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Craig Chandler PRICE

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Warwick Slaher" - "Iron Man"
 
Classification: Juvenile serial killer
Characteristics: Juvenile (13)
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: 1987 / 1989
Date of birth: 1974
Victims profile: Rebecca Spencer, 27 / Joan Heaton, 39, and her daughters, Jennifer 10, and Melissa 8
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Warwick, Rhode Island, USA
Status: Sentenced 29 years to the jail during various sentences from 1991 to 2007
 
 

 
 
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Craig Price is a juvenile serial killer from Buttonwoods neighbourhoods of Warwick, Rhode Island.

At a minor age of 13 in 1987, Craig Price murdered neighbor Rebecca Spencer, a 27-year-old mother of two, by stabbing her 58 times.

Two years later in 1989, Craig Iron Man Price butchered another neighbor Joan Heaton with 63 times and two of her young daughters using the kitchen knives.

In a nonchalant, matter-of-fact drawl he described the night of terror in the Heaton home. He told how he bit Heaton's face as he knifed her. He mimicked the last sounds of the dying girls.

Craig Price was sentenced 29 years to the jail during various sentences from 1991 to 2007. He will be sealed in the jail until at least 2020, at the time he will be 46.


Craig Chandler Price

The youngest U.S. serial killer of the Archives, Craig was known as the "Slasher of Warwick" after a brutal series of killings in Rhode Island in the late 1980s.

Craig, a black youth from a working class family, is believed to have committed his first murder when he was only 13. The victim was a white female from his neighborhood, whom he "peeped" on dozens of occasions. He stabbed her to death with one of her kitchen knives after breaking into her house.

The murder went unsolved until a few months after Craig's second killing frenzy which took place almost 2 years later, when he was 15. The victims were a white female and her two daughters.

The slashings were so similar to his first known kill that the FBI was called in to profile a serial killer. They failed to finger a 15 year old black male as their suspect. It took an observant detective who noticed Craig with a big cut on his hand to crack the case.

He admitted to committing the murders without any persuasion and, according to the FBI, goes down in history as the youngest serial killer in US history.

Craig is scheduled to be released from the ACI in Cranston, Rhode Island, in 1998. His sentence for murder having been served, he is now doing 2 additional years for contempt. Not a model prisoner Craig now faces an additional twenty years in prison for crimes committed while incarcerated.

The lethal teenager is also a suspect in other unsolved homicides around RI. The FBI and local authorities believe it is only a matter of time that Craig will start killing again.


Craig Price (also known as the Warwick Slasher, born 1974) is a serial killer from Warwick, Rhode Island. He was arrested in 1989 for four murders committed in his neighborhood: A woman and her two daughters that year, and the murder of another woman two years prior. He had a previous criminal record for petty theft.

After he was discovered, Price calmly confessed to his crimes. Arrested a month before his 16th birthday, he was tried and convicted as a minor. By law, this meant that he would be released and his criminal records sealed as soon as he turned 21. Price bragged that he would "make history" when he was released.

The case led to changes in state law to allow juveniles to be tried as adults for serious crimes, but these could not be applied retroactively to Price.

Due to the brutality of his crimes and the opinion of state psychologists that he was a poor candidate for rehabilitation, a group called Citizens Opposed to the Release of Craig Price formed to lobby for his continued imprisonment. Price was charged with a variety of crimes, including criminal contempt for refusing a psychological evaluation, extortion for threatening a corrections officer, and assault and violation of probation for fights while in prison

He was sentenced to an additional 1025 years, depending on his cooperation with treatment.

Price maintains that he has paid his debt to society, and that he is being kept in jail partially due to racism.

Prison violence

On July 29, 2009, Price was involved in a prison fight with another inmate. While trying to break up the fight, one of the correctional officers was stabbed in the finger by a handmade shank in Price's possession. In the wake of the prison fight, Price has been transferred to another facility. An officer from the Rhode Island Department of Corrections said Price has been booked twice for fighting since leaving the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston. Price was recently denied parole in March and his current good time release date is in April 2020. Wall, however, said that date may change after his recent behavior.

 

 

 

Wikipedia.org


Juvenile Serial Killer Remains in Prison

By Helen O'Neill - San Francisco Chronicle

Saturday, December 15, 2007

They called him Iron Man, a hulking teenage football player with a baby face and winsome smile who lived with his parents in a small ranch house in the Buttonwoods section of town.

Then, one summer night in 1987, Craig Price crept across his neighbor's yard, broke into a little brown house on Inez Avenue and stabbed Rebecca Spencer 58 times. She was a 27-year-old mother of two. He was 13.

Two years passed before Price struck again.

Joan Heaton, 39, was butchered with the kitchen knives she had bought earlier that day. The bodies of her daughters, Jennifer 10, and Melissa 8, were found in pools of blood, pieces of knives broken off in their bones; Jennifer had been stabbed 62 times.

