Police believe 19-year-old Alexander Grant fell into a creek and drowned after drinking himself into a stupor and getting separated from his friends near Skidmore College in Sarasota Springs.
But Grant's parents, Kenneth and Deanna Grant of Briarcliff Manor, believe there could be something more sinister at play in their son's March 2011 death, so on Tuesday, they announced a $100,000 reward for information in the case.
"So far, all we have learned is that the events of his last night alive cannot be explained by what is currently known," the Grants said in a written statement.
The reward will be given "to the first person who comes forward with material information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person(s) responsible for causing Alex's death," according to the couple's statement.
For police, the case is closed. Investigators say they're satisfied that the evidence -- which includes witness accounts, sightings of Grant on security cameras the night he died, and an autopsy report -- supports their conclusion that the Boston College student was disoriented, lost, suffering from hypothermia and highly intoxicated in the hours leading up to his accidental-drowning death.
Grant was on spring break when he traveled to Saratoga Springs to visit friends at Skidmore College on March 5, 2011. After drinking beer and tequila in a dorm room until 10:28 p.m., Grant and his Skidmore friends took a bus downtown, according to a timetable from the Saratoga Police Department.
Witness statements put Grant at a house party through 11 p.m., while footage from a nearby train station surveillance camera shows Grant "alone, fully clothed and . . . staggering as he walks" at 11:34 p.m., police said.
At 1:33 a.m. March 6, footage from another security camera shows Grant, this time missing a sock and dirty from an apparent fall, kicking in a window to gain access to the lobby of an office building in Saratoga Springs, police said.
Grant spent the better part of 40 minutes in the lobby, camera timestamps show. Police note the 19-year-old "has cut himself and is bleeding considerably." Grant "never leaves the lobby area or attempts to break into any of the offices," police said.
"He is stumbling into the walls and repeatedly loses his balance," a police statement reads. "He eventually staggers out of the building once again at 2:11 a.m. and is last seen walking away from the building."
Police believe there was a blood trail that was washed away by heavy rain the next day. A search team found Grant's pants and wallet nearby, and meandering footprints leading from railroad tracks to a wooded area and eventually to Putnam Creek, where his body was found in four feet of water on March 7, police said.
An autopsy concluded the official cause of death was "asphyxia due to drowning with contributing factors of intoxication and probable hypothermia." Grant's alcohol level was .16 percent at the time of his death, police said, and his body was found "under an ice shelf" in the creek.
In September 2011, police said they'd finished investigating "active leads" in the case and added that they "do not suspect foul play" in Grant's death. The only caveat was that several of Grant's friends had hired lawyers and wouldn't speak to investigators, according to police, even after Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy offered the students immunity from prosecution on minor charges like underage drinking and disorderly conduct.
Although Grant's parents were initially suspicious of their son's friends and even filed a lawsuit on April 23 of this year, "after speaking with most of the parties, as well as their families, we have discontinued the lawsuit in its entirety," the family said in Tuesday's statement.
Still, they said they "have a solemn duty to explore all discovery avenues" in their son's death and "restore a measure of dignity to his legacy."
"Our family remains heartbroken and devastated by the tragic loss of our beloved son, and by the failure of the known facts to adequately explain how this senseless death could've happened," the statement reads. "We implore those with potentially useful information to come forward, and will view any and all constructive outreach with profound gratitude."