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Police: Mount Vernon Murder Suspect Admits To Cold Case Killings In Yonkers, Bronx

'... Closest Thing To A Serial Killer Mount Vernon Has Seen In A Long Time'
Lucius Crawford after his arrest in December 2012 (credit: Mount Vernon Police Department)

Lucius Crawford after his arrest in December 2012 (credit: Mount Vernon Police Department)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Mount Vernon man charged in connection with the death of a woman found fatally stabbed in his apartment has confessed to two cold case killings in Yonkers and the Bronx, the NYPD announced Wednesday.

Lucius Crawford, 60, has a long history of stabbing women and has done two prison sentences for such crimes, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported.

“This is probably the closest thing to a serial killer Mount Vernon has seen in a long time,” said Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Carl Bell.

Crawford was charged with murder Tuesday after officers found Tonya Simmons, 42, of Mount Vernon, stabbed nine times in the chest under a sheet on his bed, police said.

“She was stabbed multiple times. She is a Mount Vernon resident,” Police Capt. Edward Adinaro told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports

Crawford was not home when police went to his Beekman Avenue basement apartment Tuesday afternoon. What brought police to the residence was a phone call that said a woman had been hurt at the address.

“We subsequently found out that the person who made the phone call was Mr. Crawford, himself,” Bell said. “He called the station twice.”

By coincidence, when police arrived, Bronx and Yonkers detectives were already there investigating Crawford for two cold-case murders 19 years ago. A DNA match had led them there.

Crawford’s next-door neighbor watched as police from several jurisdictions went through the basement apartment.

“It’s awful. My God,” she said. “No listen, I’ve always been apprehensive.”

After his arrest, police said Crawford confessed to fatally stabbing Laronda Shealy of Yonkers on Sept. 13, 1993, and 38-year-old Nella West in the Bronx on Oct. 20, 1993.

“He indicated that he had, I guess, an anger problem,” Adinaro said.

Officers had gone to Crawford’s apartment Tuesday to question him about the Bronx murder after DNA evidence linked him to the cold case, police said.

“This was purely coincidental,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said. “He was apprehended and confessed to all three murders.”

The NYPD had notified Suffolk County Police of the arrest to determine if Crawford has any links to the unsolved Gilgo Beach murders.

“The New York City Police Department did contact the Suffolk County Police Department regarding the arrest of Lucius Crawford for the homicides charged in New York City and Mount Vernon,” Suffolk County police said in a statement. “Homicide detectives from the Suffolk County Police Department were in contact with investigators from the Mount Vernon Police Department and at this point in time there does not appear to be any reason to suspect that Crawford has any involvement with the homicides that occurred in the last several years where bodies were discovered in the vicinity of Gilgo Beach. As in any major criminal investigation law enforcement agencies routinely share information that may be beneficial to ongoing matters.”

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

Crawford’s landlady spoke well of Crawford.

“He’s a good guy,” Martha Leger said.

But police do not agree. Crawford has an extensive history of violence against women dating to 1973.

* In 1976, he was released from custody after serving three years in prison for stabbing a woman twice in each leg in Charleston, S.C.

* In 1977, Crawford was sentenced to 24 years in prison for stabbing five women, ages 14 to 28, over a five-day period in Charleston.

* In 1991, just months after his release, Crawford was sentenced to 184 days in jail after being convicted of assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

* In 2008, Crawford was released on parole after serving 13 years in prison for attempted murder for stabbing a 31-year-old co-worker 13 times. Police said he and the victim had worked together at a Yonkers job placement agency and she rebuffed his sexual advances.

On Tuesday, officers discovered Crawford’s parole tracking ankle bracelet had been removed and was found in the Beekman Avenue apartment.

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