Trial begins for serial stabbing suspect with Lowcountry ties

Former Union Heights resident Lucius Crawford, 61, is on trial this week for a pair of killings in New York.

A former Charleston man who served prison time for a pair of stabbing sprees in the 1970s is going on trial this week for two knife killings in New York.

The trial for Lucius Crawford, 61, began Monday in Westchester County, N.Y., according to court records.

Crawford is going on trial in the fatal stabbings of two of the three women he's accused of killing in New York, according to The Associated Press.

Crawford was arrested on Dec. 4, 2012, accused in a pair of cold-case homicides and the killing of a 41-year-old woman found stabbed to death in his bed at his Mount Vernon apartment, according to police.

The trial stems from Crawford's charges in connection to one of the 1993 killings and the 2012 slaying of his girlfriend, Tonya Simmons, the AP reported.

Crawford moved to New York after he was released from prison in South Carolina in 1991 following two non-fatal stabbing sprees in the Charleston area.

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.

Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or