and assault by a prisoner— she allegedly bit an arresting officer's hand and had to be placed in a restraining suit.

Utah court records show the woman has a seven-year criminal record complicated by mental illness. She was most recently charged Feb. 9, also with assault by a prisoner. That felony charge remains unresolved.

Also, she has been in and out of hospitals and is under the supervision of a mental-health court, records show.

The woman's public defender, Jeffrey Clark, didn't answer a phone message left Tuesday by The Associated Press.

The father also was being held Tuesday at Salt Lake County jail on an unrelated domestic-violence warrant. Court records show he has a history of DUIs, medical seizures and car accidents.

The simple assault charge against Peter Gruodis remains unresolved three years after it was filed in Holladay Justice Court. Details of the misdemeanor charge weren't available in online court records. A court docket shows his wife submitted a letter about the incident.

When officers visited the family duplex Monday, Airida Gruodis was "evasive and dismissive" about her dead mother, jail documents say.

She acknowledged being off her medication, which means "bad things happening," she told police. Young said he didn't know what type of medication the woman was taking or have any information about her mental health condition.

In a separate police interview, Peter Gruodis said his daughter had a "volatile relationship" with her mother. Neighbors told police they heard a loud argument between daughter and mother on the day of her presumed death.

"We believe Airida Gruodis is responsible for the murder of her mother," Young said. He declined to specify the physical evidence leading police to that conclusion.

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Information from: KSL-TV, http://www.ksl.com/

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