Police in Australia have identified a body in Texas as that of Elmer Crawford. Crawford has been on run since 1970 having slaughtered his entire family.
Crawford had been living in the United States under four aliases. Police now believe that DNA testing of Crawford’s only two known male blood relatives, from Northern Ireland, will bring closure to a long list of murder cases.
Elmer Crawford fled Victoria, Australia, in 1970 as a fugitive having murdered his pregnant wife Theresa, 35, and their three children Kathryn, James and Karen. He tortured, electrocuted and beat them with a hammer before sealing their bodies in the family car and pushing it over a cliff.
In 1983 Crawford, using the alias Cameron Harold Frysinger shot dead a two-year-old boy and partly paralyzed his mother in Oklahoma. It was revealed on Monday that Crawford, using the alias Harold Frysinger, died in a hospital in Texas on 31 March 2005.
His finger tips had been damaged deliberately to conceal his identity. He also carried four different forms of identity with different names. In Texas he was known as Harold Frysinger but he also held the names Gerald Brown, Roger Smith and Peter Turner.
Over the years police had few leads. There was once a suspected sighting in Western Australia but there were also rumors that Crawford has gone to Northern Ireland, joined the IRA and been killed.
A break in the case came when a caller phoned in to “Crime Stoppers”, a TV show in Australia, having seen a report on Crawford’s suspect alias. The caller said that Crawford has two male relatives still living in a small town in Northern Ireland.
Detective Ron Iddles, a homicide squad detective working on the case, believed that the caller had supplied enough specific information to convince them that two male relatives are genuine.
He said “We are in the process of contacting the two men to establish if they are relatives and we will be seeking to get DNA from them so we can compare it with the DNA of the unidentified body in the US to see if the dead man is Crawford.”
Two other women, one from Cambridge, near London and the other from Florida, have come forward as blood relatives but it thought that the men from Northern Ireland might have more favorable results.
Trisha Crawford, 59, from Cambridge, near London believes that she is Elmer Crawford’s daughter. Betty Anstis, 70, from Palm Beach, Florida believes that she is Crawford’s half-sister, but some of her facts do not match those of the police.
The DNA testing on the two men in Northern Ireland will take some time but FBI facial recognition experts in Quantico Virginia have carried out various tests on the dead man in Texas and they are convinced that it is Crawford.
Retired first constable Duncan Hales, 92 had worked and thought about the case for years. He said “I’m very happy to see some sort of closure, although nature claimed his life and I’m a bit disappointed he never faced the criminal justice system.
If the tests on the two men from Northern Ireland are inconclusive police are considering exhuming his murdered son James to close the case.