Buttonwoods was paralyzed. Police combed the streets. Neighbors padlocked their doors. The Heaton house was just a few hundred yards from the Spencer home and the question hung thick over the tidy, working-class neighborhood: What kind of monster was living in their midst?

The answer came two weeks later.

Price was a wisecracking 15-year-old who had been in minor trouble for petty burglaries "thieving" he called it but who seemed friendly to neighbors and was always surrounded by friends.

Police had become suspicious after Price lied about a deep gash on his finger. They knew from the crime scene that the killer had cut himself. A bloody sock-print matched Price's size-13 feet. They found the knives in his backyard shed.

At the police station, his mother sobbing softly beside him, Price calmly confessed to the four murders.

Yet even as police and prosecutors celebrated the capture of Rhode Island's most notorious serial killer, they were reminded of a grim reality.

In five years, Price would be free to kill again.

Price was a month shy of his 16th birthday. As a juvenile, he would be released from the youth correctional center when he turned 21 the maximum penalty under Rhode Island law at the time. His records would be sealed. The 5-foot-10 inch, 240-pound killer would be free to resume his life as if the murders had never occurred.

The law was on his side and Price knew it.

"When I get out I'm going to smoke a bomber," Price yelled to the crowd, as he was led, handcuffed, from the courthouse.

Jeffrey Pine, then assistant attorney general, said he had never felt such frustration or disgust. "There was something fundamentally wrong with a system that allowed someone who killed four people to simply go free at 21," Pine said.

And so Pine and others embarked on a remarkable mission. They would change the system so that future young murderers could be locked up for life. At the same time they would do their best to ensure that Price himself would stay behind bars long past his 21st birthday.

It was an extraordinary response to an extraordinary case and it involved every level of government, from the governor's and attorney general's offices to the state legislature, the police and the courts.

In effect, the legal system would bend the laws it was sworn to uphold because, despite misgivings by some, many believed that keeping Price behind bars was simply the right thing to do.

*****

Even today, Price's taped confession sounds chillingly surreal. In a nonchalant, matter-of-fact drawl he describes the night of terror in the Heaton home. He tells how he bit Heaton's face as he knifed her. He mimics the last sounds of the dying girls. He whines about cutting his hand.

Detective Tim Colgan, who took Price's confession, went home that night and cried. Colgan had been first on the scene. Never had he witnessed such savagery. Nor such lack of remorse.

Detective Kevin Collins, who assisted with the confession, had never felt such rage. He vowed to do everything in his power to prevent Price from ever walking free.

For years, that is what he did.

With members of the victims' families, he formed Citizens Opposed to the Release of Craig Price, or CORP. He organized rallies, launched fundraisers, appeared on national news shows and in publications: Larry King Live, Time, Newsweek. CORP hired planes to fly banners in major cities around the country declaring "Killer Craig Price. Moving to your city? Beware."

Every time the name Craig Price surfaced, so did the earnest, angry face of a seasoned police officer warning the nation about the murderer who had terrorized his town.

"Craig Price is a serial killer stopped temporarily at four killings," he said. "He should be locked up for life."

Many in the state agreed. Within a month of Price's arrest, the state legislature passed a law allowing juveniles to be tried in adult court for serious crimes. The same measure had failed on two previous occasions.

But the law couldn't be applied retroactively to Price. Collins and Pine knew they needed to do more.

Pine's chance came when he was elected attorney general in 1992.

He pushed for legislation to allow judges to consider criminal records in deciding whether someone should be committed to a psychiatric hospital. Known as the Craig Price Bill, it passed in 1994.

He flew to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., to seek the advice of Greg McCrary, a national expert on serial killers. McCrary had profiled hundreds of murderers. But rarely had he encountered anyone as violent as Price. Less than 1 percent of killers are that frenzied, he told Pine. And, so far, society has found no way to treat them.

In a detailed report, McCrary described Price as a human predator who showed no empathy or remorse and was highly likely to kill again. State psychologists were saying the same thing.

Nothing in Price's background explained his rage. By all accounts he was from a stable home where both parents worked to provide a comfortable life for their children.

Wesley Profit, a Massachusetts psychiatrist who examined Price on behalf of the state, wrote in 1990 that Price was a serial killer who was "in a psychotic rage at the time of the murders." He is "in dire need of extensive treatment," Profit continued, "and even then may not be in a position to be safely placed in the community."

The reports were more tools for the state, Pine said. "We were looking at everything."

*****

In many ways, the best tool turned out to be Price himself.

On the advice of his court-appointed lawyer, Price refused a court order to undergo further psychological testing, fearing the results would be used to commit him for life. His refusals allowed Pine's office to file contempt-of-court charges in 1994. When Price flew into a rage and threatened to "snuff out" a corrections officer, Pine seized the opportunity to file extortion charges.

It was an extraordinary indictment. No one could remember an inmate being charged for what many considered routine language in the youth prison.

"We were dealing with a quadruple murderer who had threatened to kill again," Pine said, "And we were going to prosecute him to the full extent of the law."

