Police Line

Suspect In 1974 Murder Allegedly Kills Self When Police Reach His Home

Matt Bigler
June 29, 2018 - 1:30 pm

Authorities in Santa Clara county announced they've closed a 43-year-old murder case when a person of interest killed himself after officers entered his home on Thursday. 

Steve Crawford, 72, had long been under suspicion for the brutal stabbing and sexual assault of a young newlywed in 1974. At the time, Crawford claimed to have found the body of 19-year-old Arlis Perry in the Stanford Memorial Church on Stanford's campus where he worked as a security guard.

Investigators had doubted his version of events. With new evidence, they appeared to be strengthening their case against him. 

"It comes with great honor to announce that we solved the 43-year-old cold case," said Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith. "Our detectives continued to piece together additional information to this tragic puzzle."

Sheriff's deputies recently began closing in on Crawford. Newly obtained DNA evidence allegedly tied Crawford to the crime scene where Perry had been stabbed with an ice pick and sexually assaulted with church candles. 

Thanks to the DNA link, deputies obtained a search warrant for Crawford's studio apartment in San Jose. They arrived Thursday morning to search his residence, but Crawford shot himself in the head with a handgun soon after they entered, police said. 

Perry was in the church on Oct. 12, 1974 to pray after arguing with her husband, according to TV-station KPIX. Crawford first attracted suspicion by telling police that he locked the church that night and discovered her body the following morning. 

"He was certainly my chief suspect," said retired Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold. "It was pretty clear to me that whoever had done this was an insider."