Craig Price: Confessions of a Teenage Serial Killer
Looking for Leads
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. McCrarys 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.