Caleb VanGrinsven Dates FBI Agent, Is Arrested When She Finds Out His Secret

Categories: Crime

A profile shot of Caleb Heath VanGrinsven from his Facebook site.
A Phoenix man under investigation for domestic violence began dating an FBI agent -- and landed in jail after she learned of his secret.

Caleb Heath VanGrinsven, 31, was arrested soon after leaving the female agent's Flagstaff residence on May 14 in an operation involving three agencies. The employee of a Phoenix air-ambulance firm and former Wyoming resident has been in federal custody since then, with a detention hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning.

The case began, says a federal complaint, when FBI agent Rachael Herrick "recently discovered that her boyfriend (VanGrinsven) was a person of interest in a law enforcement investigation in Wyoming."

Herrick told her training agent what she'd learned about her boyfriend and that the news "caused her concern for her personal safety," records state.

The revelation led quickly to the involvement of the FBI and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Herrick had not only heard about the Wyoming investigation, the FBI told the ATF, but she'd been "advised that VanGrinsven" had a history of dating women in law enforcement and being involved in domestic violence with those women." And he had "pending domestic violence charges in Maricopa County."

She could have discovered some of the information herself by searching online records.

VanGrinsven's wife, (or girlfriend), who lives in the city of Maricopa, filed a complaint and order of protection against him in October, Maricopa County family-court records show. In December, the Pinal County Attorney's Office filed a complaint against VanGrinsven for failing to comply with a domestic-violence court order. That case is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on June 3.

It's unclear precisely when Herrick made the unpleasant connections, but the news apparently caught her by surprise: When she informed her training agent about VanGrinsven, he was "currently" at her Flagstaff residence, having driven up from Phoenix to see her.

A selfie taken by Caleb VanGrinsven, who was in federal custody on Monday following his date with an FBI agent.
Herrick informed authorities that VanGrinsven always carried a Glock 23 pistol in a hip holster.

A brief investigation revealed that VanGrinsven's order of protection in Maricopa County was still valid. It warned that VanGrinsven may have committed domestic violence and may do so again, prohibits him from stalking or harming the victim, and prohibits him from possessing a firearm.

Agents staked out Herrick's residence. When VanGrinsven eventually drove away, a Flagstaff police officer found a reason to pull him over and question him about his firearm. At Flagstaff police headquarters, Ogg read VanGrinsven his rights. VanGrinsven then told the ATF agent that his Phoenix lawyer, Harla Davison, had recently advised him that the domestic-violence charges and order of protection "had been dropped." VanGrinsven was slapped with a federal charge of possessing a firearm in violation of an order of protection.

Davison did not return a message left on Friday.

Magistrate Judge David Duncan ordered VanGrinsven held in custody until Tuesday's hearing.

VanGrinsven is a communication specialist at the Phoenix branch of PHI Air Medical, a woman with the company confirmed.

UPDATE: 4:50 pm -- Jim Knupp, the Pinal County Attorney's Office spokesman, got back to us with some additional information:

VanGrinsven's charge for his alleged failure to comply with a court order stems from an earlier case pending before the court. Records show that in November, VanGrinsven was charged with two domestic-violence counts, one for assault and another for disorderly conduct. He's fighting the charges. The record didn't show up in our previous search because it was listed under a misspelling of the defendant's name.

Check back here for more updates on the case.

UPDATE 5-21: VanGrinsven was released on Tuesday from federal detention on his own recognizance.

UPDATE January 29, 2015: VanGrinsven pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He's scheduled for a March 2 sentencing hearing in federal court in Phoenix. His plea agreement stipulates that his sentence be in the middle of the range of possible sentences, and that if he accepts full responsibility for his actions at his sentencing, he'll be treated more leniently. VanGrinsven also agreed to forfeiture of his Glock and 14 rounds of ammo.

UPDATE March 30: On March 2nd, VanGrinsven was sentenced by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to five months in prison, five months in home confinement, and three years' probation. He's set to do a self-surrender to the federal Bureau of Prison on April 13.

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Ray Stern on Twitter at @RayStern.

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DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Another "Law Abiding Gun Owner" the NRA is always promoting.


And yet the New Times still decided to publish the information of this VICTIM.


It horrifies me that you would so blatantly identify a victim, her hometown, her job and point out her shortcomings instead of pointing out the behaviors of her abuser. Does the New Times have no compassion for victims of domestic violence? Perhaps instead of publicly shaming a victim, we should focus on the crime. I understand that this was catchy story with a catchy headlines, but do we really need to resort to victim blaming in order to get readers to follow your story?


That picture is not a "profile shot."  A profile shot is a photograph taken from a side angle.  Personally, I'd prefer to see him behind bars, awaiting his fair innocent-until-proven-guilty trials, of course. 

ray.stern moderator

@XXXXXXXX  Hi. Thanks for writing. Actually, the article does not contain the name of any alleged crime victim. The victim in this case is the defendant's wife, and I chose not to include her name even though it was also in the federal complaint.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@XXXXXXXX  ... your threshold of "horror" is quite low.

Hysterical much?

ExpertShot topcommenter

@XXXXXXXX The reporter did not reveal that - the Federal Complaint did.  Oops.


@Jukes  a user profile is a different meaning of the word.


@ DonkeyHotay. By the very nature of your posting this comment it is clear that you do not understand Domestic Violence or just how dangerous it can be (especially when the relationship has ended, when there has been previous violence, and when weapons are involved). Having worked in the social services realm for almost twenty years, I have seen some of the terrible tragedies that have resulted from these situations. So, yes, I find "horror" in this piece of irresponsible journalism.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@XXXXXXXX  ... she's an ARMED FBI agent, and his aggression was directed at his wife, not the FBI agent.

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