The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 23, 2012

Person named in slayings found dead, arrested here earlier this month

The News Courier

From staff, wire reports

A man who was described by authorities as a person of interest in connection to at least five homicides in Lincoln County, Tenn., and Huntsville was arrested in Limestone County earlier this month on an indictment stemming from a 2011 assault and burglary case.

An arrest warrant for Warren Vincent Crutcher, 24, of 981 Dan Crutcher Road, Toney, said he was “armed and dangerous.” He was arrested on Oct. 2, and his bond was set at $15,000.

Crutcher’s body was found Tuesday in a wooded area in Hazel Green by utility workers. Madison County Coroner Craig Whisenant wouldn’t say how Crutcher died, but said it didn’t appear to be a suicide.

Crutcher was sought Tuesday for questioning after authorities found the bodies of three women and an 18-month-old boy dead in two different homes in Lincoln County. Police were also investigating a possible link between Crutcher and the body of a man found shot to death Tuesday in a home on Ortega Circle in Huntsville.

Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder said two children survived the attacks, and he identified one of them as Crutcher’s 3-year-old son.

On Oct. 4 of last year, Crutcher and four other men allegedly entered the home of Jonathan Haynes, 20, of Athens, to collect a $900 debt for some oxycontin they gave him, according to a report in The News Courier.

The men allegedly pistol-whipped Haynes, possibly with a semiautomatic Glock pistol, after Haynes offered his television and stereo instead of the $900. The gun discharged, grazing the back of Haynes upper arm, Sheriff Mike Blakely said at the time.

The sheriff said Haynes’ roommate was outside the trailer at his vehicle when four people came up asking for Haynes’ whereabouts. The roommate reportedly told the men he didn’t know, and Blakely said the men “knocked him around” before telling them Haynes might be in the trailer.

The sheriff told The News Courier that when the men went inside, the roommate called the sheriff’s office. Before deputies arrived, the men fled in three vehicles.

Haynes was able to identify two of the assailants — one of which was Crutcher.

The murder investigation this week began in Tennessee on Monday morning, Blackwelder said.

Crutcher’s 3-year-old son, Vincent Crutcher, called relatives saying he couldn’t wake up anyone at his house, his godmother, Constance Winston, told WAFF-TV in Huntsville.

Family went to the house and found all 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 arrived at his home outside Fayetteville, they found the child’s mother, 22-year-old Chabreya Campbell, and her 18-month-old son Rico Ragland dead. The body of 21-year-old Amber McCaulley of Huntsville, was also inside the home.

“I cannot imagine. I cannot imagine so it has to be something that’s totally off the realm because there’s no reason for anyone to have done something like this,” Winston said.

Hours later, the body of 21-year-old Jessica Brown was found in her home in Fayetteville. Her 2-month-old child was found in the home unharmed.

The cause of death hasn’t been released and the bodies were sent for autopsies.

Tennessee authorities identified the elder Crutcher as a person of interest, and said he was likely armed and alerted Alabama officials to watch for him.

Blackwelder said Tuesday that he doesn’t think there are more victims in Tennessee.

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.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.