The Music Row attorney whose disappearance puzzled police and prompted an elaborate weeks-long search of the Cumberland River likely faked his own death, Metro Police said in a release Tuesday.
Bill Grothe, of Franklin, was reported missing by his wife Jill Grothe late in the evening on Nov. 19.
The circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Grothe, a 62-year-old consultant for SESAC who had a long career on Music Row, were confusing from the start. Shortly after his car was found in Shelby Park late in the evening on Nov. 19, a grocery bag containing some of his personal belongings was found discarded in front of an East Nashville home.
Not long after that, The City Paper learned more of Grothe’s belongings, including his wallet and leather jacket, were found along the riverbank. The Office of Emergency Management conducted daily searches of the river for Grothe’s body for weeks. The search also included officers on foot, a police dog and OEM divers.
Now however, according to police, those searches were ultimately unnecessary because Grothe allegedly fled to Missoula, Montana. Metro Detective Hugh Coleman discovered that Grothe had checked into a hotel there using his wife’s maiden name.
Metro Police spokesperson Don Aaron said the notion that Grothe had faked his own death first occurred to police when his belongings started to turn up.
“The items that were located all had identification with them, to let them know that it was Bill Grothe,” Aaron said.
Grothe also allegedly disguised his voice and made a phone call to Nashville’s Emergency Communications Center on Nov. 24 claiming he was the man who murdered Bill Grothe, police said.
Aaron said that the voice from Grothe’s cell phone voice mail message matched the voice on the call made to the Emergency Communications Center.
Police informed Jill Grothe on Tuesday of their conclusion that her husband had faked his death and fled the state.
Motives for the disappearance are not known, although police said Grothe had a life insurance policy worth about $1 million.
Police said they are in discussions with the Davidson County District Attorney’s office regarding potential criminal charges against Grothe. The phone call he allegedly made to ECC would potentially qualify as filing a false report, Aaron said.
After Grothe’s initial disappearance, his stepson Mathew Pauley gave interviews with local media claiming it was unlike his stepdad to break from routine. Pauley told Channel 4 News that Grothe was looking forward to events like his wife’s birthday and a family wedding.
In late November, The City Paper arranged an interview with Jill Grothe to discuss her husband’s disappearance. When setting up the interview, Grothe said, “I don’t know what there is to say, detectives say they’re just waiting for his body to surface.”
The day of the scheduled interview, Grothe cancelled.
“There’s really nothing else to say,” she said. “They (police) really don’t know what to think pretty much. They whole thing doesn’t make sense. They’re finding belongings three miles away in the projects, and then his empty wallet, and he kept a baseball cap in his car for when he took walks.”
Reached for a comment on Tuesday, Grothe told The City Paper, “I can’t speak about this.”
Metro Police encouraged anyone having had contact with Grothe to contact authorities immediately.