But he was also dealing with a growing public demand for action, fueled by fear of Price's imminent release. Price's 21st birthday was on Oct. 11, 1994.

Media reports describing the young killer's life behind bars stoked the fear. There were stories about how Price had beefed up to 300 pounds by lifting weights, how he had made a controversial rap video about killing a cop, how he boasted freely about "making history" when he was released.

Even President Clinton couldn't avoid the furor surrounding Price. In May 1994 when Clinton flew to Providence he was greeted by demonstrators holding banners demanding that the "Warwick Slasher" remain locked up. Pressed in a television interview, Clinton said he thought it was "outrageous that this kid could get out."

Gov. Bruce Sundlun was saying the same thing.

"Everyone in state government shares your concerns," he told the crowd at a candlelit vigil outside Warwick City Hall in June 1994. "Everyone in state government wants to blow out the candle on Craig Price and keep him behind bars."

But the state still had to figure out ways to do so. A major test was the extortion trial.

Patrick Youngs, who prosecuted the case and still works in the attorney general's office, remembers hyperventilating as he waited for the verdict. It was days before Price's 21st birthday. The whole state was watching. Television stations were cutting into soap operas to report the outcome. Youngs knew the judge would not be swayed by public pressure. And he knew he had a very weak case.

By now Price had a new lawyer, Robert Mann, one of the state's most respected civil rights advocates with a reputation for taking on tough cases. In court, Mann accused the attorney general's office of twisting the laws to selectively prosecute Price. The state was essentially using two sets of laws, he argued, one for everyone else and one for Price.

But Price sealed his own fate. Found guilty by a jury, he delivered a belligerent, rambling diatribe about how he had paid his dues to society and how he was now being persecuted because of his race. "The media has once again done a good job of creating a monster," he said, his voice thundering through the stunned courtroom. "Not just a bogeyman, but a black bogeyman."

"The judge got a glimpse," Youngs said. "And that was all he needed."

Price was sentenced to 15 years, seven to serve and eight suspended. He spent his 21st birthday in the Adult Correctional Institution.

Citizens Opposed to the Release of Craig Price spent it at a candlelit vigil at the state house.

*****

"The test of the system is not whether some middle-class white kid caught with an ounce of marijuana gets a fair shake," Mann says. "The test is whether someone portrayed as larger than life evil gets a fair shake."

There was no doubt that Price tested the limits of the system.

"People said we bent the system," Youngs said. "We didn't. We did our best within the rules."

For more than a decade, the state continued to find creative ways way to charge and convict Price. The criminal contempt charge stemming from Price's earlier refusals to submit to psychiatric testing went forward and brought a one-year sentence even though, on the advice of Mann, Price had since agreed to the tests. Fights in prison led to assault charges. The state even took the unusual step of charging Price with violation of probation while he was in prison.

Every conviction added more time. And every conviction brought more headlines about the state's tireless efforts to protect the public from Craig Price.

Several appeals went to the state Supreme Court. Always, Price lost.

Mann wasn't the only one who questioned the lengths to which the state went. Mental health advocates had bitterly opposed the law allowing courts to consider criminal records in commitment proceedings. The state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union consistently criticized the state's tactics.

"The pressure that was brought to bear to keep him in prison is the same pressure that condemns innocent people to prison and to death," Steven Brown, the branch's executive director, said in 1994.

Yet lawmakers, prosecutors and judges were faced with an agonizing dilemma: What should society do with a psychopathic killer it cannot legally lock up for life?

In May 1997 Price appeared before Chief District Court Judge Albert DeRobbio after a jury convicted him of criminal contempt. Three years earlier DeRobbio had sentenced Price to one year for the same charge, believing it was the maximum he could impose. Subsequently the Supreme Court ruled that judges had unlimited sentencing power in such cases.

At 77 and still head of the District Court, DeRobbio is the respected elder statesman of the Rhode Island judiciary. From his courtroom on Dorrance Street, DeRobbio has handed down thousands of sentences and seen his share of murderers.

The Price sentencing, he says, was the most difficult decision of his career.

Contempt charges usually result in a fine, not jail time. Yet the state was begging DeRobbio to put Price away for life.

DeRobbio could weigh public health and safety, but not public fear. He could take into account the murders, but he could not sentence Price for those crimes.

"I did not feel that I could, in conscience, sentence him to life on a contempt charge," DeRobbio said.

And so he gave 25 years, 10 to serve and the remaining 15 years if Price got into trouble or refused treatment.

"I felt that to put him on hold for 25 years would be to put a hold on many, many things," DeRobbio said. "And maybe, in that time, some form of treatment could be found."

*****

Price has written many letters over the years, to judges and prison officials and the media, complaining about his incarceration. Long ago, he says, he paid his debt for his juvenile crimes.

"The state was effectively organized not to rehabilitate me, but to incarcerate me," Price said in court in 2004. "They were looking for anything to lock me up."

