COVER- Getting away with murder? Former cop has serious questions about why Staunton's most infamous killer almost got away

 


Former Staunton police investigator Roy Hartless says the way police handled a 1967 double homicide then and now "speaks to a cover-up."
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO

Two bullets was all it took to change Staunton forever. The double murder of sisters-in-law Constance "Connie" Hevener, 19, and Carolyn Perry, 20, as they closed up shop at the High's Ice Cream Store one April night in 1967 shook the otherwise sleepy Shenandoah Valley town to its core.

 

More than 41 years later, Staunton's crime of the century may appear on it way to getting solved with the November arrest of 60-year-old former High's employee Sharron Diane Crawford Smith on two charges of first degree murder.

At an early December press conference, a somber but satisfied-sounding Staunton police chief JamesWilliams announced, "This effectively closes the case."

But according to former Staunton police detective Roy Hartless who tracked down Smith on her deathbed in a nursing home this past August, this moment of closure for the victims' families almost never came. After three years of painstakingly reconstructing evidence and conducting interviews, Hartless– now working as a private investigator– says this case should and could have been solved long ago, and he believes a relationship between the original lead investigator on the case and suspect Smith derailed the investigation then and continued to hamper progress on it through the years.

 "That," says Hartless, "speaks to a cover-up."

 

Crime of the century

The crime occurred across the street from a monastery in the relatively crime-free North End district. It was a warm, early-spring Tuesday evening– just before 11pm on April 11, 1967.

"There are people in this town who remember it like it was yesterday," says Hartless, a Staunton native who was a freshman at Robert E. Lee High School. "I remember thinking, 'Things like this just don't happen here.'"

High's was located in the middle of the otherwise quiet Terry Court business park, a shop serving sundaes and ice cream floats, and popular with area parents and their children.

"It was mostly older people and families there," says Carroll Smootz, who regularly visited his twin sister Connie Hevener at the shop.  "It was about the last place you'd think this would happen."

And the two victims were the last people to whom it would happen. Born Connie Smootz, Hevener had been a cheerleader at Fort Defiance High School, who, after putting her pom-poms away, had taken an interest in her Christian faith and began reading the Bible daily.  According to Smootz, his sister was his "angel on my shoulder."

"We were deeply close," says Smootz, "she was always the person who kept me away from the girls with bad reputations and kept me out of trouble in school."

Smootz had also known Carolyn Perry, then Carolyn Hevener, in high school. She had been his sister's teammate on the cheerleading squad, and he even went on a few dates with Perry.

"She was nice as could be," says Smootz, "but she played a much smarter game than I did. She was really into math and languages, and I just couldn't keep up with her."

Soon they would all be related by marriage, when Connie married Carolyn's brother Larry, and began working in the family business at High's, owned and operated by Carolyn's parents. To keep up with the demand that came with warm weather, the shop extended its hours to 11pm starting on the night of April 11. It would be the last time they extended their hours.

Just past 11pm, Smootz got a call from his aunt in Staunton.

"She told me to come to town right away," says Smootz. "If it had been Larry, they would have told me what the problem was. If it had been my mother or father, it would have come from someone in Harrisonburg, where they lived. That left one person."

As he approached High's in his car, he saw the tell-tale flashing blue lights of a police car, and soon his worst fears were confirmed.

"I saw my aunt there and I asked if Connie had been shot," says Smootz. "She couldn't even face me."

Hevener died at the scene. Perry died on her way to University of Virginia Hospital, leaving behind a two-year-old daughter. 

The crime became national news.

As months passed and without an arrest, even ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey allegedly took to the national airwaves and advised that if one wanted to get away with murder, they should go to Staunton, Virginia. (Harvey's office was unable to confirm or deny this.)

"Staunton immediately had a stigma," says Hartless, "and they wanted to get rid of it quickly."

Finally, in 1968, police made an arrest. William Thomas, a 24-year-old former Buffalo Gap High School teacher living in nearby Swoope was charged, and he stood trial in April of that year for the first of the two murder counts. 

"He was going around town saying he'd done it, like he was getting some kind of thrill out of it," says Smootz. "People knew him around town, and they said he sounded crazy."

However, the evidence against Thomas proved scant. Prosecutors could not produce a murder weapon, nor could they put Thomas at the scene of the crime. All they had was testimony from several Staunton residents who said that Thomas had confessed that he had gone to High's Ice Cream that night to steal the $138 missing from the register. 

In three hours, a jury found Thomas not guilty.

Nearly everyone in Staunton took the news hard, as the town was still small enough that many had a personal connection to the victims. Hartless, then 14 years old, was no exception.

"I had a paper route," he says, "and I remember delivering Connie's paper every morning. I couldn't understand why it had happened to her."

Five years later, in 1973, fresh out of high school, Hartless joined the Staunton Police Department as a patrol officer. He later became a member of the department's criminal investigation unit in 1988. 

That April night always haunted him.

Through the years, Hartless says, he followed up on periodic new information, even going so far as to fly to California to interview Thomas' ex-wife once, who, despite having been divorced from Thomas for many years, had vouched for his whereabouts the night. 

With that kind of information, Hartless never could shake the idea that police had gotten the wrong man.

"It just never made any sense to me," says Hartless. "Today, I could understand someone killing two people over $138. But back in the '60s, it just didn't happen that way."

The crime haunted the Hevener family, who owned and operated the ice cream parlor where they lost a daughter-in-law and their own daughter. In 1999, the Heveners approached the police and wanted to know why all the advancements in identifying forensic and ballistic evidence couldn't tell police who killed their daughter.

When a lab analysis of the bullet casings on file yielded no new insight, Hartless– who was then still a Staunton police detective– decided to apply old-fashioned shoe leather.

