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Lucius Crawford slaying case: 'This guy really needs help'

Mount Vernon police crime scene investigators work to

Mount Vernon police crime scene investigators work to gather evidence from the basement apartment at 7 Beekman Ave. in Mount Vernon, the residence of murder suspect Lucius Crawford, left. (Dec. 5, 2012) Photo Credit: Xavier Mascarenas

Charleston, S.C. - After plunging his knife into the leg of a stranger, Lucius Crawford climbed into his bed and pondered the reasons why he kept lashing out at random women on the street.

"I said to myself, 'Are you doing this for fun or you crazy?' " Crawford said. "I said to myself, 'If they catch up with you, you going to get time.' I guess if I had been with somebody, I would not do it, but I always be by myself."

Crawford expressed those thoughts in a written statement to detectives after Charleston County police hauled him in for a stabbing spree that wounded five women in May 1973.

Records from the case had been stored for years in a county warehouse until obtained by The Post and Courier this week. They shed fresh light on the mind-set of a lonely and violent 21-year-old who would go on to hurt several more women in the decades that followed.

His most recent victim, police say, was 41-year-old Tanya Simmons, found stabbed to death in Crawford's Mount Vernon apartment Dec. 4. In addition to Simmons' slaying, police say Crawford confessed to the fatal stabbings of two Yonkers women in 1993. However, a published report states that he has denied admitting to those murders.

Crawford, now 60, pleaded not guilty to Simmons' slaying; a Westchester County grand jury is slated to hear evidence in all three killings.


In past arrests, however, Crawford has not been one to hold back. He was twice arrested for stabbing women in Charleston, in 1973 and 1977. Both times, he readily confessed to his actions when police caught up with him. Both times, he stabbed five women over a week's span. And both times, he tried to provide some perspective on his actions, alluding to his failed overtures at winning women's hearts.

"All these girls talk to everybody else but won't talk to me and guess that's why I cut them -- I guess this is in my mind," he told police.

The documents indicate that state psychiatrists found no evidence of mental illness when they examined Crawford that May. But Karl V. Doskocil, superintendent of the South Carolina State Hospital in Columbia, noted that Crawford had an IQ of 64, leaving him to function "at a mild mentally retarded level."

The 1973 spree began May 15 and ended four days later. As in the 1977 stabbings, Crawford operated at a pace of about one victim per day. A sixth woman was threatened but got away, records show.

In each instance, he approached women he randomly encountered on the streets around the southern portion of North Charleston, not far from his family's modest home. Crawford would try to strike up a conversation and then made sexual advances that were spurned. He would then pull out a knife and go after the women, records show.

His victims ranged in age from 18 to 34. Most were stabbed or "chopped" with a knife on their legs, though at least one was stabbed in the arm, police reports show.

In a statement to detectives, Crawford recalled talking up one woman on his way to get a hamburger. She wasn't interested and started to walk away. "I said to myself, 'It's dark,' I pull me knife and said, 'I might as well cut her,' and I cut her on the leg," he stated.

The following day, Crawford told another woman he met that she "got some big legs" and then tried to bum some money off of her. When she told him to go ask his mother for change, Crawford got mad. "When she walked between two cars, I walk up behind her and got a chance to stab her on the leg," he told detectives.

Police caught up with him on May 19, 1973, after he stabbed another woman. He told detectives he cut the woman three times on the leg after a very brief exchange. "I don't know why I cut her," he told investigators.


Eugene Frazier, who retired from Charleston County law enforcement in 1991, was a detective at the time and interviewed Crawford after his arrest. They met again four years later, after Crawford got out of prison and stabbed more women in almost the exact same fashion.

Each time, Crawford expressed remorse, but it didn't strike Frazier as being genuine.

"I sat across the table from this guy and listened to him, and he was trying to convince me he was sorry," Frazier recalled Wednesday. "But I didn't detect remorse in his mannerisms. I could read the coldness in him, and I noticed a viciousness that was there."

Frazier said Crawford had a deep-seated hatred for women that was plain to see. "I got the impression he just didn't have the finesse to deal with women one on one or the ability to talk to them. If he couldn't talk to them in a conversation like a normal person would, the only thing he could think to do was to force them to do what he wanted. He would just walk up and ask for sex. Then he would pull his knife.

"All I could think was: This guy really needs some help."

Crawford received a 24-year prison sentence after the second wave of stabbings. When he got out, he moved to New York, where he later was convicted of stabbing a woman 13 times. She lived.

He had largely avoided trouble in recent years until his arrest last week.

Crawford's attorney, Angelo MacDonald, still hasn't had a chance to conduct an in-depth interview with his client, but he said Crawford strongly denies that he is responsible for the two cold-case stabbings from 1993. "Right now, he's just hanging in there," he said.

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