Many felt that was true, but that the state had no other choice.

"We had a unique combination of the state's most heinous crime committed by one of its youngest criminals," Pine says. "It was a chaotic, emotional time, and I think we did a good job of making the system work."

There is no doubt that Price left a lasting legacy on the juvenile justice system in Rhode Island. Today, a 15-year-old serial killer would immediately be referred to adult court, and likely sentenced to life without parole.

There are currently 10 juveniles imprisoned or awaiting trial in the Adult Correctional Center.

Price himself ended up in court many more times for assault, violation of probation, and various appeals. In 2004 he was transferred to the Florida Department of Corrections as part of a routine interstate transfer. Florida prison officials refused to allow him to be interviewed, citing "security reasons."

Price's current scheduled release date is December 2020. He will be 46.


Craig Price: Confessions of a teenage serial killer

By Rachael Bell


The Heaton Murders

On September 4, 1989, Marie Bouchard went to check on her daughter Joan Heaton, 39, and her two grandchildren, Jennifer, 10, and Melissa, 8, at their home on Metropolitan Drive in the Buttonwoods area of Warwick, R.I. She was concerned because she hadn't heard from them over the Labor Day weekend. Marie's other daughter, Mary Lou, accompanied her to Joan's house. It was a visit that would change their lives forever.

When Marie and Mary Lou went to the house, they found it unusual that no one answered the door when they called. They knew Joan must have been nearby because her car was still parked in the driveway, so they rang the doorbell several more times. Still, there was no answer. They decided to take a look inside the house.

When they entered, they immediately knew something was terribly wrong. The interior was splattered with blood and a putrid smell permeated the air. As they walked further into the house, they made a heart-wrenching discovery.

They saw Joan lying beneath blood-soaked sheets in the hallway. Her oldest daughter, Jennifer, was lying nearby and Melissa was on the kitchen floor. All three had been brutally murdered.

Marie and Mary Lou were horror stricken. Just days earlier Marie had spent the day with Joan and her grandchildren shopping and enjoying time together. It was hard to imagine that they were all dead.

The mother and daughter called the police soon after they discovered the bodies. Within moments, rescue workers arrived on the scene followed shortly thereafter by detectives. The house was cordoned off and an investigation of the crime scene began.

Detectives were shocked at the savagery of the crime. Even the most seasoned investigators had difficulty holding back tears. All the victims had been stabbed multiple times with kitchen knives. The youngest child, Melissa, was stabbed so fiercely that one of the blades actually broke off in her neck. She also had her skull bashed in with a kitchen stool. Apart from the 57 stab wounds inflicted on her body, Joan was also bludgeoned and strangled. It was believed that they were murdered three days prior to the discovery.

Detectives were shocked at the savagery of the crime. Even the most seasoned investigators had difficulty holding back tears. All the victims had been stabbed multiple times with kitchen knives. The youngest child, Melissa, was stabbed so fiercely that one of the blades actually broke off in her neck. She also had her skull bashed in with a kitchen stool. Apart from the 57 stab wounds inflicted on her body, Joan was also bludgeoned and strangled. It was believed that they were murdered three days prior to the discovery.


Looking for Leads

The Warwick Police Department had their finest working on the case. They were determined to catch the person responsible for the murders and they worked day and night reviewing evidence and interviewing locals who might have information related to the crime. They also enlisted one of the FBI's top profilers, Gregg O. McCrary, to assist in the investigation.

McCrary stated in his book The Unknown Darkness, that he believed the murderer was likely someone from the Heaton's neighborhood. Moreover, he suggested the crime was probably connected with another unsolved murder that took place two years earlier in Buttonwoods. The coincidences between the crimes were significant.

In July 1987, Rebecca Spencer, 27, was found dead in her living room. She had been stabbed repeatedly with a packing knife. At the time of her death she was preparing to move to another neighborhood.

In both the Heaton and the Spencer cases, the killer used a weapon that was already present in the house. This presented strong evidence that the killer originally entered the residence for another purpose, such as to burglarize the house. It is likely that the intruder was caught unaware and murdered the eyewitnesses using what McCrary referred to as a "weapon of opportunity."

Robbers often burglarize houses they know. The more familiar you are with the contents of a house, the more successful your robbery will be. Consequently, burglars regularly choose to rob houses that are close to where they live. McCrary suggested that in both cases the murderer likely entered the residences with the intention of robbing and probably was familiar with the houses and/or residents. Moreover, he believed the murderer lived in the Buttonwoods area because both crimes were committed five houses from one another.

Another similarity between the cases was an unusual display of "overkill." Joan and Rebecca were stabbed approximately 60 times each, and the children approximately 30 times. Due to the excessive nature of the crimes, it was highly probable that the same person committed the murders.

McCrary suggested to investigators that the "frenetic manner of the stabbing," used to kill the Heatons likely resulted in the murderer stabbing his own hand. He told them that they should look for someone in the neighborhood with a cut or bandaged hand. McCrary's advice was of great use to investigators because it significantly narrowed the search for a suspect. They had a location in which to begin and a possible characteristic of the suspect. All they needed was some luck.