"There was very little there," says Hartless. "The file on a typical murder case is three inches thick; this was only half an inch. I figured the best thing we could do was start over from scratch."

As Hartless dug deeper, he says, he discovered why there was such precious little information.

 

'Fundamental error'

Hartless began his new investigation with the scene of the crime. With High's owned and operated by the Hevener family, practically every employee was related by either blood or marriage. So, assembling the surviving family members and finding out what they could remember seemed a natural place to start.

Evidently, this was not the course Hartless' predecessor in 1967 had chosen.

"They said it was the first time anyone from the police had ever talked to them about the murders," says Hartless. "I was astounded. Being there representing the Staunton police, it made me feel about two feet tall."

According to Hartless, one doesn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to know better than to make such a mistake.

"That's Cop 101, right there," says Hartless. "If a murder takes place in a business, especially a family-run business, you talk to the people who run the business. To never talk to them is a fundamental error."

Chief Williams concedes that this was no minor error.

"Roy's absolutely right," says Williams. "There's no question that's one of the first places police should have looked."

What police would have learned in 1967 had they spoken with the Heveners is that neither Connie Hevener nor Carolyn Perry were supposed to work that evening. Instead, they were filling in for a co-worker, whose name the Heveners might have recalled at the time but since the family had not kept records on their employees, they'd since forgotten.

"Someone comes in, wants to work a few hours a week, and then leaves after a while," explains Hartless, "you're liable to forget that person 32 years later."

As it turned out, Hartless would not have to look far for that missing employee.

 

A fateful meeting

Following his retirement in July 2005, Hartless started working as a private investigator for hire, but continued to work the High's case on a pro bono basis.

"I made a promise to that family to do everything I could to solve this case," says Hartless. "That didn't end when I retired."

As he became known around Staunton as the expert on the High's case, friends and family of the victims would often come to Hartless with whatever new information occurred to them, but no leads bore fruit.

Then in May of 2008, Lowell Sheets, the Staunton businessman known around town as the founder of S&W Appliances, contacted Hartless with information that would set the wheels of justice in motion.

"I'm a cousin of Connie Hevener's, and word had gotten around town that I was interested in trying to figure this thing out," says Sheets, "and a woman saw one of my trucks and said to my daughter-in-law she had some information about the High's case."

That woman was 74-year-old Joyce Bradshaw of nearby Verona. 

"It had been a long time coming," says Bradshaw. "I went to a yard sale one Saturday and saw an S&W truck in the driveway and figured I just had to tell somebody." 

What she told Sheets, and then Hartless, concerned the night of April 1, 1967, 10 days before the murders, when she went out for a bite to eat with a co-worker: Sharron Diane Crawford. 

"Diane was one of my aides at Western State Hospital," says Bradshaw, "so we had been acquainted at work, and she had always treated me okay. So one night she called me up and said she wanted to go get a hamburger."

Sitting in Crawford's car in the parking lot of the Kenny Burger on Greenville Avenue near Bessie Weller Elementary School, eating dinner, Crawford began the conversation Bradshaw would be unable to forget for the rest of her life.

"She told me to open up the glove compartment," says Bradshaw. "So I did, and inside there was a pistol."

Then came the words that Bradshaw has not been able to put out of her mind for nearly 42 years.

"Diane says, 'There's two bullets in that gun,'" Bradshaw recalls. "'One of them's for my stepfather. The other is for the Hevener girl.'"

So shaken was Bradshaw, that she could not even bring herself to ask the question that has burned in Staunton for more than four decades: Why?

"I was scared," says Bradshaw. "I just wanted to put it out of my mind."

The answer to that question is now known by Staunton police.

"At trial," said Robertson at the December 10 press conference, "we will be able to show motive."

Hartless also says he knows why Smith allegedly pulled the trigger, but says he's going to let Robertson make his case in court.

"I know what it is," says Hartless, "and it wasn't robbery, but I'm not going to tell you what it is."

Having chased dozens of leads on the High's case for nearly 35 years, Hartless initially was skeptical at Bradshaw's story.

"I asked her," says Hartless, "'How come you've waited 41 years to tell anybody this?'" 

She claims she didn't wait at all.

"I went to the police the day after the murders," says Bradshaw. "I went straight to Dave Bocock."

 

Apt pupil

David Bocock was in charge of criminal investigations in the Staunton police department for decades and was someone for whom Hartless himself had worked for many years, a man from whom Hartless says he had learned many tools of the trade. According to Bradshaw, Hartless wasn't Bocock's only student.

"When I went to Dave Bocock, and told him about Diane [Crawford]," says Bradshaw, "He said to me, 'Oh, yes, I know her, she used to come up to my farm to shoot target practice. She's a crack shot.'"

Days after providing her information, Bocock visited Bradshaw at work at Western State.

"He told me she had been cleared," says Bradshaw, "that the bullets from the scene didn't match her gun, and that she had passed a polygraph."

Bradshaw did not buy the story.

"As soon as I heard about the murders," says Bradshaw. "I knew it was Diane." 

Over the years, Bradshaw says, she told her story to several different law enforcement agencies, including the Nelson County Sheriffs Department, and the Virginia State Police. She was unable to provide dates of that contact, and representatives of these two agencies were unable to confirm or deny contact.

"I tried to forget it, but I never did," says Bradshaw. "I tried to see if somebody in law enforcement could do something about it, but no one ever seemed to put much heart into what I had to say."

Having worked for decades with Bocock, who died in 2006, Hartless says he's troubled by the fact that Bocock didn't follow up more on Bradshaw's information.

"He did have her take a polygraph," says Hartless. "We tried to find a transcript but couldn't get it. But, the file says he had her take that polygraph for elimination purposes."

