Crawford case: Victim pleaded for protection

Sarah Crawford pleaded with a judge to make her estranged husband stay away from her. Before and during their five-year marriage, she said in court records, he pounded on her head with his fists, forced her to have sex with him, and threatened to kill her "on numerous occasions.''

Crawford, 33, was granted a temporary protective order November 1 in Manassas, but the judge declined to extend it at a hearing November 16. Six days later, she was found shot to death in a Charlottesville hotel room.

Friday, Anthony Dale Crawford, 45, was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida, on warrants charging him with abduction and first-degree murder. Crawford was in the Duval County jail Saturday pending extradition.

Paul B. Ebert, Prince William County commonwealth's attorney, said he did not attend Sarah Crawford's court hearing and he did not know why the judge did not grant an extension of the protective order.

"Protective orders work in many cases, but they're not foolproof,'' said Ebert, who declined to say whether the judge should have granted the extension, given the abuse alleged in the affidavit. "This is the worst of the worst when it comes to domestic violence.''

The victim's parents, Irene and John Powers, who live just outside Manassas, said they became concerned November 19 when they could not track her down at work. Her parents went to a steakhouse where she was supposed to be on a blind date, but they could not find her.

Later that night, after they made several frantic calls to her cell phone, a Manassas man called the Powerses at their home saying he had found Sarah's cell phone discarded outside his home.

Two days later, the parents filed a missing person's report, they told The Washington Post.

Charlottesville police were called early Monday morning, November 20, for a "suspicious circumstance'' at a Quality Inn motel room reserved under Anthony Dale Crawford's name. In the room, police discovered Sarah's Crawford body underneath a bedsheet with a gunshot wound near her right armpit.

The couple met in South Carolina in the early 1990s and were married in March 1999, according to family members and Sarah Crawford's affidavit for a preliminary protection order. She wrote that the abuse began in November 1995, when she broke a finger trying to shield her head from his punches. A year and a half later, he grabbed her in a headlock and rammed her head into a wall light switch, she said, an injury that required six stitches.

"I was afraid to call the police for both incidents because he said he would kill me if I did,'' she wrote.

Crawford has been charged with a violent crime– and made headlines– before, officials said. In 1992, he was acquitted of sexually assaulting his then-wife in Columbia, South Carolina, after jurors saw a videotape of him having sex with her while her hands and legs were tied and her mouth shut with duct tape, according to a May 15, 1992, transcript from CNN's Larry King Live.

After his acquittal, he and his defense attorney told Larry King that the sex was consensual and that he and his wife were playing a "sex game.''

The Powerses said they knew little about the earlier allegations. They said their daughter was turning around her life. She loved her new job at a television production company, and she had lost 200 pounds in the past two years, they said.

Charlottesville police said they learned of the South Carolina charge during their investigation.

"I thought it was sad that he would be charged with that crime years ago and allegedly exhibit the same sort of behavior now,'' Charlottesville police Detective Richard Hudson said.

Anthony Dale Crawford was to return to Charlottesville December 1 to face first-degree murder, abduction, grand larceny, and firearms charges in the Quality Inn death of his wife, Sarah Crawford, who had sought a protective order extension against him.<br>JACKSONVILLE SHERIFF'S OFFICE