N.Y. stabbing suspect has sordid history in Lowcountry

A New York double-murder suspect caught with another body in his bed this week got his start in Charleston, where he stabbed up to 10 women in a series of baffling attacks in the 1970s.

Former Union Heights resident Lucius Crawford, 60, is being held in a pair of cold-case homicides in which two women were stabbed to death in 1993, New York police said. When investigators went to his apartment to question him Tuesday, they found a dead 41-year-old woman beneath a sheet. She had been stabbed nine times in the chest, police said.

Investigators said Crawford confessed to all three homicides following his arrest about three hours after the grisly discovery.

The serial stabber began his criminal career in the Charleston area nearly four decades ago.

In May 1973, police charged him with stabbing five women — all strangers — whom he encountered on the streets of North Charleston. In each instance, he tried to talk to the women, then attacked them with a knife when they tried to get away from him, police said.

One woman was cut on the arm; the others stabbed in the legs, at least two quite seriously, police said.

Investigators arrested Crawford, then 21, on May 19, 1973, after he approached a woman walking down Dorchester Road and stabbed her twice in each leg, police said. He pleaded guilty to two assault counts and went to prison for about three years, police said.

Less than a year after his release, the 24-year-old ex-con was back at it, attacking and stabbing five women over a five-day period in April 1977, police said.

The victims ranged in age from 14 to 28. This time out, he stabbed his victims in the abdomen, the hip and the arm, police said.

Prosecutors said Crawford talked to most of the women before attacking them, but authorities could offer no motive for the stabbings.

In June 1977, Crawford pleaded guilty in four of the attacks, and a judge handed him a 24-year prison sentence, court records show.

Crawford got out of prison in February 1991 and was arrested in New York seven months later for punching a former girlfriend in the mouth, authorities said.

He landed in trouble again in May 1994, this time stalking and stabbing a 31-year-old co-worker at a Yonkers job- placement agency who had refused his sexual advances, police said. He stabbed her 13 times, police said.

A New York judge sentenced him to between 10 and 20 years in prison on an attempted murder charge. He was paroled in 2008 with plans to pursue a high school equivalency diploma, police said.

New York City detectives taking another look at an unsolved October 1993 homicide recently matched Crawford’s DNA to biological evidence from that crime, Deputy Police Commissioner Paul J. Browne said in a statement.

That case involved the killing of 38-year-old Nella West, a Bronx resident who was stabbed in the head, face and torso. The killer also broke her eye socket and crushed her skull, Browne said.

Investigators also learned that Yonkers detectives were looking at Crawford in the September 1993 killing of Laronda Shealy, who also had been stabbed to death, Browne said.

When investigators went to Crawford’s Mount Vernon apartment Tuesday, they found a woman stabbed to death in the parolee’s bed, and his electronic monitoring bracelet had been removed and left behind, Browne said. Police located him in Mount Vernon a few hours later.

WABC-TV in New York reported that Crawford told investigators the woman found in his apartment was his girlfriend and that they had been arguing over a cellphone and a shopping cart.

At a press conference, Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Carl Bell said Crawford explained to detectives that he has “anger issues.”

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