That, combined with the dearth of information in the High's file, and the audacity of investigating one's own target-shooting partner makes Hartless fear the worst.

"Can I say for certain Bocock knew she did it? No," says Hartless, "but there are certainly enough connections between Dave Bocock and Diane Crawford that would have kept him from looking into it further."

The Hook placed calls to all the Bococks in the Staunton phone book. The one family member who did opt to speak to the Hook praised Bocock as a "a good man, a fair man, and never wanted to do anything but solve that murder," but did not wish to have her name printed in the newspaper. 

Additionally, the Hook reached the nursing home where Bocock's widow presently resides, but her nurse informed the Hook that she is suffering from dementia and would be unable to offer anything in her husband's defense.

According to Hartless, any hesitance of Staunton police to pursue the woman now known as Sharron Diane Crawford Smith did not end in 1967.

 

The long search ends

Sharron Diane Crawford Smith was a long way from the 19-year-old she'd been in 1967. Now 60, she is laid up in a Staunton assisted care facility, oxygen tubes tucked in her nose, as she is dying from kidney failure.

On August 28, 2008, Hartless finally met with her, the person for whom he had been searching his entire professional career.

Sitting with Hartless and representing the Staunton police was Wayne Snodgrass, Hartless' partner in the Staunton police for 26 years, who is still on active duty. Quickly, Smith confirmed to Hartless that she was the forgotten part-time worker who had called in sick that fateful evening.

"I told her, 'I'm here because the family wants closure,'" Hartless relates, "and she says, 'Good. I need closure, too.'"

Immediately, recalls thinking: "You worked there part time for a little while, why would you need closure?"

For the next hour, under the auspices of merely gathering information about the crime, Smith, he says, seemed at ease, answering questions about why she had called in sick, her polygraph test following the murders, and her time living in North Carolina from 1967 until 1986.

Then, at the end of their conversation, Hartless noticed a significant change in demeanor.

"I asked her, 'What would you say if I told you someone believes you may have shot these girls?'" says Hartless, "That got a considerable reaction. Her voice got higher and louder, not necessarily angry, but definitely hostile and defensive. It had definitely struck a nerve."

Exiting the building, Hartless turned to Snodgrass, and together they expressed hope that after a long time of being out to sea without a map, they finally had their great white whale.

"Wayne turns to me and says, 'She killed those girls,'" says Hartless. "I thought then it would only be a matter of days before we had an arrest."

While Smith's health continued to deteriorate, Hartless would wait more than three months for the day he'd worked so long to see.

 

Justice delayed

The first thing Hartless figured his former colleagues would do with this new information was quickly make an arrest. Instead, Hartless claims Staunton police brass broke up the team that had worked on the case longer than anyone in the department.

"They took Wayne [Snodgrass] off the case," says Hartless, "and they told him he was forbidden from discussing the case with me anymore."

Chief Williams says he doesn't know of any gag order applied to Snodgrass, and denies any intent to do anything but have the case go through the proper channels.

"Wayne had been reassigned to patrol a couple of years before all this, though he had once been in investigations," says Williams. "We were just making sure that this was worked out of our investigations unit."

Another man who was effectively kept out of the loop on the developments in the High's case was Staunton Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Robertson. 

Robertson confirms that the first he heard of a new suspect in the double murder was not until Hartless came to his office on November 19, 2008.

"I didn't know the police had anything to share with me," says Robertson. "Nobody briefed me until November, and then we made the arrest."

Robertson won't go so far as to confirm Hartless' suspicions.

"I certainly don't think the police were trying to hide anything from me," he says. "I think they probably just wanted to collect more information, and they did, and that will come out at trial."

Chief Williams says that Robertson was briefed as soon as the Department had gathered enough information to effectively prosecute the case.

"I can't get into the details," says Williams, "but there was still a great deal more investigation to be done in terms of corroborating what we knew in August."

Lowell Sheets, the man who delivered the case's key witness to Hartless, isn't buying the notion that there was any more evidence to collect.

"They were letting that woman die on the vine," says Sheets. "They certainly had to be thinking their interests would be better served if she would go out quietly rather than make all of this public."

And Smootz, mourning the loss of his twin sister Connie Hevener for nearly 42 years, sees no difference between the police in 1967 and now.

"They dragged their feet then, and they dragged them today," says Smootz. "If it had been their family who died, they would have done a lot more then; and if they really wanted justice, they would have arrested that woman instead of waiting for her to die."

Williams denies the allegations.

 "Absolutely not," says Williams. "We want to be just, but we also want to be correct."

Just days after Hartless' visit, Robertson met with the families of victims Hevener and Perry and told them of the new information and that police were close to an arrest.

Nine days after Hartless spoke to Robertson, Staunton police met with the alleged perpetrator and finally decided they had sufficient information to go ahead with her arrest. 

On Thursday December 10, 2008, Williams and Robertson sat before the media to announce the arrest and give reporters copies of Smith's mugshot. Indeed, she did look as close to death as Robertson had suggested  when he told reporters, "There is some concern she may not survive the weekend."

 

Unanswered questions

The following Monday, the Staunton News Leader wanted to know what took police so long to make the arrest. In an editorial with the headline "What about justice?" the paper cited Snodgrass' removal from the case and the time lapsed between August and November as details for which police owed citizens an explanation.

"Was closing the case more important than finding the truth and making the killer or killers pay?" the paper asked. "If so, that's not justice delayed; that's a miscarriage of justice."

Robertson brushes aside the notion of police stalling.

"Anyone," said Robertson at the press conference, "who says the police dragged their feet on this is nuts."

Robertson might count Hartless among the "nuts."

"Not only did police drag their feet," says Hartless, "but we were on a fast track toward making an arrest, and then they sat on the information. Why didn't they go back immediately? There was enough to arrest her in August."  

