MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. — Detectives hoping to finally arrest a suspect in a 19-year-old killing in New York City didn’t find him when they went to his apartment this week. But they made another shocking discovery: The body of a woman who had been stabbed nine times in the chest.
Once he was located, Lucius Crawford further surprised investigators by confessing to killing the 42-year-old woman found in his Mount Vernon, N.Y., home, along with two other victims in 1993, police said Wednesday. The carnage fit a horrific pattern of violence against women that began in South Carolina in the 1970s.
The 60-year-old ex-con told police that he “has anger issues and he did in fact murder this young lady and that he has done this in the past,” Mount Vernon police Commissioner Carl Bell said at a news conference. “He focuses his attacks on young women. He befriends them and at some point he ends up either attacking them or killing them.”
The mayor’s office identified the woman as Tanya Simmons. Police offered no information about her background or the circumstances and timing of her death.
Crawford was arraigned on the murder charge and sent to the Westchester County jail pending another court session Monday. The name of his attorney wasn’t immediately available.
Because of his history, the New York Police Department notified detectives investigating the still-unsolved killings of several women and others found in the past two years on Long Island. The Suffolk County Police said in a statement Wednesday that “there does not appear to be any reason to suspect Crawford” in those slayings.
According to police, Crawford went on a four-day stabbing spree in Charleston in 1973. In each instance, he would approach women and try to talk to them before cutting their arms or legs.
He served a prison term for the stabbings but was at it again in 1977. Over a five-day span, he stabbed five women, ages 14 to 28, on the streets of Charleston. There was another prison term followed by an assault on his ex-girlfriend in 1991 and an arrest for stabbing a woman he worked with in Westchester, north of New York City, after she rebuffed his advances, police said.
Crawford was on parole after serving 13 years for the Westchester stabbing when the NYPD began re-investigating the unsolved killing in October 1993 of a Bronx woman by someone who stabbed her several times and crushed her skull. Detectives ran biological evidence against a DNA database and got a match on Crawford, police said.
The NYPD investigators also learned that Crawford was being eyed in another cold case: the September 1993 stabbing death of a woman in Yonkers.
Detectives from New York and Yonkers went to Crawford’s apartment on Tuesday with his parole officer. When there was no answer, the parole officer let them into the apartment. Along with the body, they found an electronic ankle bracelet used for monitoring parolees, which had been cut off and cast aside, police said.
Crawford was captured about three hours later on a nearby street corner.
Hays reported from New York City. Associated Press Writer Frank Eltman in Mineola, N.Y., contributed to this report.