Breakthrough

On September 5, 1989, just one day after the bodies were discovered, investigators got their first real break in the case. According to Denise Lang's book, A Call for Justice, police detectives Ray Pendergast and Mark Brandreth were driving through a park near Buttonwoods, "when Pendergast spotted a familiar face." They stopped the car to talk to a neighborhood boy named Craig Price, 15, who Pendergast once coached in a local basketball program.

Pendergast asked the youth if he heard about the murders. Craig responded with concern that he was aware of what had happened and that he had seen the bodies coming out of the house the day before. He lived just a few doors away from the Heaton family.

During the conversation, Pendergast and Brandreth noticed that Craig had a bandage on his hand. Suspicious, Pendergast asked how he hurt himself. Craig claimed that he got drunk several nights earlier and punched his hand through a car window on Keeley Avenue. As the detectives pulled away they could not help but wonder if Craig was telling the truth about his hand. Why would he admit to two police officers that he vandalized a car?

It seemed unlikely that a teenager would commit such ghastly crimes as the Heaton murders, let alone such a good-humored and vivacious kid as Craig. However, the fact that the boy had a cut on his hand and lived on the same street as the Heatons was too much of a coincidence to ignore. It was something both officers felt compelled to follow up on, which they did.

The detectives wrote up a report and began to investigate Craig's story. They learned that there was no police report of a car window being smashed in the area Craig mentioned. They also went to Keeley Avenue and found no evidence of glass on the street. The two detectives began to further doubt Craig's story.

Craig became a viable suspect in the Heaton murders. Even though many in the department believed the officers were wasting their time investigating him, Pendergast and Brandreth decided to follow their gut feelings and pursue Craig as a lead. They just needed more evidence to support their theory.

In the meantime, expert blood analyst Dr. Henry Lee was contacted by police and asked to examine the Heatons' residence for clues. He went to the house and analyzed the blood splatters and trails. During his investigation, he gathered vital clues from the crime scene including a bloody sock imprint. Whoever left the imprint wore a size 13 shoe.


Suspect

Craig Price was not an average teenager. At age 15, he already had a history of offenses including a record of breaking and entering, theft, peeping into houses and using drugs. He was also known to have a violent temper. Police had been called to his house on more than one occasion to settle disputes in which he was involved.

Investigators working on the Heaton case decided it was time to question Craig more thoroughly. They went to Craig's house and asked him to come with his parents to the police station, which they did. During questioning, Craig was asked more detailed questions about how he cut his hand. He maintained his story that he hurt himself while trying to break into a car. Investigators were not convinced and asked him to take a lie-detector test.

The following day, Craig submitted to a polygraph. He was asked questions relating to how he cut his hand. The test revealed that Craig was lying. According to Lang, "it was the first big break in the case."

Even though the polygraph proved that Craig was dishonest, however, it didn't prove that he was involved in the murders. Investigators needed more evidence.

During interviews with Craig's friends and acquaintances, investigators learned that he ran with a gang of juvenile delinquents who were known to burglarize houses. More significantly, they discovered that Craig boasted about killing Rebecca Spencer. It was the first evidence they had connecting Craig to a murder. Investigators were quick to obtain a search warrant for his house.

Detectives Kevin Collins, Arthur Anderson and Tim Colgan organized a search team. They devised a plan to set up overnight surveillance of the house before actually going in to search the residence. They wanted to make sure Craig was there and didn't leave the premises.

In the early morning hours of September 17, detectives gave the signal to move in on the house. A team of officers led by Collins, Anderson and Colgan rang the doorbell. Craig's father answered the door and was shocked to see the police on his doorstep. He had no choice but to let them in.

The rest of the family, including Craig, his mother and brother were awakened and asked to sit in the living room during the search. They were all visibly distressed by the drama, except for Craig who dozed off to sleep on the couch. It didn't take investigators long to find what they were looking for.

While searching the shed behind the house, a trash bag was found full of incriminating evidence. Within the bag were several bloody knives from the Heaton household, along with bloodied articles of clothing, gloves and other objects. Investigators woke up Craig and arrested him for the murders of Joan, Jennifer and Melissa. Surprisingly, he seemed unaffected.

Craig was ushered from his house to the police station with his parents in tow. He was booked, then interrogated about the murders. The detectives hoped Craig would come clean about his crimes. They got more than expected.


Craig's Confessions

During the interview, Craig amazed detectives when he immediately confessed to the Heaton murders. He described in detail the events of the fateful night, although his story periodically changed. Eventually, he became worn out and decided that it was easier to tell the truth. According to Lang, "what came out of his mouth next stunned even the most experienced and jaded listeners and sent his father, John Price, to the men's room to vomit, rendering him unable to return."

