Links sought for deaths of 6 in Tennessee, Alabama
Three women and an 18-month-old boy are slain in Tennessee, but an infant and toddler are spared. A man wanted for questioning in the homicides is found dead in the Alabama woods, while one of his presumed acquaintances is found shot to death.
The discovery of six bodies in two states Monday and Tuesday presents a puzzling case for authorities as they began searching for clues to confirm that the deaths were somehow linked.
The mystery began Monday. That’s when a 3-year-old boy called relatives from a house outside Fayetteville saying he couldn’t wake up anyone in the home, the boy’s godmother, Constance Winston, told Huntsville, Alabama, television station WAFF.
Family members arriving at the house, about 100 miles south of Nashville, Tenn., found all the doors and windows locked, but were able to coach the child into opening a garage door. When they reached inside to pull him out, they saw blood and called police.
When authorities got there, they found the lifeless bodies of 22-year-old Chabreya Campbell, and her 18-month-old son, Rico Ragland. The body of 21-year-old Amber McCaulley of Huntsville, Ala., was also inside the home.
Hours later, the body of 21-year-old Jessica Brown was found in her home in Fayetteville. Her 2-month-old child was found unharmed.
“I cannot imagine. I cannot imagine. … There’s no reason for anyone to have done something like this,” Winston said.
The 3-year-old’s father, Warren Vincent Crutcher, was found dead in the Alabama woods, just across the Tennessee state line, police said. They did not reveal the cause of death for him, the women or the dead child. Madison County, Alabama, Coroner Craig Whisenant did say that it appeared Crutcher’s death wasn’t a suicide.
Jeffrey Pope, who was identified by local news media as an acquaintance of Crutcher, was fatally shot in Huntsville, police said. Authorities did not confirm the connection between the two men, but they are investigating whether Pope’s death could be linked to the other five, Whisenant said. His body was found in the woods by utility crews, WAFF reported.
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services had no prior involvement with Campbell, Crutcher or the children, spokeswoman Molly Sudderth said Tuesday. She said the slayings would lead DCS to open a case and, if needed, take the 3-year-old into state custody until permanent arrangements could be made for him.
Associated Press writer Bob Johnson contributed to this story from Montgomery, Ala.