Hartless admits he does have his axe to grind with the Department for which he worked for 32 years, but only as a result of how they treated his longtime partner.

"They totally backdoored Wayne," says Hartless. "He won't tell you that, but I will."

Indeed, Snodgrass did not return the Hook's calls for comment. And Hartless was so upset that he declined to attend the press conference announcing the arrest.

"It was a dog and pony show," says Hartless. "I didn't care to be there for it."

Still, Hartless says he's proud to have helped bring closure to the families of the victims. 

"That's what means the most," says Hartless. "It's painful, and it opens old wounds, but in the end there's closure."

But the case is not completely closed for Hartless. He says he's close to finding more information about what Bocock might have done to protect Smith, but won't say what it is in order to give a chance for the Staunton police to come clean about their own. 

"Whether it comes from them or from me," says Hartless, I can tell you there will be more to this."

Chief Williams says he doesn't know about the nature of Smith's relationship with Bocock, but concedes that the initial investigation was flawed.

"We didn't have much to work off of," says Williams. "These days, we would have more documentation on a petty larceny charge at Wal-Mart than they did for this case. I don't know what they did or did not do, but it doesn't appear like they did a whole lot."

Hartless says that despite the fact that the dying Smith will now have to appear in court on Wednesday January 7, he's continuing to investigate the relationship between Bocock and Smith because he doesn't want to see another investigation handled the way the High's Ice Cream murders were handled.

"That's a situation where everyone pays the price for one person's actions," says Hartless. "There's just nothing worse than a dirty cop." 

Regardless of whatever truth can be discovered about the investigation 41 years after the fact, for Smootz, nothing can get rid of the pain with which he's lived since that spring night when he, his family, and Staunton changed forever.

"There's no way I can have those 41 years back," says Smootz, "and there's no way to get back my guardian angel."

–Correction: The print edition of this story bore the headline "Getting away with murder? Former cop claims police nearly let Staunton's most infamous killer go free to protect their own." This is inaccurate, as neither Hartless nor this story makes such a claim. Additionally, the Hook misquoted Hartless about having found the transcript from Crawford Smith's polygraph test. Hartless had actually said he sought such a transcript but never got one. The headline and Hartless' quote have been corrected in this online edition.

Clarification: The Hook wishes to clarify that when Hartless says, "there's just nothing worse than a dirty cop," he was not speaking of Bocock specifically. At the time of this publication, Hartless did not have information that would indicate Bocock was a "dirty cop," just questions about his original investigation. Additionally, High's Ice Cream was the correct name of the crime scene; the word "store" was inadvertently capitalized to make it appear part of the name. Also, the reference to blue police car lights may have been anachronistic, according to a source familiar with Virginia vehicles of the era.


Carolyn Perry, 20,  (left) Constance "Connie" Hevener, 19 were each shot in the head while closing the High's Ice Cream Store in Staunton
FORT DEFIANCE HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK PHOTOS VIA STAUNTON NEWS LEADER


The front page of the Staunton Leader (now the Staunton News Leader) shocked the residents of Staunton, who believed their town, particularly its relatively well-heeled North End, to be safe.
STAUNTON NEWS LEADER


High's Ice Cream closed its doors long ago, but longtime Stauntonians still can't forget what happened at its location in Terry Court Shopping Center.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO


On December 10, 2008, Danny Perry (left), having mourned his wife's sudden death for more than four decades, appeared somber yet relieved as Staunton Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Robertson announced the arrest of his wife's alleged killer.
PHOTO BY LINDSAY BARNES


Sharron Diane Crawford Smith, seen at left in her senior portrait at Wilson Memorial High School, was 20 at the time she allegedly shot and killed her two co-workers. On December 10, 2008, police took this mugshot of Smith, currently suffering from kidney failure in a Staunton assisted care facility.
WILSON MEMORIAL HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK PHOTO VIA STAUNTON NEWS LEADER/STAUNTON POLICE DEPARTMENT


Staunton police chief James Williams denies the allegation that his department delayed Smith's arrest as a means of stalling against re-opening the department up to charges of corruption. "Absolutely not," he says. "There was nothing more to this than trying to make sure justice is served. We want to be just, but we also want to be correct."
PHOTO BY LINDSAY BARNES


Former Staunton police investigator does not want to believe the worst about his former superior David Bocock and his potential motives for not investigating Smith more thoroughly, but, Hartless continues to dig because, he says, "there's just nothing worse than a dirty cop."
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO

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39 comments

More and better information about this tragedy than any other news source I've seen. Congratulations on a very fine job.

This would be a good article if only it were Roy Hartless that did solve this case, but he did not. The only thing he has done is try to steal the credit from Lowell Sheets and the man who worked with him who really solved this case. Guess Hartless needs more clients for his PI business? The families and those close to this investigation know who solved this and it was not Roy Hartless.

My question is, if Roy Hartless is such a crackerjack investigator, why didn't he solve the case while he was actually working for the department?

Can't you people read?

The article very clearly says what happened to bring the case to this point. Someone who had something to say finally said it to someone who was willing to follow up on it. Hartless was the one who followed up.

Nothing here claims that he was either "a crackerjack investigator," or the one who deserves the only credit for bringing the accused to trial.

The point of the article is that Hartless believes that some sort of relationship between someone who was once close to him and the accused might have hindered the investigation in the past and may have something to do with the police departments current actions. It certainly looks suspicious and it will be interesting to see what facts he can turn up to satisfy his curiosity.

Problem is, what I read here and the truth I know just don't match up. I really dislike reading false information being passed off, and people digesting it, as fact. I just wonder how much Mr. Hartless paid to have this 'article' written?

