Charles Daniel Thacker, 37, was executed by lethal injection on 9 November 2005 in Huntsville, Texas for the attempted rape and murder of a woman in her apartment complex.
On the evening of 7 April 1993, Karen Crawford, 26 was returning home from a trip to the grocery store. She stopped at the common area of her apartment complex in Tomball in Harris County to collect her mail. Suddenly, an assailant grabbed her, dragged her into a nearby restroom, and began attempting to rape her.
A passer-by who noticed mail laying around and a key dangling from Crawford's open mailbox notified Billy Hall, a maintenance worker. Hall noted the number of the mailbox and went to Crawford's apartment to see if she was home. He then went back to the mailboxes and observed Crawford's car nearby, with her dog inside. He then checked the restrooms. Finding that the women's restroom was locked, Hall knocked on the door. A man answered that he was using the restroom.
According to Hall's statement to the police, he then used a telephone to call the manager, who arrived with her husband a few minutes later. The restroom door then opened and the man attempted to leave, but Hall pushed him back inside and told him he wasn't going anywhere. Hall fought with the man and had him on the ground. The man then sprayed Hall with pepper spray, got past him, and ran toward the back gate. Hall told the manager to go lock the front gates, then began pursuing the man. He caught up with him at the back gate and cut his arm with his pocket knife. After Hall managed to lock the back gate, the suspect ran toward the front gate. He overpowered the manager and her husband and got through the gate. Hall chased him until he reached an 8-foot fence. The suspect jumped over the fence and escaped into a wooded area.
Crawford was found inside the restroom. She was lying face down, with her jogging pants pulled down. She was unconscious and not breathing. Hall attempted to perform CPR, but was unable to revive her. She died in the hospital three days later, after being taken off of life support.
A police canine unit discovered Charles Thacker, then 24, hiding in a yard a few hours after the attack.
Billy Hall and others who saw the fleeing assailant said that it was Thacker. Other witnesses reported seeing Thacker loitering in the area before the attack. Thacker's truck was also found in the apartment complex parking lot.
Testimony at Thacker's punishment hearing indicated that he had a history of sexually assaulting women. At least six victims testified against him. Thacker sexually molested a five-year-old girl in 1987 and also assaulted and robbed an adult woman in 1987. In June 1987, he robbed one woman and sexually assaulted another. He was convicted of these last two offenses and received concurrent 12-year prison sentences, which he began serving in October 1988. He was paroled in July 1992. (At the time, early release was common in Texas due to strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.) He sexually assaulted another woman before the end of the year, and yet another one in February 1993. One of the victims, a Tomball woman, was abducted while picking up mail at her apartment complex.
Continued on Page 2