Craig's horrified mother stood by her son as he recounted the events that took place at the Heaton residence approximately two weeks earlier. He told his interrogators that his primary intention was to burglarize the house. He said that he found an open window in the kitchen, which he crawled through. He accidentally landed on a table, which broke but, despite the noise, he continued in the burglary.

He claimed that he walked through the residence looking for items to steal. He didn't realize that the noise had awakened Joan. She walked into the kitchen and spotted Craig when she turned on the light. In a state of panic, Craig said that he grabbed Joan, then beat and strangled her. Joan's screams woke up the children who stumbled out of their beds to the hallway. Melissa ran to the kitchen to call the police but Craig overpowered her.

Craig tackled the girls to the floor, then went to the kitchen, grabbed some knives and began to stab them all. During the attack, one of the girls bit Craig's hand. In a fit of rage, he bit the girl back on the face. Craig also bit Joan. Moreover, he smashed the youngest girl over the head with a stool, when she continued to struggle against him. Craig didn't expect that the three would put up such a fight, but they did. They fought until they succumbed to their injuries.

Craig said that during the murders he had accidentally stabbed his hand. He removed the gloves he was wearing and tended to his injuries in the bathroom. He didn't realize that he left a trail of blood and sock prints behind him.

Evidence collected from the crime scene was later found to support Craig's story. The blood analysis conducted by Dr. Lee showed that some of the blood samples matched Craig's blood type. Moreover, Craig's shoe size was the same as the sock prints. There was no doubt he was telling the truth.

Craig further admitted to covering the Heatons' bodies with blankets, probably out of shame for what he had done. He then tried to clean up the crime scene with towels but he feared that if he stayed too long police would catch him. He quickly gathered the knives, gloves and some of the bloodied towels and sprinted from the scene.

Craig said he immediately returned to his home several doors away. He confessed that he hid his blood-soaked clothes in a bag in the attic. Detectives were alerted to the evidence and later found the bag in the precise location where Craig said it could be found.

Following Craig's detailed account of the Heaton murders, he surprised detectives again. When asked about Rebecca Spencer, Craig admitted that he also killed her. He was just 13 years old at the time.

Craig had no difficulty remembering his first murder. He provided investigators with details of the night in question, while showing little remorse for what he had done. After his confession, a wave of disgust mixed with relief passed over the detectives. Four murders solved within the space of several hours was a rare break.

Investigators working on the case were glad they finally had their man. They just hoped Craig would get what he deserved for the atrocities he committed, preferably a very long prison sentence. They would have a long wait.


Slipping Under the Wire

Craig Price had the law on his side. Despite the brutal murders he committed, Craig would never have to face a trial or serve prison time because he confessed to his crimes just weeks before his 16th birthday. According to Rhode Island state law, all the courts could do was hold him in a training school until his 21st birthday and no longer. Thus after five years, Craig would be a free man with a clean record.

The thought of Craig serving only five years for four brutal murders enraged the citizens of Rhode Island, especially the families of the victims. It was obvious that the law was working against them. However, at the time of Craig's offense, teenage serial killers below the age of 16 were a rare phenomenon. In fact, Craig was considered to be one of the country's youngest serial killers.

Even though Craig could not be tried for the murders, he still had to undergo a court hearing before he could be placed in the training school. On September 21, 1989 Craig appeared before Judge Carmine R. DiPetrillo at the Kent County Courthouse. During the brief proceedings, Craig was presented with the murder and burglary charges against him, to which he pleaded guilty.

Craig was ordered to serve five years at the Rhode Island Training School's Youth Correctional Center (YCC), a maximum-security detention facility. He was also ordered to undergo intense psychological examination and therapy. However, Craig refused treatment. Moreover, he refused to officially discuss the murders at all by pleading the Fifth Amendment.

Craig withdrew from the diagnostic and treatment program arranged by the judge on the advice of his lawyers. According to court documents, the reasoning behind the decision was based on fears that the psychiatric examination might, "result in his being placed in a psychiatric facility for commitment beyond his twenty-first birthday." Despite court intervention, Craig stuck to his guns and refused to submit to any psychological measures.

In the meantime, Craig carried on with life within the institution. He completed his high school equivalency test and began taking satellite college courses. He believed he needed to improve himself academically so that he could get a good job when he was let out of the YCC.

By 1993, Craig developed a reputation for good behavior within the training school, despite the fact that he refused treatment. In fact, he was in such good standing that his superiors granted him permission to counsel other youths at the facility. Moreover, Gina Macris suggested in a 1993 article in The Providence Journal that Craig also performed light security duties, which included patrolling the school's hallways. Craig was even allowed to make a rap video at the school, which included threatening lyrics.

When the news broke of Craig's special treatment at the facility, Rhode Island citizens and the families of the victims demanded that it be stopped. After much protest it ended, but the bigger problem still remained. Time was running short and Craig's release date was steadily approaching. There was less than one and a half years to work out a way to prevent him from being freed.