Dear DW,

I approached Hartless and he chose to talk to me, on the record, while others did not. Some assertions people shared with me off the record could be corroborated, others could not. If you've got something you'd like to share with me, please send me an e-mail at lindsay@readthehook.com.

Sincerely,
Lindsay Barnes

This is a very good article. Mr. Hartless was very involved with solving this case and he gives credit to Lowell Sheets. Working independently, I think each would have failed. Working together, the case is solved. I believe that one day, Mr. Sheets will tell his story.

I am glad to see that Mr. Hartless is willing to pursue a police cover-up, if in fact the SPD does not provide full details when this double murderer dies without being prosecuted. We know that she will never see a court date.

We all know that they are not going to do a thing except wait until she dies and she will never go to court. Her first court appearance has been postponed for 30 to 60 days to make sure she is never allowed to give testimony under oath. She is not being punished in any manner because she is on a personal recognizance bond, allowing her to have visits from her family and her partner at any time.

The Staunton PD and prosecutor's office has lost all credibility in my eyes.

I think this is the worst case I have ever seen come out of the Staunton Police Department. I think there is an on going coverup.

From what I understand Diane Crawford Smith has already made a plea deal- with Staunton Police Department and Commonwealth Attorney Ray Robertson that she will not go to court!!!

The press conference that Commonwealth Attorney Ray Robertson and the Staunton Police Department in my eyes was a total sham- they claimed they arrested the woman- and spoke as if she would go to trial- which we know now will never happen. Mr Robertson knew when he had the press conference that this dieal had been made for her not to go to court!!!

I can think of at least one reason why the Commonwealth Attorney's office was so slow to react on information Detective Roy Hartless had brought to him. Mr Commonwealth Attorney has been chasing Rick Krial and the "After Hours Video" for months- eventually causing them to close up. Mr Ray Robertson even had special meetings (this was all in the Daily Newsleader) where he set and watched movies from "After Hours Video" for hours to determine if they were legal or not!!!

I would dare to venture that if Commonwealth Attorney Ray Robertson had chased down Sharron Diane Crawford Smith- like he had Rick Krial- it is fair to say she might have already gone to court and be doing her well deserved time in jail!!!

What would I rather have in Staunton an "adult store" for adult customers only- or a person who murdered two people in Staunton- laying in a nursing home knowing full well she will never pay for what she did?? I think I would go with the "adult store" myself!!!

I think myself when election time rolls around again- Staunton needs to vote somebody in for Commonwealth Attorney other than Ray Robertson!!!!

Who has time to go after a person who supposedly committed double murder when they have places like a LEGAL "adult store" to go after and close down (after being the one to give Mr Krial a business license in the first place)???

Helen, get out on the streets and find an extremely well qualified candidate to run for election and replace Robertson.

The residents of Albemarle County had to do this last year. And there's a few more cities and counties that should be doing the same thing.

I live in Augusta County at the time- but I have on other blogs- begged anybody who was qualifed to please run against Mr Robertson when he comes up for re-election.

Mr Robertson has spent the last year being "Porno Man" and running the "adult store" out of the area. Mr Robertson should have been concentrating on the people out there who may have actually hurt somebody or in this case "murdered" two people.

We need to attract the FBI to this case and we need to get the story national. We need the AP to pick up the story and run with it.

If the case gets enough attention, we might be able to get Ray out of office. We need to attract a Commonwealth's Attorney that pursues criminals with the same zeal as they do the road to a judgeship. That's my worse fear: Ray Robertson as a judge!

Oh my sunnysmile- you just gave me about 3,000 nightmares. Ray Robertson as a Judge-doesnt even sound right- please people that man is only out for his own agenda. Getting Ray Robertson out of office is this area's only hope in starting to clean up the corruption in the court and police system in Staunton!!!!

I have done all the reading up etc on this case that I can- and from what I have read and heard- the hero - the one to break this case was indeed Private Investigator Lowell Sheets. Mr Sheets gave his time and effort tirelessly to finding the person who did this double murder.

If Roy Hartless would have listened as others should have back when all this happened Mrs Bradshaw tried to tell them then what she knew- but evidently then Roy Hartless and every other cop in Staunton took her to be a joke and she knew it.

The only person to come right out and believe Mrs Bradshaw and actually act on what she told him was indeed Lowell Sheets. I expect with no more attention that what Roy Hartless and others cops in Staunton had given Mrs Bradshaw- that Roy Hartless could have tripped over the killer 1000 times over and not known it.

I hate to see somebody like Roy Hartless stand up and take the credit- when he never even stopped to think of the name Diane Crawford Smith- until Lowell Sheets and already started to pry and investigate. And we are talking about a woman- who's name Sharron Diane Crawford Smith was actually in the file about the High's Icecream murders in at least one place.

And for Davey Bocock to tell people- oh yeah I know Diane Crawford she comes over to my farm and practice shoots all the time she ia s a "crack shot"- nobody could seem to put two and two together!!!!

And then Roy Hartless has said that Wayne Snodgrass was told he wouldnt even be allowed to talk to him about the case. If Wayne Snodgrass knew something about the case- because maybe he might tell something about the case that might incriminate the Great Davey Bocock???? This all doesnt make sense to me.

Believe Lowell Sheets is the one to think to finally bringing an end to this double muder and I applaude him for that, I just wish with somebody that has the good sense- the ability to see things that other people cant see- that Mr Lowell Sheets would run for Commonwealth Attorney and defeat "Porno Man" Ray Roberson as Commonwealth Attorney. I think Lowell Sheets is the person we need for Commonwealth Attorney in Staunton. As least as far Lowell Sheets is hard working and honest - which is way more than I can say about Ray Robertson'

I have done all the reading up etc on this case that I can- and from what I have read and heard- the hero - the one to break this case was indeed Private Investigator Lowell Sheets. Mr Sheets gave his time and effort tirelessly to finding the person who did this double murder.

