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Riverdale actor who killed mom suffered from depression says psych report

Alexandra Ciufudean June 16, 2022
ryan grantham depression
Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images

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Actor Ryan Grantham, best known for roles in Riverdale, Supernatural and Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, pleaded guilty to the second-degree killing of his mother in March 2022. At his sentencing hearing this week, new details emerged about Grantham’s mental state and further plans at the time of the attack.

The 24-year-old actor allegedly had plans to assassinate Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, according to new findings.

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Ryan Grantham rose to fame with Diary Of A Wimpy Kid

During his short but successful acting career, Grantham appeared in a number of extremely popular projects, including 2010’s Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, which was based on the books by Jeff Kinney and achieved semi-cult status with young adult audiences.

He also appeared in The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus (2009), where he played Little Anton, Supernatural twice (in 2008 and 2015 playing two separate characters) and Riverdale as Jeffrey in a 2019 episode.

Grantham started acting at just nine years old when he landed the role of Billy in TV movie The Secret Of The Nutcracker.

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Child actor killed mom to ‘spare her from seeing the violence he intended to commit’

***WARNING: Disturbing content below***

CBC reports Grantham shot his mom, 64-year old Barbara Waite, in the back of the head while she was playing piano, on 31 March 2020. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder after an initial charge of first-degree murder.

At his sentencing hearing this week, new details were brought before the court alleging Grantham had intended to spare his mother from “seeing the violence he intended to commit”. Additionally, reports claim the actor had filmed the crime scene and recorded himself confessing to the murder.

Image credit: Barbara Ann Waite and Squamish Funeral Chapel

After shooting Waite, Grantham allegedly planned to assassinate Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau. Complex reports the actor had mentioned the plan and its preparation in a statement to police and in a private journal, of which excerpts were read in court this week.

His arsenal allegedly included guns, ammunition, camping supplies and a printed-out map of his intended destination. Instead of carrying out the attack, however, Grantham drove to the police station and turned himself in.

In Canada, second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence. The Crown is asking for 17 to 18 years of parole ineligibility.

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Grantham driven by depression and suicidal urges

According to psychiatric reports brought forward on Ryan’s mental state at the time of the attack, the actor was suffering from clinical depression.

Prosecutor Michaela Donnelly referenced two separate reports stating Grantham had been going through an intense period of depression while maintaining the outward appearance of a well-functioning young man. He had stopped attending classes at Simon Fraser University, however, and relied on cannabis to alleviate his symptoms.

Along with his intention to commit violence on himself and his family, he had also been considering mass shootings, with one possible location being his former university.

The reports add the child actor was experiencing thoughts of suicide, violence towards others, and increasing self-loathing and guilt towards his mother and sister Lisa.

“I’m so sorry mom, I’m so sorry Lisa … I hate myself,” an entry from Grantham’s personal diary reads. “There’s a lot of media of me out there … film and TV … hundreds of hours of me that can be viewed and dissected … No one will understand.”

Shooting his mother may have had an altruistic motive in Ryan’s mind, said Donnelly: “Mr Grantham was seeking to save his mother from something he was going to do … That is something different than altruism.”

We want to emphasise that, despite the fact Grantham was suffering from depression when he committed murder, research shows the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, according to a report by the American Psychological Association. On the contrary, the report states suffering from a mental illness puts people at higher risk of being on the receiving end of violence.

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Alexandra is Head of Entertainment at The Focus, managing a growing team of outstanding graduate and experienced writers. She has worked previously as an editor, writer and content specialist across web, video and social platforms and has a bachelor's in English Linguistics and a master's in Comparative Literature.