The Culture of High Crime Societies

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Culture and Crime
ANT 230, Sec. 99
Course Code: 2958
Term Paper
Submitted By: Jose Flores

On Tuesday, December 4, 2012 in the early afternoon when a phone call came into the Mount Vernon Police saying a woman was hurt at a residence on Beekman Avenue, the police responded to the residence only to find New York City and Yonkers, NY police officers already at the scene. As it turns out the call was placed by Lucius Crawford, the tenant of the basement apartment at the Beekman Avenue building. And the New York City and Yonkers police were there coincidentally to question Mr. Crawford about the DNA evidence that linked him to the murder of 37 year old Nell West that took place in the Bronx on October 20, 1993. She had been stabbed multiple times in the head, face and torso as well as having her skull crushed by a blunt object. Mr. Crawford was also a suspect in the stabbing murder of Laronda Shealy of Yonkers on September 13, 1993. However, what the police encountered in that home opened up a whole investigation involving the murder/attempted murder and/or assault of up to a dozen women in New York and South Carolina over a period of almost forty years.

What the police discovered was the dead body of forty-one year old Tanya Simmons from New Rochelle under a sheet on a bed in the one room apartment. She had been stabbed nine times in her chest. The police also discovered that Mr. Crawford had somehow removed his parole tracking ankle bracelet and was on the loose. Mr. Crawford was apprehended and arrested three hours later. After his arrest Mr. Crawford was taken into custody and confessed to the murders of Laronda Shealy and Nell West in addition to the murder of Tanya Simmons. He was also being looked at as a possible suspect in the unsolved murders of several women discovered on Long Island’s secluded Gilgo Beach in the last several years. However, it was determined that he was not being considered a suspect because he was incarcerated during the murder of one or more women whose remains were found.

Although not considered in the murders at Gilgo Beach, he still has a very extensive history of violence against women dating back to 1973. In 1976 he was released from prison after serving three years for slashing four women in separate encounters in Charleston, South Carolina; in 1977 he was sentenced to twenty-four years in prison for stabbing five women, ages fourteen to twenty-eight, over a five day period in Charleston, South Carolina; in 1991 just months after his release, Mr. Crawford was sentenced to one hundred and eighty-four days in jail after being convicted of assaulting his ex-girlfriend; in 1993 he allegedly stabs and kills Nella West and Laronda Shealy; 2008, he was released on parole after serving thirteen years in prison for attempted murder for stabbing a thirty-one year old co-worker thirteen times. Police say she was stabbed after rebuffing Mr. Crawford’s sexual advances and in 2012 he confesses and is arrested for the stabbing murder of Tanya Simmons, Nella West and Laronda Shealy.

The Mayor of Mount Vernon, Ernest Davis, said that “Lucius Crawford will be etched in the history of Mount Vernon with the dubious distinction of being the closest thing we have had to a serial killer.” A serial killer is traditionally defined as “ an individual who has killed three or more people over a period of more than a month” or the FBI definition which disregards the “three or more” criteria and defines the term as “a series of two or more murders, committed as separate events, usually, but not always, by one offender acting alone.” As Mr. Crawford’s killing spree has spanned well over a month, perhaps the FBI’s definition would classify Mr. Crawford as a serial killer. In the history of crime, the term “serial killer” was coined by FBI Profiler, Robert Ressler, during the 1970’s. He chose “serial” because in England the police called these types of murders “crimes in a series.” Prior to this,...
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