Cover-up: Killer said cop buried gun, victims outed her as lesbian
"He said he was gonna take care of the gun."
With these words three weeks before her death from kidney failure, Sharron Diane Crawford Smith confirmed that days after April 11, 1967, the date she killed Carolyn Perry and Connie Hevener with a .25 caliber pistol at High's Ice Cream in Staunton, she went to her "pretty good friend"– Staunton police investigator Davie Bocock– to tell him that she had committed the crime, according to records and transcripts released Friday, January 23 by the Staunton Police Department.
Additionally, Smith told police that she killed Perry and Hevener because the victims made fun of her for being a lesbian.
"Taunting, teasing," Smith explained to police, "about my lifestyle."
According to Hevener's twin brother Carroll Smootz, the new information is painful, but necessary.
"It's another nightmare," says Hevener's twin brother Carroll Smootz, "but the sooner we get the whole truth out the sooner this can be over."
According to Smith in a December 30, 2008, interview, Bocock secured her gun in a metal box and then together they buried it on Bocock's property.
"He said," said Smith, "that he was digging a hole, putting it in there, and that it would be safe."
Bocock had taught Smith, then known as Diane Crawford, how to shoot a gun, by practicing on animals and bottles and cans at his farm near Staunton.
Following the killings, Joyce Bradshaw, Smith's co-worker at Western State Hospital, went to Bocock, lead investigator on the case, with information about a conversation the two of them had had 10 nights before the murder.
"She told me to open up the glove compartment," Bradshaw told the Hook. "So I did, and inside there was a pistol. Diane says, 'There's two bullets in that gun. One of them's for my stepfather. The other is for the Hevener girl.'"
Days after sharing this information with Bocock, Bradshaw says, Bocock visited her at the hospital.
"He told me that the bullets didn't match the gun she showed me," says Bradshaw, "and that she had been cleared."
This confirms the worst fears of Roy Hartless, the former Staunton police investigator who had been a proteg© to Bocock, but who told the Hook earlier this month that– based on his work as a private investigator on the case– he had doubts about his former boss.
"There are certainly enough connections between Davie Bocock and Diane Crawford that would have kept him from looking into it further," said Hartless. "That speaks to a cover-up."
Bocock died in 2006. Police say they have been searching his farm with a metal detector and will continue to look for the murder weapon based on Smith's account.
The details of police corruption leave Smootz enraged, particularly given that for the better part of 41 years, Smootz has directed his anger at the man originally charged with the crime, former Buffalo Gap High School teacher Bill Thomas.
"For years, I had hatred for this man," says Smootz. "What if I had done something irrational against him? If I had, and then found out he was the wrong man, I couldn't live with myself."
Moreover, Smootz says he would have liked the chance to meet Smith face to face before she was on death's door.
"I would have liked to tell her that I forgive her," says Smootz. "I tried to go down there and meet her where she was staying, but I never heard back from the nurses."
Smith also confirmed that the motive for killing Perry and Hevener was that they had been "taunting, teasing" her about her "lifestyle." Indeed, Smith told police that she was a lesbian, but that she hadn't had any homosexual affairs at the time of the murder, had not suggested as much to anyone, and that Perry and Hevener were merely stereotyping her.
"How do kids find out about anything?" Smith told police, "I'm sure they didn't understand. It was something new. And something definitely unusual."
Perry's husband, Danny, says he never knew his wife to taunt or tease anyone.
"No, not at all," he says.
Smootz isn't buying Smith's motive.
"My sister never made fun of anyone," says Smootz. "She was really into the Bible at that time, and she might have tried to talk to [Smith] about what the Bible says about it and was trying to help her. But to say that my sister taunted her doesn't sound like my sister at all."
As for the revelations about Bocock's role in delaying justice, Perry says that he's surprised but content to know of it.
"It's the only way we'll get full closure," says Perry, "but we're confident in the current police. They've done a great job."
Staunton Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Robertson told the assembled media that police are continuing to investigate the nature of Bocock and Smith's relationship and attempting to corroborate Smith's account, while reiterating that there was never any attempt on his department's part to hide the painful truth.
"Any implication that the police department would have done anything to protect their own is off base," says Robertson. "If he had anything to do with a cover-up, we are hellbent on finding out why."
At the conclusion of the press conference, police released copies of the entire police file on the 1967 murders to members of the media. According to that file, Bocock obtained a warrant to search Smith's Chevrolet Corvair on June 5, 1967 to search for the murder weapon and the money missing from the High's register. That same day was the day Bradshaw had first relayed her account to Bocock about her conversation with Smith about killing Hevener, according to Bocock's notes.
Those notes also detail a conversation Bradsaw and Smith had "about a week after the murder."
"Diane called Joyce on phone about 9:30," writes Bocock. "Diane told Joyce to heep her mouth shut. Joyce asked her what about and she said, 'You know what about.'"
Additionally, Bocock questioned Smith (then Sharron Diane Crawford) on April 14, 1967, three days after the killings. Smith said that the only trouble she can recall going down at High's was a few nights before the murders, Perry had kicked out some boys from Lee High School for being "too loud and rough."
As Smootz anxiously awaits the outocome of the current Staunton police's investigation of Bocock, no new revelation will bring him the peace of mind he's lacked for so long.
"For most of the last 42 years, I've had to live without a sister," says Smootz. "Now to find out the police knew who did it and didn't do anything is just earth-shattering."
–updated February 9, 2:01pm
CORRECTION: The print edition of this article stated that medical examiner records indicated Hevener was 2 1/2 months pregnant at the time of her death. This information was actually contained in Staunton police investigation notes, and the autopsy report states that Hevener was not pregnant at the time of her death. The information has been corrected in this online edition.