Hilton Lewis Crawford, 64, was executed by lethal injection on 2 July 2003 in Huntsville, Texas for the kidnapping and murder of a 12-year-old boy.
On the evening of 12 September 1995 in Conroe, Crawford, then 56, placed two phone calls to his friends, Carl and Paulette Everett. He had invited them to a home business franchise meeting and was calling to confirm their attendance. Crawford, however, did not show up at the meeting. Instead, while the Everetts were away, he went to their home. According to prosecutors, Crawford knocked on the front door, and the Everetts' only child, 12-year-old McKay, opened it to see the family friend he knew as "Uncle Hilty." Crawford then knocked McKay on the head with a blunt object, locked him in the trunk of his car, and drove off toward Louisiana.
After their meeting, the Everetts went out to dinner with some friends. After making some phone calls home that went unanswered, Carl Everett left his wife at the restaurant and drove home. He found the door ajar and his son missing. Almost immediately, the telephone rang. A woman demanded $500,000 for McCay's safe return and told him he would receive another phone call in the morning, with instructions for delivering the ransom. After hanging up, Everett called 9-1-1 first, then he phoned his wife. Next, he tried to call Crawford, his friend who had a career in law enforcement and security. The Everetts did not receive the expected follow-up phone call the next morning.
In Louisiana, Crawford drove to a remote area and removed McKay from the trunk. According to prosecutors, Crawford shot McKay twice in the head with a .45-caliber pistol. He then left McKay's body in a swamp. Afterward, he returned home to Texas, hiding his pistol, bloody clothes, and other evidence along the way.
Bill Kahn, a neighbor, told investigators that on the night of the abduction, he saw a car pull into the Everetts' driveway, then quickly drive away after a brief time. His description of the car matched Crawford's gold Chrysler. Investigators found Crawford's car in a storage lot in Beaumont, where Crawford once lived. They observed that the car had been thoroughly cleaned inside and out, and that the cloth lining had been removed from the trunk. Nevertheless, they found blood stains inside the trunk and on the exterior. This blood evidence was matched to the victim.
Crawford was arrested on 15 September. At the time, he admitted to kidnapping McKay, but he would not tell where he was or whether he was alive. The next day, however, Crawford drew a map for police and gave them directions to the precise location where the boy's body could be found. He admitted striking McKay, but said that a man named R. L. Remington fired the gun. Police made a composite drawing of Remington based on Crawford's description.
Remington was never found, and it wasn't long before investigators decided that he never existed. During the investigation, a man came to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, saying that he met Crawford at a Houston horse racing track, and that Crawford dropped hints to him that he needed help carrying out a plan involving a boy. The man refused to become involved. According to Mike Aduddell, the Montgomery County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Crawford, this man who came forward was the basis for Crawford's physical description of R. L. Remington.
Hilton Crawford was a member of the Beaumont police force from 1961 to 1966. He was a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy from 1966 to 1975. After an unsuccessful campaign for sheriff in 1975, Crawford moved to Conroe in Montgomery County and started his own private security business, which was unsuccessful. He had no prior criminal history.
Because of the intense publicity and public outrage surrounding the case, Crawford's trial was transferred to Huntsville, in Walker County. Prosecutors told the jury that Crawford devised the kidnapping scheme to cover huge gambling debts and pay for a lavish lifestyle, which continued even as his business failed.
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