Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Alice Crimmins Case

Dust and Disputed Dinners

Part of the reason the police soon focused their attention on Alice was that Detective Piering recalled seeing things that threw her story into question and she remembered items conflicting with other peoples reports.

When Piering first went into the childrens room to investigate, he moved a lamp from the bureau over which the youngsters would have had to scamper on their way out the window. In doing so, he says, he noticed a thin film of undisturbed dust over the top of it because the lamp itself left a clear round ring. However, Piering did not order the photographer to record this vital evidence nor did he even make a written note of it.

A photograph of the bureau showing a layer of undisturbed dust would be especially welcome since that area had seen some action recently whether or not the kids scrambled over it. During her housecleaning, Alice had unbolted the screen because she had found a hole in it, intending to replace it with the screen from her own bedroom. However, she found a bit of dog excrement on that screen. So she returned to the childrens room and put the screen with the hole in it back in the window but did not refasten it to its bolts. She simply propped it against the glass. Later, in his frantic search for the children, Eddie Sr. had leaned out the window to yell for them.

A floor plan of the Crimmin's apartment
A floor plan of the Crimmin's
As Piering would later recall, Alice told him that she had fed the kids some manicotti and he saw a slice of the same in the refrigerator and a box of frozen manicotti in the trash. He did not save either bit of evidence, have it photographed, or make a note.

However, when Alice talked to other detectives, she said that the kids had eaten veal that night. The autopsy showed that Missys stomach contained pasta but no meat. Child molesters frequently pretend to be childrens friends and caregivers. Could a pedophile have fed the kids before murdering them? Stranger things have been known to happen. Then again, perhaps Alice Crimmins was innocently mistaken.

There were other conflicts between her recollection of that fateful evenings events and those of others. She recalled getting gas for her car at a Gulf station at 9:00PM on the fateful evening; the two attendants remembered her being there around 5:00PM. However, this was a matter that was, in and of itself, irrelevant to the case.

Then there was the issue of the precise time Missy died. It was initially determined by Dr. Richard Grimes, by the temperature of the deep tissues of Missys body, that she had died at least six to twelve hours before her body had been discovered and perhaps earlier than that. The Medical Examiners office was headed byDr. Milton Helpern, a respected coroner, and he had been present at the little girls autopsy. He found that the childs stomach was quite full and concluded that she had died no more than two hours after this meal.

Alice claimed that, on the fatal night, the family had eaten at 7:30PM and she had checked on the children at midnight.

Was she lying? Was she mistaken? Or had the kids been kidnapped and fed a last meal of macaroni before they were killed? The public wondered and increasingly became critical of the authorities for not bringing the killer of the Crimmins kids to trial as the investigations continued for two more years.



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