The Campaign

Four figures were instrumental in the campaign to stop Craig's release. They were Joan Heaton's mother, Marie; her sister, Mary Lou; Capt. Kevin Collins, who led the Heaton investigation; and Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Pine. From the beginning, they lobbied the Rhode Island legislature to institute new bills to prevent Craig's release and others like him. Moreover, they went out of their way to inform the world of Craig's crimes and his upcoming release. Together, they tried every possible avenue to prevent Craig from having the chance to murder again.

In 1990, Pine and Collins were key figures in instigating the passing of the O'Neil bill, which toughened sentences on teenage murderers. In 1993, Pine introduced a controversial bill that would give the Office of the Attorney General the power to civilly commit a mentally ill individual to a mental institution if the person posed a danger to society. Many thought the bill would discriminate against the mentally ill and give those with psychological problems a bad name. It was also argued that the bill specifically targeted Craig and could be used to prevent him from ever being freed.

Pine stood his ground. His main interest was making sure Craig stayed locked up for as long as possible. Lang quoted Pine as saying, "I will do everything I can to prevent another tragedy." Much to his delight and that of the families of the victims, the Craig Price Bill was passed that same year. It was a huge step, which they hoped would result in Craig being forced to submit to a psychiatric diagnostic and treatment program.

In October 1993, Collins organized Citizens Opposed to the Release of Price (CORP). The nonprofit organization concentrated on raising funds that would be used to increase public awareness about Craig's crimes and assist with lobbying efforts. The goal was to get critical bills passed that would prevent Craig from being released.

Marie and Mary Lou also helped lead the growing campaign. They traveled throughout the state alerting the general public about Craig's upcoming release. According to a Time article by Jill Smolowe, the group worked endlessly, rallying to get funding, petitions signed and information to the public, hoping to "make Price's name a household word." Within months the organization attracted hundreds of volunteers, raised tens of thousands of dollars and gained national attention.

In the interim, Craig was preparing himself to begin a new life. By the end of the year he had already been ordered on six occasions to adhere to mandatory psychiatric evaluations and therapy. Nonetheless, he continued to refuse for fear that he would be forced into a mental institution after his five years at the training school. However, his days of hiding behind the Fifth Amendment were numbered.

In May 1994, President Bill Clinton flew to Providence, where he was scheduled to meet and discuss state affairs. Thousands of demonstrators and a circling airplane that carried the banner "Alert! Killer of 4 Craig Price Moving Here!" greeted Clinton as he arrived in the city. It was clear that the citizens of Rhode Island wanted something done about the Craig Price matter, and they were not going to give up until the problem was solved.

In a televised interview, Clinton expressed his dismay about Craig being let out in approximately six months. He suggested that the records of juvenile offenders should not be sealed but publicly accessible. He also mentioned that the laws needed to be changed to prevent juveniles with a violent history from purchasing firearms.

Just 15 days after Clinton aired his comments, Rhode Island lawmakers reviewed bills concerning public access to juvenile criminal records and juvenile gun laws. However, the problem concerning Craig's release was still unanswered. Craig's luck was about to change.

On June 8, 1994, Rhode Island residents were shocked to learn that Craig was indicted on one count of simple assault and extortion for threatening to injure Officer Mark Petrella, a training school employee. One week later, Craig was arraigned and bail was set at $500,000. His trial was scheduled for later that fall.

That same month Craig faced another problem. His refusal to submit to psychiatric examinations and therapy had gone on too long. He was warned that he was in danger of being held in contempt of court if he failed to undergo treatment. Yet, he would not sway.

Craig's hearing took place on June 27 at the Providence County Family Court before Judge S. Jeremiah Jr. During the proceedings, Craig was again ordered to undergo a psychiatric exam but his answer remained the same. The judge found him in civil contempt and added an extra year to his incarceration to be served at the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston, Rhode Island. The only way that Craig could reduce the sentence was by submitting to the court order.

After almost five years, Craig finally complied with the order and agreed to undergo a psychiatric assessment. Dr. Barnum, a forensic psychiatrist and former head of the Boston Juvenile Court Clinic, led the evaluation. Even though Craig participated in the assessment, he didn't do it whole-heartedly. In fact, it was discovered that he lied about many of the events concerning the murders. It was a matter that would later be addressed by the Family and District Courts. In the meantime, all eyes were focused on the upcoming trial.


Judgment Day

On October 3, 1994, Craig's trial began at the Superior Court in Providence. It was a long-awaited showdown that held the media and country in suspense. A majority of those who packed the courtroom were anxious to see if justice would finally prevail. They wouldn't have to wait very long.

Overhearing the case was Judge Thomas Needham. Attorney's Robert Mann and Katie Hynes led the defense team. Prosecutors Patrick Youngs and Mike Stone represented the state's case against Craig.

The hushed courtroom listened intently to the opening statements made by Stone, as he ushered in one of the state's most highly publicized trials. He told jurors that they would learn how Craig verbally assaulted Petrella, after he was given a disciplinary report to sign for possession of contraband material (cigarettes and a lighter). Moreover, they would hear how Craig threatened the officer if he continued his job at the facility. The prosecution planned to introduce five witnesses.

