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Cops: Mt. Vernon suspect confesses to 3 murders

December 6, 2012 5:51:00 AM PST
A woman was found stabbed to death inside a basement in Westchester County Tuesday, and police say the man believed responsible confessed to the murder, as well as two others.

The body of 42-year-old Tanya Simmons was discovered in a basement apartment in Mount Vernon after authorities say 60-year-old Lucius Crawford called 911 and reported "someone hurt."

At the same time, NYPD detectives from Bronx homicide and Cold Case, as well as a Yonkers police officer and Crawford's parole officer, were on their way to his Beekman Street aaprtment to the talk to him in relation to two murders in the early 90s in which Crawford was a suspect. When they got there, they saw the body and realized Crawford had fled the scene. His parole tracking ankle bracelet has been removed and was found in the apartment.

A manhunt ensued, and Crawford was taken into custody. Authorities say he had lived in the apartment for about a year, but he has spent 30 years in prison in South Carolina and New York for attacking women, including at least 13 separate stabbings. He served time for stabbing 12 women in South Carolina between 1973 and 1977, and for stabbing a woman 13 times in White Plains in 1994. He and the victim had worked together at a Yonkers job placement agency, and she rebuffed his sexual advances. He was released in 2008.

During questioning, police say Crawford confessed to three murders. They included Tanya Simmons, as well as the 1993 murder of prostitute Nell West in the Riverdale section of the Bronx and the 1994 murder of Laronda Shealy in Yonkers. He is now charged with murder in connection to all three incidents.

He apparently told detectives that he has "anger issues."

He claimed Simmons, who had been stabbed nine times, was his girlfriend, although officers are looking into that. He says they were arguing about a cell phone and a shopping cart.

Neighbors described him as a quiet man who kept to himself.

"When I came out at 1:30, and I just seen the whole block flooded (with police), and when it was taped off, I knew it was something real bad," one area resident said. "I don't know him that well, but I seen him passing. But I couldn't say that's the type of person he really is. Something must have jumped off in his mind."

The investigation is ongoing.

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