This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
Fake Surgeon Is Sentenced For Killing, Nearly-Decapitating Girlfriend In 2011
James Duane Grzeslo, 59, has been sentenced to 26 years to life in state prison for a 2011 murder, according to KTLA. He'd been found guilty of one count of first-degree murder in August.
Grzeslo's alleged crime was a grisly one. His girlfriend at the time, Cathy Ann Carrasco-Zanini, was found dead on October 26, 2011 in her Beverly Hills apartment. During the ensuing trial, prosecutors said that she was nearly decapitated during an attack involving a knife. They also presented evidence suggesting that, in her dying moments, Carrasco-Zanini had called out Grzeslo by writing his name with her blood. According to City New Service, Deputy District Attorney Keri Modder said the victim had scrawled the initials "JG".
According to LA Weekly, Grzeslo had met with his anger-management counselor on the day of the body's discovery. He'd told his counselor that he may have done something wrong (going as far as saying "I think I killed my girlfriend"), which prompted the counselor to alert the authorities.
LA Weekly also reported on Grzeslo's bizarre and winding history. Throughout his years, he'd convinced people that he was a cardiothoracic surgeon, a Vietnam veteran, a fraud examiner, and a certified radio broadcast engineer (all the claims were fake). He'd even convinced an ex-wife, Wendy Bowen, that he was Jewish (which he wasn't). "He forced me to live a kosher lifestyle," Bowen told LA Weekly.
He was partly exposed in 2007 or 2008, when he and Bowen went to get a background check as part of their efforts to adopt children. The check revealed that Grzeslo was neither a doctor or a former soldier. The two divorced shortly thereafter.
Thomas Grzeslo, Grzeslo's older brother, said that Grzeslo's lying went back as far as 1980, when he told his then-wife that he was a radio broadcast engineer. Thomas said that Grzeslo had a FCC license that was clearly a fake.
In perhaps his final theatrical role, Grzeslo served as his own attorney during the trial.
Cruise off the highway and hit locally-known spots for some tasty bites.
Fentanyl and other drugs fuel record deaths among people experiencing homelessness in L.A. County. From 2019 to 2021, deaths jumped 70% to more than 2,200 in a single year.
This fungi isn’t a “fun guy.” Here’s what to do if you spot or suspect mold in your home.
Donald Trump was a fading TV presence when the WGA strike put a dent in network schedules.
Edward Bronstein died in March 2020 while officers were forcibly taking a blood sample after his detention.
A hike can be a beautiful backdrop as you build your connection with someone.