If Roy Hartless would have listened as others should have back when all this happened Mrs Bradshaw tried to tell them then what she knew- but evidently then Roy Hartless and every other cop in Staunton took her to be a joke and she knew it.

The only person to come right out and believe Mrs Bradshaw and actually act on what she told him was indeed Lowell Sheets. I expect with no more attention that what Roy Hartless and others cops in Staunton had given Mrs Bradshaw- that Roy Hartless could have tripped over the killer 1000 times over and not known it.

I hate to see somebody like Roy Hartless stand up and take the credit- when he never even stopped to think of the name Diane Crawford Smith- until Lowell Sheets and already started to pry and investigate. And we are talking about a woman- who's name Sharron Diane Crawford Smith was actually in the file about the High's Icecream murders in at least one place.

And for Davey Bocock to tell people- oh yeah I know Diane Crawford she comes over to my farm and practice shoots all the time she ia s a "crack shot"- nobody could seem to put two and two together!!!!

And then Roy Hartless has said that Wayne Snodgrass was told he wouldnt even be allowed to talk to him about the case. If Wayne Snodgrass knew something about the case- because maybe he might tell something about the case that might incriminate the Great Davey Bocock???? This all doesnt make sense to me.

Believe Lowell Sheets is the one to think to finally bringing an end to this double muder and I applaude him for that, I just wish with somebody that has the good sense- the ability to see things that other people cant see- that Mr Lowell Sheets would run for Commonwealth Attorney and defeat "Porno Man" Ray Roberson as Commonwealth Attorney. I think Lowell Sheets is the person we need for Commonwealth Attorney in Staunton. As least as far Lowell Sheets is hard working and honest - which is way more than I can say about Ray Robertson'

This article gave me a good laugh. The real story is about someone who finally talked to Lowell Sheets and found someone who listened. However if you read this article (and bought everything that was typed) you'd believe Mr. Hartless was some kind hero. Here is some telling information from the article which may get lost in the mix: It said Roy Hartless was a STAUNTON Police Officer since 1973 and a detective from 1988 til retirement at the STAUNTON POLICE DEPARTMENT. If he is alleging that the department has covered this up then he must be alleging the same about himself. If it were so easy to solve, why didn't he do it when he had a badge. If the only reason it wasn't solved was a police cover up, why didn't he do some uncovering when he was sworn to do so. There may have been some connection between Bocock and the accused murderer but what motivation would a city government, police department, Chief, Lead Investigator, Investigations Supervisor have in protecting a deceased officer? I would bet that not one person working in the Staunton Police Department was even employed when these murders were originally investigated. Many not even born. If there was some intentional mishandling of the case from the onset it would be very easy for Police to simply say yes it happened and none of us were around then. Like some others who have posted, this article looks like an advertisement for Mr. Hartless...someone who (when you look at facts) did nothing for this case unless it was handed to him on a platter.

If the only reason it wasn't solved was a police cover up, why didn't Hartless do some uncovering when he was sworn to do so?

You're not going to like the answer to this question, and you almost have to work in law enforcement to believe and/or understand why he didn't solve the crimes most likely. He would have totally jeopardized his career to do so. It might be fine to blow the whistle and help solve a double murder, but he would have eventually ended up out on the street unemployed. Especially if solving the crime implicated a supervisor, a chief, a sheriff and a fellow officer. And not one soul would care about Hartless and his family after his termination from employment.

I am a firm believer there was more than one deputy sheriff in Albemarle that could have offered up information in solving the Pat Akins case 45 years ago. But to have done so they might as well have headed to the unemployment office and applied for benefits. Furthermore, just about everybody that had information that could have helped solve this case has passed on. I was expecting a death bed confession of enough relevant and pertinent facts to solve this case not long ago, but surprisingly it did not take place.

I'm sorry, the above was suppose to read...

Especially if solving the crime implicated a supervisor, a chief, a sheriff (OR) a fellow officer.

I typed AND when I meant OR. The word AND makes it sound like a supervisor, chief, sheriff and fellow officer were all involved in the coverup. That obviously was not the case.

SOTLRambos,

This case has nothing to do with Mr. Hartless possibly losing his job. Again, none of the employees at the Staunton Police Department were even around when this case was allegedly mishandled. According to the article, Hartless himself was in high school when the murders occurred! For him to be afraid, there would have to be someone to fear. What could today's officers possibly want to cover up? I bet if you asked a majority of those men and women, they didn't even know who Dave Bocock was until this past year. If Mr. Bocock did indeed mishandle the investigation, none of today's officers would have anything to hide. I have been keeping up with this story since it first came to light and I have heard no other credible information (including that from Mr. Hartless) about a cover up other than Mr. Bocock's initial investigation. The reason this case was not solved by the police department was because it appears that no one (including Staunton Detective Hartless) did a thorough investigation prior to 2008 when the case was handed to them by Bradshaw and Sheets.

This case has nothing to do with Mr. Hartless possibly losing his job? It most certainly does. While some will certainly see it as nothing more than my opinion, I explained why above.

I suggest you do some research and study on "The Code of Silence" within law enforcement agencies. It is indeed real. A prime example is former Albemarle County police officer Karl Mansoor. When he spoke out and blew the whistle within the agency he worked for.... let's just say he didn't last long thereafter. He won the battles in repearted lawsuits, but he did not win the war. While his actions and free speech certainly implicated people within the department of flagrant wrongdoing, it didn't even come close to implicating any in a murder coverup.

