Crawford family murder

The Crawford family murder was the killing of pregnant mother Therese Crawford and her three children at their home in Glenroy, Victoria, Australia, in July 1970. The family car was located at the bottom of a cliff at Loch Ard Gorge in Port Campbell on 2 July with the bodies of the four victims still inside.[3] The husband and father of the decedents, Elmer Kyle Crawford (b. May 1930), is the prime suspect in the murders and has not been seen since.[4]

Crawford family murders
Therese, Katherine, James, and Karen Crawford, circa 1969
Date1-2 July 1970
Location136 Cardinal Road, Glenroy, Victoria, Australia
37°41′56″S 144°55′48″E / 37.698896°S 144.930003°E / -37.698896; 144.930003 (approximate)
MotiveUnknown. Possible financial gain and/or rage[1]
ParticipantsElmer Kyle Crawford
  • Therese Crawford (35)
  • Katherine Jane Crawford (12)
  • James William Crawford (8)
  • Karen Jean Crawford (6)
BurialFawkner Memorial Park, Merri-bek, Victoria[2]

Investigation edit

Two weeks before the murders, Elmer Crawford, an employee of the Victoria Racing Club (VRC), and his pregnant wife Therese drafted new wills that left a considerable fortune to Elmer in the event of his family's death.[5] At the time of the murders, the couple had three children: Katherine Jane (aged 12), James William (aged 8), and Karen Jean (aged 6). It is believed by investigators that the impending arrival of their fourth child and Therese's mental state were the triggers for the murders.[6] Another factor could have been the theft of goods by Elmer from the VRC.[7]

A July 1971 coroner's inquest found that Elmer, who had emigrated from Ireland in 1951,[8] murdered his wife and three children at the family's home in Cardinal Road, Glenroy. Elmer had constructed an electrocution device, using a 15-metre (49 ft) length of electrical lead and alligator clips, which he attached to his wife's ears while she slept before electrocuting her.[9] He then battered Karen to death, presumably using the hammer found in the car,[5] and electrocuted both Katherine and James.

Crawford's 1956 Holden FE sedan is winched to the top of Loch Ard Gorge on the afternoon of 2 July 1970

Elmer then loaded the blanket-wrapped bodies, along with a motorbike, fuel cans, rifle and hose, into the family's Holden FE sedan. He then drove them 200 kilometres (120 mi) to Port Campbell, where he connected the hose from the exhaust to the driver's side window before pushing the car over the cliff edge in an effort to frame his wife by making the crime look like a murder-suicide.[10][11] To aid the vehicle's movement, he had also laid a stone pathway across a drainage ditch in front of the vehicle.

Search edit

Elmer, who was last seen in his driveway on the day of the vehicle's discovery, has been missing since the murders, although he was reportedly spotted in 1994 in Western Australia by an acquaintance.[12] A reward of A$100,000 was offered in 2008 for information leading to his arrest.[3] In July 2010, Victorian Police announced that they were, in conjunction with the FBI, attempting to identify a man, via facial recognition technology, who died in 2005 in San Angelo, Texas, United States, that they believed to be Elmer. The man had no fingerprints and carried multiple identity documents. It was announced on 27 August 2010 that comparison of DNA from a Crawford blood relative ruled out any connection to the body in the US.[13]

Media edit

An episode of Sensing Murder titled "Almost Perfect" which aired on 30 May 2006 featured the crime.[14] Detailed investigation in Greg Fogarty's 2011 book, Almost Perfect: The True Story of the Crawford Family Murders, takes a close look at the case from the perspective of someone who lived in the same street at the time of the crime. The case was also detailed in a 2016 episode of Felon True Crime Podcast.[6]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Killer Crawford Still Haunts Ex-cop". The Standard (Warrnambool). 13 July 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  2. ^ "US Corpse May Be Key to Vic Mass Murder". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 July 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  3. ^ a b Police flooded with tips after posting murder suspect reward, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 25 February 2008
  4. ^ Gore, Alyssa. "Familicide: Loving Your Family Too Much Or Not Enough. The Crawford Family Murders". Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  5. ^ a b Elmer Crawford electrocuted family, bashed daughter, Herald Sun, 11 February 2008
  6. ^ a b "Felon - S1E1 - The Crawford Family". Audioboom. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Crawford electrocuted, bashed family". 10 February 2008. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  8. ^ Malkin, Bonnie (15 July 2010). "Irish woman 'holds key to 40-year-old Australian murder mystery'". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  9. ^ "'The most wanted man in Australia': Irish emigrant still hunted by police almost 50 years after brutal murders". Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  10. ^ Koubaridis, Andrew (24 August 2015). "Elmer Crawford has avoided the police for more than 40 years". Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  11. ^ Where is Elmer Crawford?, The Age, 1 July 2005
  12. ^ "The Aussie mass killer cops can't catch". NewsComAu. 24 August 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Texas body not that of Victorian killer" Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 27 August 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2010
  14. ^ "Sensing Murder" - Almost Perfect, Internet Movie Database, Retrieved 13 May 2008

Cited works and further reading edit

  • Fogarty, Greg (1997). Almost Perfect: The True Story of the Brutal, Unsolved Crawford Family Murders. Bloomington: Penon Publishing. ISBN 978-1-450-28516-2.
  • Ford, Justine (2015). Unsolved Australia: Terrible Crimes, Incredible Stories. Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia. ISBN 978-1-743-53436-6.

External links edit