Crystal Perry Was Stabbed 50 Times Inside Her Home

Crystal Perry Was Stabbed 50 Times Inside Her Home

During the summer of 1994, Crystal Perry lived in Maine with her 12-year-old daughter Sarah. She was a single mom who worked at a shoe factory and provided the best life that she could for her daughter.

One night, after Sarah had gone to bed, she woke up to the sound of her mother screaming. Sarah heard the voice of a man and she heard loud bangs. Unsure of what to do, Sarah stayed in her room while she heard her mother yelling: “Murder!”

Suddenly, Crystal’s screaming stopped. Sarah bravely left her room to look for her mom and she found her on the floor covered in blood. She immediately went to the phone to call 911 but she did not hear a dial tone. She then ran half a mile to a neighbor’s home but they did not answer.

Sarah ran to a nearby restaurant and it was there where she called 911. When the police arrived, they pronounced Crystal dead at the scene. Though certain immediate suspects made a lot of sense, it would take more than a decade for Crystal to get justice.

The Scene of the Crime

Crystal had been stabbed more than 50 times. This is what police would consider overkill which is often indicative of a crime of passion. In cases where overkill is present the victim usually knows the killer even if just as an acquaintance.

At first glance, this crime did not appear to be a robbery. Nothing was missing and also, there was no sign of forced entry. Crystal was found wearing her bathrobe indicating that if she had let the killer in, she trusted them.

An investigation of the scene showed that the killer tried to clean some of the blood and in doing so, they had tracked shoe marks made from the blood that was on the floor.

Since Crystal had been stabbed 50 times, there was a lot of blood at the scene and as well, a lot of blood patterns that bloodstain pattern analysts could use for the investigation.

One of the most interesting patterns that were analyzed were circular droplets on Crystal’s leg. These drops are often referred to as “passive blood drops” because they occur when the source they are coming from is stationary. Since the perfectly circular drops were on Crystal’s leg, they could not have come from her.

The drops fell on her leg after she could no longer move which means that the killer must have hurt themselves while they were stabbing Crystal. This commonly occurs in stabbing cases since the blood makes the knife slip making it easy for the killer to hurt themselves.

Looking for Evidence and Looking for Suspects

First Suspects: Thomas and Joanne

At the autopsy, the medical examiner found evidence of sexual assault and they collected biological samples for future comparisons. While evidence was being processed at the lab, police were looking for potential suspects and the first person of interest was Crystal’s ex-husband Thomas who lived only 6 miles away.

Crystal and Thomas were not on good terms and even though they lived very close to each other, Sarah barely ever saw her father. Thomas had an alibi for the night of the murder. He said he was at home with his girlfriend Joanne.

This alibi posed an issue with the police because shortly before the murder, Crystal and Joanne had a fight at a local bar that resulted in Joanne punching Crystal and getting charged with assault. Regardless of their alibis, they were both considered suspects.

Second Suspect: Dennis Butler

When Sarah was asked, she said that she did recognize the killer’s voice that night and that it sounded like her mother’s 19-year-old boyfriend Dennis Butler. Sarah said that she had seen Dennis get very angry in the past. Crystal was 30 while Dennis was only 19-years-old.

On one occasion Crystal had confided in a coworker that she and Dennis had gotten into an argument and that he pulled a knife on her and had threatened to kill her.

Dennis denied any involvement and told police that he was at his parents’ house that night. His parents could not corroborate that story so Dennis took a polygraph test to clear his name. Dennis took the test twice and failed both times.

Dennis wore the same size shoe as the footprints found at the crime scene so he was already a person of interest. When asked for his DNA, he provided it but when it was compared to the DNA found on the scene, it was not a match.

Police wanted it to be Dennis so desperately that they tested it again but still, it was not a match. The blood DNA at the scene was also compared to Crystal’s ex-husband Thomas and his girlfriend Joanne and theirs were not a match either.

The DNA was then compared to the national database and again, there were no matches. Slowly, the case went cold, and over the next 12 years, several new suspects were interrogated but their DNA excluded them as suspects.

12 Years Later

After running the DNA profile again on the database, police got a hit. A man named Michael Hutchinson had recently been in prison for 6 months for a weapons offense. Michael lived about a mile away from Crystal at the time of the murder and he was 19-years-old.

When Michael was questioned, he confessed that he was with Crystal on the night of the attack. He claimed that they were having an affair and that they were both in bed when an intruder burst into the house. Michael said that he confronted the man in the kitchen but was knocked unconscious.

He then said he woke up to Crystal being stabbed and that he made a run for it. The police found several problems with this story. First, Crystal’s bed looked like only one person had been sleeping in it, secondly, Sarah had never seen him even though he claimed they were having an affair.

The analyst also compared Michael’s DNA to the perfectly round droplets found on Crystal’s leg and it matched his DNA profile meaning that he was still there and had gotten hurt even after Crystal was dead.

A Conviction and Sarah’s Story

Michael was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors believed that he may have been high on drugs as well as drunk on the night of the murder. He apparently had seen Crystal and Sarah go on walks in the neighborhood but they never actually spoke to each other.

The final piece of evidence police needed was a scar on Michael’s right hand, consistent with a scar of someone holding a knife that slipped and hurt them. The jury did not believe Michael’s intruder story and it took them 2 hours to find him guilty. Michael was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Sarah wrote a book titled “After the Eclipse” as a tribute to her mother. In this book, she shared that the police were very confident that Dennis was the killer and they accused her of trying to protect him. They made her take a lie detector test, they questioned her friends and they also stole her diaries.

Though it took over a decade, police were able to make the right arrest.
Crystal Perry Was Stabbed 50 Times Inside Her Home
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