Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Wood Chipper Murder Case

The Interview

Richard Crafts addresses the jury
Richard Crafts addresses
the jury (AP Wide)

On December 11, investigators located Crafts on duty at the Southbury Police Department where he was working the night shift. Newtown detectives called Southbury and asked that they send over Officer Crafts for further questioning. He arrived at the detective division in full uniform at 9:20 p.m. Lt. Michael DeJoseph and Detective Robert Tvardzik had already prepared some questions and conducted the interview. According to police reports, this was how the interview progressed.

Q. "Richard, did you know that your wife hired a private investigator?"

A. "No."

Q. "Did you know that the P.I. has documented your relationship with a New Jersey woman?"

A. "No."

Q. "Why would your wife tell her friends she was afraid for herself regarding serving you divorce paper, and tell them to check on her if something happened?"

A. "I cannot imagine her saying this, it is completely out of character for her to say this."

Q. "On November 18th, when Helle came home, when and why did she leave?"

A. "Those answers are in my statement."

Q. "What is the story with your bedroom rug? Apparently you removed it, or cut some pieces out of it. Can you explain this to me?"

A. "All the rugs in the house are being removed and replaced."

Q. "What was spilled on the rug in your bedroom?"

A. "Kerosene."

Q. "Did you cut pieces out of the rug?"

A. "Yes. Two feet at a time. It's easier to remove it that way."

Q. "What did you do with the rug you took out of the bedroom?"

A. "Dumped bedroom rug in the Newtown landfill one week ago. It was blue in color."

Q. "Why have you been telling everyone different things about Helle being missing? Like her mother being sick?

A. "I didn't want to say my wife was gone and I did not know where she was."

Q. "Has Helle received any mail since she has been missing?"

A. "No. She has gotten no letters since she left. She usually gets about two letters a week."

Whatever the police asked, Crafts had an answer. His demeanor seemed cooperative yet guarded. Again, he was not caught in any outright lies. They were more like half-truths. And for a man whose wife had suddenly and inexplicably vanished, Richard Crafts seemed rather apathetic. He was released after providing cops with a brief one-page statement that was less than helpful. Detectives were left with even more questions than before. But they were becoming more convinced that whatever happened to Helle Nielson Crafts, somehow, in some way, Richard Crafts had something to do with it.