• Gagnon's Texas landlord had unwitting role in Bennett case
     | July 05,2008

    When Kevin Grosenheider in San Antonio received a call early Monday from his friend, Raymond Gagnon, asking him to dispose of a safe, he decided to help him out.

    Grosenheider, who rented a room to Gagnon, had no idea what was inside, only assuming it was something Gagnon didn't want released. The next day, the FBI showed up and interviewed him for many hours.

    "Rather than do the smart thing — which would've been nothing — I did as he had asked," Grosenheider told The Associated Press in a phone interview Thursday. "I was just doing a friend a favor. And for that I have spent easily over 24 hours hand-in-hand with multiple FBI agents. I don't want to do that again."

    Gagnon, 40, who was in Vermont being questioned by authorities, faces obstruction of justice charges in the disappearance of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett, the daughter of his ex-wife, Cassandra Gagnon.

    According to an affidavit in federal court in Vermont, Raymond Gagnon told police he accessed his former stepdaughter's MySpace page from a computer at his San Antonio home after getting login information from the girl's uncle, Michael Jacques.

    Since then, Brooke has turned up dead near Jacques' home, prosecutors have charged Jacques with kidnapping her, and Gagnon has sat in jail awaiting another hearing Monday.

    The affidavit says Gagnon, whose lawyer did not a return a call Thursday, acknowledged that he had downloaded child pornography onto a laptop computer and hard drives he kept in his safe.

    Grosenheider, who's in his late 50s, is quoted in the affidavit as saying he didn't know what was in the safe "but assumed it was child pornography."

    That's not how Grosenheider remembered the conversation Thursday.

    "They asked me what was in safe, (I said) 'I don't know. I had never seen the safe open,"' he told The AP. "I assumed it was something he didn't want (discovered)."

    When asked about the child pornography reference, Grosenheider said, "That's the FBI."

    According to the affidavit, Grosenheider told authorities he threw the safe into an apartment complex Dumpster near his home. Authorities said the safe hasn't been found.

    Grosenheider, who lives with his fiancee and her 17-year-old daughter, has not been charged with any crime. He said he's known Gagnon for four years and that Gagnon had been renting the room for about six months.

    He said Gagnon was his boss at Avanzar Interior Technologies in San Antonio, which provides seats and other interior parts for vehicles.

    "It is a complete shock," Grosenheider said of Gagnon's legal troubles, adding it's as if "there was two different people here." He described Gagnon as considerate, nice and intelligent, although he was a messy tenant, leaving things like clothes around the house. Grosenheider said he'd often pick up Gagnon's stuff and dump it at his door.

    Grosenheider said he knew little about Gagnon's past. He said he met Jacques twice, including one time when Jacques showed up at work and the three went to lunch. Later, Gagnon told him that Jacques was his brother-in-law (they married sisters) and had a criminal record.

    Jacques is listed in Vermont's sex offender registry. He was convicted of rape and kidnapping in 1993.

    "Ray had told me about his prior incarcerations, and I'm like ... What are you doing even talking to this guy?"' Grosenheider said.

    Grosenheider said he's helped out many friends through the years for various reasons. "I didn't know there was anything like this that was going to come out of it," he said.

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