Mann's statements followed those of the prosecution. When he addressed the jury, he didn't deny that Craig was angry at Petrella's report or that he used inappropriate language during the confrontation. However, he stated that he would introduce witnesses who would prove that Craig never assaulted or extorted Petrella.

After the opening statements, the prosecution called their first witness, Mark Petrella. For two hours Petrella gave a detailed account of the confrontation and how Craig verbally attacked him using profane language and then threatened to "snuff" him if he ever returned to work. He also said that several officers witnessed the incident and tried unsuccessfully to calm Craig's increasingly volatile behavior.

Jurors also heard the testimony of four other witnesses who worked at the training school. Their stories agreed with Petrella's account. Author Lang claimed that at the end of the day the state rested its case, pleased that it, "had gotten their point across and the facts had not been contradicted."

The next day as the proceedings were set to continue, Mann asked to excuse the jury so that he could address the court alone. Once the jury had left, Mann asked the court for an acquittal based on insufficient evidence. The judge denied the request and ordered the continuation of the proceedings.

As the trial commenced, the defense team introduced Antwyon Carter as their first witness. Carter was an employee at the training school who witnessed the argument first hand between Petrella and Craig. During his testimony, he claimed that he never heard Craig use the word "snuff" against Petrella. Moreover, he suggested that he didn't take any security measures during or after the incident because he didn't believe the dispute was a life-threatening situation.

However, during cross-examination by the prosecution, Carter contradicted himself by indicating that Craig's actions were threatening. The defense's case was weakened by Carter's statement. They decided it was time to bring on another witness who worked at the facility. Yet, when the man took the stand, he also suggested that Craig acted in a threatening way towards Petrella. The defense's case began to fall apart.

The next day, Mann decided to let Craig testify on his own behalf. It was the moment everyone waited for. All eyes turned their attention to Craig when he recounted the argument he had with Petrella.

Craig told the jury that after the cigarettes and lighter were found in his possession, Petrella gave him the impression that he would not report the incident. He suggested that he was surprised and then angered when Petrella presented him with the disciplinary report later that day. He admitted to shouting profanity at the officer but denied having ever threatened to "snuff" him out. Craig believed that Petrella's report was part of a conspiracy to keep him locked up.

During cross-examination by the prosecution, Craig flew into a rage, claiming that everyone lied to get him in trouble. He told awed listeners that he was the only honest person who had taken the stand during the trial. In fact, he accused prosecutors of being at the head of the conspiracy to put him behind bars permanently.

Craig's outburst marked the end of the trial. Both the defense and prosecution teams prepared to present their closing arguments for the following day. By the time the news of Craig's testimony hit the stand, many believed that his hope of attaining freedom was a lost cause. It was only a matter of time.


The Verdict

On October 6, 1994, the defense and the prosecution teams presented their closing arguments. Following brief but powerful arguments, the jury retired to deliberate on the case. It would take them a day to reach a decision.

The next afternoon the jury returned their verdict. Craig was found guilty on both counts of extortion and simple assault. According to Lang, when the verdict was read, "those listening seemed to feel that what he was really found guilty of was the long-ago murders." Relief spread throughout much of the courtroom as fears of Craig returning to society rapidly diminished.

That December, a hearing was held to determine Craig's punishment. Judge Needham sentenced him to 15 years, eight of which were suspended, at the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston. Craig's problems weren't over yet.

According to a 2004 article in The Providence Journal, Craig bit a correctional officer's finger during a brawl in February 1996. The article stated that prosecutors took "the uncommon step" of charging him for probation violation, even though he was still imprisoned. He was also charged with assault. Craig was found guilty of the accusations and sentenced to an additional year in prison.

The next year, Craig was placed on trial for criminal contempt because he failed to comply with the psychological evaluations ordered by the state. The charges against him stemmed from complaints from psychiatrists who claimed that he lied about the events surrounding the murders. During the trial, Craig admitted to the charges and he was eventually found guilty. According to court records, Craig received an additional 25 years on top of his other sentences. Ten of the years were to be served outright with 15 years probation.

In October 1998, seven more years were added to Craig's sentence for assaulting a correctional officer. It would not be his last time. In February 1999 and again in October 2001, Craig was sentenced to a total of four more years for again verbally and physically assaulting correctional officers.

To date, there is no telling exactly when Craig Price will ever be released from prison. His projected release date is scheduled for February 2022. However, some don't expect Craig will be released until well after the date, because of his continuing volatile behavior towards prison guards. Many Rhode Islanders prefer it that way.

CrimeLibrary.com


SEX: M RACE: B TYPE: T MOTIVE: PC/Sad.

MO: Home invader; beat/stabbed females age 8 to 39.

DISPOSITION: Pled guilty in juvenile court; confined until age 21.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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