Just in case you are not familiar with Karl Mansoor, this pretty much sums up what happens when a cop crosses The Code of Silence within a law enforcement agency. They eventually lose their careers.

http://www.charlottesvillenewsplex.tv/home/headlines/2381601.html

February 27, 2006

In a special in-depth report we reveal the story of one former Albemarle County police officer who says he was so distraught by the corruption in the department that he sued them, and won. He settled his most recent lawsuit this past December.

It sounds like something from a movie: taped conversations, plenty of courtroom drama and one officer blowing the whistle to fight for what he thought was right.

Karl Mansoor joined the Albemarle County Police Department in 1994. He was a patrol officer from Norfolk looking to settle down with his wife and seven children. He thought it was his dream job--but that soon became short-lived.

"I started noticing double standards within the department, and I started finding out and learning about cover-ups of inappropriate or criminal activity in the department," said Mansoor.

What first caught Mansoor's attention were rumors of a high-ranking female officer fondling teen-aged girls in the student explorers program. Concerned, Mansoor says he alerted Police Chief John Miller to other related incidents of sexual harassment. He promised an investigation, but Mansoor alleges that never happened.

"It seemed like he just didn't want to hear that information," said Mansoor.

That was only the beginning. Over the next few years, Mansoor claims he observed shooting cover-ups, witnessed suspect beatings and watched as the same officers involved were promoted. When he spoke up he says a superior officer threatened him.

"He said if I continued to associate with certain people, that was other people that were also speaking up about problems in the department, that I wasn't going to get anywhere in the department," explained Mansoor.

Mansoor wasn't ready to back down. In 1997, three years after he began, Mansoor took another route. He secretly began recording hours of conversations with Chief Miller and other high-ranking officers. In one conversation Mansoor confronts his then sergeant about being written up for not changing the oil in his police car, although he says no one else was.

(Audio Tape)
Karl: "I just wish that policies would be adhered to the same for everybody in the department.

Sergeant: "It's difficult for me to comment on that."

Karl: "I know."

"There was nothing that I couldn't do that I wouldn't get reprimanded for, even petty, petty things," said Mansoor.

Eventually though, the burden of knowing too much took its toll on Mansoor.

continued-----

"I did tell the Chief that it was adversely affecting my health what I had been through and I felt that it was a work related concern. They took that opportunity to have me see a shrink," said Mansoor.

When Mansoor returned to work, he was forbidden to talk about anything negative concerning the police department. Mansoor says it was a violation of his first amendment rights, so he sued.

In 2002, he made headlines when a Federal Appeals court agreed with Mansoor. He won $180,000 dollars on behalf of the Albemarle County Police Department. During that suit, the chief never denied Mansoor's strong performance.

"I have never questioned Karl's service on the street,"said Chief Miller in one video deposition.

"He's a good officer?," asked Karl's attorney.

"I would say yes, he is," he replied.

Even after the suit, Mansoor continued working, but his problems only got worse.

"I guess lines were drawn and those that felt the same way that I did continued to be associated with me and supportive, where as those who decided they didn't want to speak up would limit their interaction with me," said Mansoor.

It got so bad, Mansoor says at times he was left without backup on calls. At this point he had enough. Feeling ousted by the same officers he once trusted, in 2004 Mansoor resigned and sued them once again--this time for forcing him out. This past December, they settled out of court for $200,000 dollars.

"Is it possible that some of the things that you've spoken about, maybe you exaggerated them a little bit?" asked reporter Sarah Batista.

"No I don't think I exaggerated them, if anything I...understated them. I was constantly trying to give people or incidents the benefit of the doubt," replied Mansoor.

Today, Mansoor is trying hard to move on with his family. He's working with a private security company. He's even considering writing a book about all of this and while the money he won in his lawsuit helped him financially, he says in the end it's not about the money. By telling his story he hopes the Albemarle County Police Department will, as he says, "clean up their act."

Mansoor stated, "I'd like to see officers treated fairly, and in terms citizens treated fairly, that's what I'd like to see."

The police department declined all requests for interviews, but in a statement released Monday Albemarle County Spokesperson Lee Catlin stated: "Mr. Karl Mansoor is a former county employee who has been involved in a number of matters of litigation against the county which have all been resolved. We don't have any additional comments on Mr. Mansoor's employment tenure or litigation issues at this time."

Nice bromance with Mansoor, SOLTLR. Unless you are Karl Mansoor, then it's just guileful self promotion.

Never Played The Games, you must be new around here. Just about everybody here knows I am not Mansoor. As I said above, Mansoor is an excellent example of why good decent cops have to keep their mouths shut. Even if it involves solving a double murder that has been covered up.

We could talk all day about past cases of whistle blowing in Albemarle, New York or anywhere else but that has nothing to do with this case.
I suggest that you apply your "Code of Silence" theory to this specific case and the facts surrounding it. Other than the original investigator in 1967, there has been no information regarding a cover up-even from Hartless.
This much I will agree with. If there was intentional mishandling of the case in 1967, the public should be made aware and assured that it was only then and not continuing. In the article the Chief admitted that the initial investigation (which was most likely before the Chief was employed at the department) was "flawed." The only additional information was that Mr. Hartless was complaining that the department reassigned the case from his friend (a patrol officer) to an investigator.
Mr. Hartless is a civilian now. There is no possibility that he will end up "on the street unemployed." Where is the information. If there is even one person at the police department responsible for a cover up, why doesn't he name them? Is he still afraid? His own words were "There's nothing worse than a dirty cop." Likely that he isn't naming because there isn't anyone to name.

We could talk all day about past cases of whistle blowing in Albemarle, New York or anywhere else..... but that has nothing to do with this case???? Why do I feel like I am butting my head up against a brick wall?

