Friday, April 2, 2010

Anthony J. Standifer, Nicholas J. Krejci and two others charged with killing Beverly Crowl

Posted By on Fri, Apr 2, 2010 at 4:13 PM

click to enlarge Authorities in Independence announce charges today in the murder of Beverly Crowl
  • Authorities in Independence announce charges today in the murder of Beverly Crowl

Beverly Crowl might still be alive today if the people who killed her were good at crime. But based on police reports, Crowl's murder late last month was allegedly the result of a series of bad decisions made by incompetent robbers who planned to hit a drug dealer for thousands of dollars in weed and cash but ended up killing an old woman for her purse.

Jackson County prosecutors filed murder charges today against Darrin E. Jefferson, Melissa P. Farris-Visnich, Nicholas J. Krejci and Anthony J. Standifer in the death of Crowl, a former Independence Police Department employee found dead in a home at 14608 East 37th Street on March 19.

Jefferson, 26; Farris-Visnich, 32; Krejci, 23; and Standifer, 25, were also charged with two counts of armed criminal action. Standifer also has one count of tampering with a motor vehicle.

click to enlarge Authorities in Independence announce charges today in the murder of Beverly Crowl.
  • Authorities in Independence announce charges today in the murder of Beverly Crowl.
During an afternoon press conference, authorities said the murder charge could be upgraded to first-degree murder pending further investigation.

All of the suspects are in custody except Jefferson. Each is being held on a $1 million cash bond.

On the morning Crowl's body was discovered, her twin sister, Barbara Draper, received a voice message from Crowl recorded sometime after midnight. "Someone's at my door" and "Somebody's ringing the bell and beating on the door. I don't know who it is. Some man."

At 7: 30 a.m. Draper and Crowl's daughter, Dana Crowl, went to check and found the house's lights on and the front door open, with Crowl crumpled on the living room floor. Blood was pooled around her head and underneath her. Near her body was a shell casing stamped "Winchester 45 Auto." The inside front door casing was broken in two pieces on the latch side of the frame, and the door was cracked next to the knob on the interior. Crowl's purse -- with wallet and cell phone -- was missing. Her black, cordless home phone was found on the lawn.

click to enlarge Police are looking for Darrin E. Jefferson.
  • Police are looking for Darrin E. Jefferson.
Witnesses in the neighborhood gave police descriptions of several young, black men who were the neighborhood the previous evening engaged in suspicious behavior. One witness said they thought one of the men was trying to break into a truck.

Police believed Crowl was the victim of a "home invasion." Within a week of her death, they issued a description of a person of interest in the case, along with a composite sketch.

An autopsy found Crowl was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head.

There was a break in the case when a confidential witness contacted authorities and named Standifer and Krejci as two men allegedly planning to rob a house in Independence on the day Crowl was killed.

That witness also told police that the next day, Krejci called to say Standifer and others had gone into that wrong house and Standifer "had to fire a warning shot." Krejci then allegedly said he shot the "old lady" and "her hair blew back or something." The witness further claimed that the defendants knew Crowl worked for the police department, and her deposit slips showed she had $500,000 in the bank.

click to enlarge Melissa P. Farris-Visnich allegedly told two men that she heard someone in the home.
  • Melissa P. Farris-Visnich allegedly told two men that she heard someone in the home.
Police picked up Krejci, Standifer and Farris-Visnich in succession, with each giving the others up during interviews with detectives.

According to court documents, the plan was allegedly put in motion by Krejci. Convinced that there was a drug dealer living in the area with 15 pounds of marijuana and $70,000, Krejci contacted Standifer and told him he knew a place he could "hit a lick." A few days prior to the killing, Krejci allegedly gave him a handgun. Then the day before Crowl was killed, he gave Standifer directions to a house on 37th Street on Independence, but included three addresses -- all on 37th Street -- that the dealer might be living in.

The day the robbery was planned, Standifer headed out with his girlfriend Farris-Visnich, and Jefferson. They drove to the neighborhood but couldn't find the house. Standifer even called Krejci asking for better directions. Eventually they found a place they liked. The numbers didn't match any of the one's Krejci gave them, but they decided to hit it anyway, because it was close.

Standifer told Farris-Visnich that her job was simple. All she had to do was go up, knock, and ask for "Rachel." If someone came to the door, all she had to do was walk away and the men would do the rest. As she knocked on the door, they stood hidden around the left side of the house. No one answered, and she called Standifer on his cell phone as she walked away. She told him that it sounded like someone was inside. Then she kept walking away from the house until she heard the gunshot.

click to enlarge Nicholas J. Krejci allegedly provided a gun to Standifer in the killing.
  • Nicholas J. Krejci allegedly provided a gun to Standifer in the killing.
Standifer and Jefferson allegedly kicked in the door expecting to find weed and money. Instead they saw an old woman, standing in the living room with her phone in hand.

They had Crowl get face-down on the floor. Jefferson searched the house and found nothing, so he took Crowl's purse. Because they'd seen their faces, Standifer allegedly told police they had to kill her. He fired one shot into her head before they left.

Farris-Visnich watched them not-quite-run away from.

"That was fucked up. That was the wrong house." Standifer was saying. "There was some old bitch in there. I had to split her wig."

As they sped away, Farris-Visnich searched the purse, and found Crowl's police identification. She had worked as a civilian member of the Independence Police Department in the records unit but had retired.

The next day, Standifer allegedly returned the gun to Krejci, who sold it to a man near 55th Street and Prospect.

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