Little Information from Police About Homicide, Brutal Beating and Arson

The V.I. Police Department has released little information about the horrific homicide, brutal assault and arson early Saturday morning, October 29 in Grunwald.

Well-known and well-liked local painter, sailor and builder David Geiger was found dead and his teenage son Nathan was severely wounded in the attack which sent waves of grief and shock throughout the community. “No additional information can be released at this particular time,” said VIPD spokesman Sgt. Thomas Hannah Monday afternoon, October 31.

On-Line Report a “Misunderstanding”
A Monday morning, October 31 report on the St. John Source, an on-line forum, which stated there was an “altercation over money between the father and son” was a “misunderstanding,” according to Sgt. Hannah.

“That was a misunderstanding – the son is not considered a suspect,” said the VIPD spokesman. “We need to talk to him because he is the only one who can provide us with the information of what transpired in the home.”

“There may have been a dispute in the home about money but we don’t know who the dispute was with,” Sgt. Hannah continued. “We are trying to determine what happened in the home.”

Two friends of Geiger told St. John Tradewinds a large amount of cash had been taken from Geiger’s home recently while he was off-island and an acquaintance was house-sitting.

“He confronted one guy about it on Wednesday in Coral Bay,” a close friend of Geiger told St. John Tradewinds.

An altercation occurred in Geiger’s home early Saturday, according to a downstairs neighbor.

Altercation Earlier Saturday Morning
“I live right below him and around 1:11 a.m. I woke up and heard some noise,” said Tommy Ferrell, who rented from Geiger.

“It sounded like a tussle but at the time we thought it was a domestic dispute so we didn’t call the police – he is the landlord and we wanted to respect his privacy.”

Ferrell said he went back to sleep at 2:13 a.m. and sometime between 3:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. awoke again to noise coming from above.

“The second noise had to be from the fire because we heard things dropping and cracking,” said the neighbor. “I could see flames from the kitchen window falling down through the bushes and stuff.”

Ferrell and an associate alerted other neighbors on the property to the fire and then went upstairs to the scene.

“By the time that I got upstairs everyone was by the driveway and another neighbor had gotten a hose and was shooting water at the fire through the kitchen window,” said Ferrell. “I proceeded to break down the front door and saw Nathan on the living room floor.”

The sight that he saw was brutal, the neighbor continued.

“It was unreal, there was blood everywhere,” said Ferrell. “There was blood on the floor, on the wall, everywhere – it was just really terrible.”

Nathan had been brutally beaten about the head, according to another neighbor who helped carry the teenager out of the house.

“Part of his brain was exposed,” the friend and neighbor said of Nathan’s head injuries. “His eyes were swollen to the size of baseballs.”

Neighbors Save Teenager’s Life
Ferrell and another neighbor, Nate Emerich, pulled Nathan Geiger out of the burning house.

“In my opinion if they would not have pulled him out, he would have died,” said John Bowman, Chief of St. John Rescue who was at the scene. “Those men saved his life – they ought to be recognized for what they did.”

“Anyone would have done what we did,” said Ferrell. “It was very tragic and we just tried to do the best that we could.”

“It was just a horrifying experience; I don’t really know what to say,” said Emerich. “It was awful.”

The two neighbors saw David in the bedroom but couldn’t reach him because the fire was too big, Ferrell added. “We saw David in the bedroom but there was nothing that we could do – we couldn’t help him because there was too much fire,” Ferrell said.

Fire Contained Before Fire Dept. Arrives
After removing a badly beaten Nathan from the house, the two neighbors set to work containing the fire in the kitchen which was under control by the time the St. John Fire Department arrived, continued Ferrell.

“By the time that the police and fire officials arrived the fire was almost out and Nathan was out of the house,” said the neighbor.

It took more than 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive to take Nathan to Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center (MKSCHC) about a mile from the scene, according to one neighbor.

By that time several neighbors had put the badly injured youth into a private vehicle and were transporting him themselves before flagging down the ambulance as it arrived, he added.

Nathan, who had numerous lacerations about the body and an open laceration on his forehead, was taken to MKSCHC before being transferred to Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas and later airlifted to the trauma center in Puerto Rico.

He was listed in critical condition and on life support after undergoing extensive surgery.

Law enforcement officials will be traveling to Puerto Rico to try to speak with the victim and learn more about what transpired in the Grunwald home during the early morning hours of October 29, according to the VIPD spokesman.

David Geiger was found dead and badly burned in his bed and an autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death, according to Sgt. Hannah.

No Suspects, Investigation Continues
“We have no suspects at this time, our information on that is not releasable,” said Sgt. Hannah.

VIPD officials are insisting the attack is not related to the string of reported crimes that occurred this summer, which many have labeled hate crimes, which include two arsons that targeted a close friend of Geiger’s.

“Without equivocation this is not related to the Esther Frett situation,” said Sgt. Hannah of a series of crimes reported involving an East End family. “I can’t disclose what the investigation has discovered so far; we need to continue the investigation.”

The community is understandably upset, Sgt. Hannah added.

“I understand that people are upset, but we don’t want anyone jumping to conclusions,” said the VIPD spokesman. “We don’t know if this was racially motivated at this time.” The community needs to be patient and let the authorities complete the investigation, the VIPD spokesman continued.

Information Withheld To Build Case
“We don’t release information as quickly as people believe; we cannot release everything that the community wants to know about the incident,” said Sgt. Hannah. “We want to build a case and get every piece of information that we can get.”

“We can’t make a haphazard arrest,” Sgt. Hannah added. The VIPD spokesman said on Saturday, October 29 that a press conference would be convened but changed his mind on Monday, October 31.

“We decided not to have a press conference – there is no point until an arrest is made,” said Sgt. Hannah. No suspects have been named and the investigation is ongoing, according to the VIPD official. Anyone with information relating to the incident is urged to contact the VIPD at 693-8880.

Memorial Service Nov. 2
A memorial service for David Geiger will be held on Wednesday, November 2 at 2:45 p.m. on Cruz Bay beach in front of the Beach Bar.