Yes, Mr Hartless is a civilian now. That's the point! He is now free to pursue, investigate and solve this crime without fear of repercussion and retaliation from anybody associated with the City of Staunton or the Staunton Police Department. And it explains why he possibly never pursued the murders while still employed by the same. He can't now be surreptitiously singled out and given his walking papers for exposing anything now that was covered up years ago. Yes, it happens. And I showed you proof of it happening on a local basis. Had he exposed any coverup while still employed as a Staunton police officer, or anybody who knew of the coverup, they would have made his life so hard that at a minimum he would have resigned under pressure.

Having said the above, all I am doing is offering a possible explanation to the question posed above by you, and I quote you, "why didn't Hartless do it when he had a badge". Why did you ask the question if you did not want a possible answer?

Unlike some of you, I do not see this news story as an advertisement for and about Hartless. And I give Hartless a lot more credit in solving this double murder than some of you do as well.

Indirectly though, I suppose it is good exposure for Hartless. I might look him up to investigate an unsolved crime from back in 2004. The real police sure haven't been able to solve the crime and aren't even working on solving the crime. After speaking with Hartless I am sure he will understand why the real police also have NO interest in solving the crime.

I feel your head butting pain.

You're right. You did provide a possible answer. I don't have to agree with it.

If you call waiting for 30 years until someone brings you the information needed to arrest solving a crime, he appears to be the one you want for the 2004 crime. That's going to be expensive.

The story is sensational just due to what happened however there was no remarkable detective or police work here. If you had a Bradshaw in your 2004 case, you could solve it yourself.

Correct, there appears to not have been a great deal of investigation that needed to be done to solve this double murder. I would go so far as to say this was an amazingly simple case to solve at the time. And this is also what makes the case scream of coverup. If I was employed by the police department that had agents I felt were orchestrating this coverup, I would have been reluctant to blow the whistle myself. It's often caled self preservation.

Unfortunately, there is no Bradshaw in the 2004 case I speak of. Just sloppy incompetent police work. And once this incompetence came to light, they had reason to NOT then solve the case therafter. I think an 18 year old criminal justice student at Piedmont Virginia Community College could have solved the crime I speak of.

From what I've read, I would say that the original officers may have either intentionally or unintentionally botched things. We are on the same page or at least in the same book there. However I have problems when people cast that net on a larger group of people who weren't there, and have no motivation to protect that botched investigation. I could be wrong but I just can't think of any reason why a department would "cover" for a group of people who are either dead or in jail, knowing that the current employees had nothing to do with flawed investigation. I guess what I am trying say is that just because one WalMart employee embezzled twenty years ago doesn't automatically make the current employees guilty of the same crime. I think some people have thrown the current department under the bus because of one from 1967. My guess is that most of those current employees are honest, dedicated and are appalled that there may have been some corruption in this case.
The essence of the story is that there was and continues to be a cover up and the only "evidence" of a current cover up is that Mr. Hartless' patrol friend was taken off the case so that an investigator could handle it. Hardly evidence. There was also information that three months was a long time to make an arrest, although we don't know what was going on in that three months. Were they doing other interviews, looking for the gun, or other things to cooberate her statements. Were they evaluating her mental status to determine if she could be fabricating the story? I certainly hope no one would think that a person should be arrested just because she admitted to the murders. Remember the first person who was arrested in this very case after making incriminating statements?
Unfortunately as time goes on so do the minds of local conspiracy theorists. We'll just have to wait until the rest of the story is revealed.
Good luck with the 04 case.

Just for what it's worth, and pretty much related to what I was saying above, here's 4 cops who recently got fired for speaking out and trying to expose misconduct within the department they worked for.

http://forums.officer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=109814

The link also includes another link where you can view the resulting lawsuits in PDF form. It's 36 pages long, what a stinking mess! And 4 careers down the drain.

This matter is in God's hands now, and His judgement.

There's a possibility Bocock thought Crawford was innocent. Perhaps she did pass the polygraph (some personality types can). He knew that Bradshaw had accused her so he went a little extra to help protect her. Crawford obviously was a friend of Bocock's. He possibly knew of her abused past and felt sorry for her and didn't want any additional "false" problems put on her shoulders. It certainly appears, even at best, he ignored his duties out of friendship and let an innocent man go through a trial and a lifetime of accusations.

Just read the story yesterday. In it the Hook tried to get the birth certificate for Sharron Diane Crawford Smith. Of course only family can get a birth certificate.
The family of Connie Hevener with the evidence today could petition the court to determine if Davie Bacock was the father of Sharron. Probably the court will not allow use of the name publicly but they would probably allow closure for Carrol and Laverne if Davie was the father of Sharon it would explain plenty.

So...I've never heard about this before, I'm only 19.
I read the whole thing and might have missed it...by WHY did she kill those two girls???

Dear Victoria,

In her confession, Sharron Diane Crawrford Smith said it was because they were "taunting, teasing" her about her being a lesbian. However, Connie Hevener's family disputes this. You can read more about it in this follow-up:

http://www.readthehook.com/stories/2009/02/26/COVER-Connie-C.aspx

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,
Lindsay Barnes

P.S. Readers, if you'd like to make a factual assertion, say about a motive for a crime, send it to me and I'll investigate. Otherwise, keep it out of this forum, please.

Good work, Lindsay! There was no excuse whatsoever for "motive" to make that remark. Just some kid playing sick from school, and playing on daddy's computer most likely.

Its common knowledge that the Investigative Division of the Staunton Police Department in the past resembled the Gambino crime family more than any law enforcement agency. I grew up in this "small" town; I had a family member who worked for the Highs ice cream store during this time frame. I’m in my late 30’s now and have always heard the story of the murders and was always told by my relative who past away several years ago that the murders were never solved because the “police didn’t want it solved”…

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