Local News

Police Look at Possible Ties Between Student, Suspect

Posted January 10, 2007
Updated January 11, 2007

— Police remained tight-lipped Wednesday about any relationship between a Guilford County 911 dispatcher, a North Carolina Central University student she is charged with killing and the slain woman's fiance, a Greensboro police officer.

Shannon Elizabeth Crawley, 27, was arrested Tuesday evening and charged with murder in the Jan. 4 shooting death of Denita Monique Smith, 25.

Smith, a graduate student from Charlotte, was found dead at the bottom of a stairwell in the Campus Crossings Apartments complex on East Cornwallis Street in Durham.

Crawley, a single mother with two elementary school-age children, lives blocks from Jermeir Stroud, an N.C. Central graduate who got engaged to Smith last month.

"We're still trying to determine the relationship of all three," Cpl. David Addison of the Durham Police Department said.

Crawley's neighbors said she and her children moved in a few months ago and kept to themselves.

"I never saw anybody coming in or out of the house or anything. I'm just in total shock," one woman said.

Stroud's neighbors said he also kept to himself. Some said they had no clue the suspect in a murder case lives so close.

Durham investigators searched Crawley's house and car several days ago, police said.

Authorities have refused to discuss any possible motives. but police said that Smith's death didn't appear to be a random act of violence.

"In this case, we didn't think it would be beneficial for the media to have (that information) or the public to know it," Addison said.

Crawley's attorney, Bruce Lee of Greensboro, also declined to comment on the case Wednesday after Crawley was ordered held without bond at the Durham County Detention Center.

Her next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 1.

Crawley had worked at Guliford Metro 911 since 2000. She was suspended Saturday after being named a person of interest in Smith's murder.

Donna Estes of Guilford Metro 911 called Crawley a good employee and said she and others were stunned by the arrest.

"I don't know that anyone ever expects anything like this to happen," Estes said. "I like to — as well as my co-workers like to — maintain that everyone is innocent until proven guilty."

Smith was described by N.C. Central faculty and students as a star student. She had received a bachelor's degree in English from the university and had planned to wrap up her master's thesis this semester.

Her funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at University Park Baptist Church in Charlotte. North Carolina Central University is providing transportation for students who want to attend Smith's funeral. Buses leave from the student union at 10 a.m.

Durham police and community organizers canvassed the Campus Crossings complex Wednesday evening. They hoped to jog neighbors' memories and turn up more evidence in the case.

Officers had received a call about gunshots in the area the morning Smith was slain but found nothing at the time. Witnesses saw a woman driving away from the apartment complex in a burgundy Ford Explorer at about the same time as the gunshots were reported.

Police later located and interviewed the woman, but police haven't disclosed whether she is Crawley.

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  • kaecee Jan 24, 2007

    Why are we focusing on NCCU versus the crime? I agree with the comment that this is not a crime that happened at the university, but a crime that happened in the city involving an NCCU student. Because this is a historically black university, the media and public always try to portray the university in a negative view. Based on the comments, it's clear that some individuals have tunnel vision. ljcs357, thank you for having the common sense to see beyond ignorance and looking at the real issue.

  • latanya512 Jan 11, 2007

    First of all, spook said it all.Secondly, don't condemn the fiance until we know all the facts. Stop condemning the school. Look at the white collar criminals and murderers coming out of some of US top Ivy league schools. This did not happen on NCCu's campus. Some people need to stay focused. THere is a family burying their child today and one visiting their mother in jail. Think of those people. Please get your mind out of the gutter and we all need to stop the racial hate.

  • Wisdom Jan 11, 2007

    I honestly believe that this situation has nothing to do with race. A couple of headline crimes that I recall recently: Duke Lacrosse and the UNC-Wilmington crimes/deaths, had nothing to do with the school itself, but it just so happened to involve students who attended school there. The truth is: yes, racism does still exist, but no, EVERYTHING story, headline, issue, or event does not surround race.

  • whocares Jan 11, 2007

    First Duke and now NCCU. People just don't get it. The school has nothing to do with the crime. My only thought is how much did Ms. Crawley loved her children. She sure didn't care if they were left without a mother. I really feel compassion for the children because they had nothing to do with this.

  • ljcs357 Jan 11, 2007

    I want to thank Mike for making those ridiculous comments yesterday to reassure me that ignorance still exists. “Fourth Rate University,” really? Perhaps this is the first story on a NCCU graduate you’ve ever seen. Not only are you wrong your simple mind can’t spin its wheels hard enough to grasp that where she went to school had nothing to do with it. This could have happened to anyone at anytime. E. Cornwallis Rd. is not on NCCU’s college campus, last time I checked. I’m sure you would be able to piece that together if you made it out of High School, so lets avoid saying the first thing that pops in our simple mind, okay?. You criticized her for going to school in that particular area of Durham and turn around and say you work 5 minutes from NCCU. You see what I am getting at?..Probably not but for now lets try gather facts and make intelligent responses with the information provided. The fact is that the life of one of God’s children was cut short in cold blood and j

  • finallysingle Jan 11, 2007

    I had "him " involved all along,stats show "who the most likely" to be unfaithful are.I did say most likely.But we will watch this play out.In the mean timemy eyes will lean more towards the cases where the living has been wrongly accused !!!

  • glsnapp Jan 11, 2007

    Engaged last month ??? Oh that explains it all. Crawley wanted that man to herself to help take care of them two kids. All the pieces to the puzzle are coming together now.

  • Strong31 Jan 11, 2007

    Well in my opinion Ms. Crawley was probably a crazy ex-girlfriend of the Greensboro police officer and she probably flipped out when she found out that they were engaged. As we all know some women just do not know how to let go and move on. And if she is indeed his ex-girlfriend, now we all see why he left her alone, because her tail was crazy! But on a serious note, my heart goes out to Ms. Smith's family/friends, because they are going through an extremely tough time right now. I cannot begin to imagine what a tragedy this is for them. My heart also goes out to Ms. Crawley's family/children, this must be a shock for them also, but they are not responsible for the actions of someone else no matter how close they are with the person. Let's keep them all in prayer.

  • Vstacei Jan 11, 2007

    After reading the story and scrolling down to the comments, I was thinking that I was going to read comments about how people felt what should happen next to the suspect in this case. I mean that is what we should be commenting about. But noooooo!!! I am reading comments about how if Denita Smith did not go to one of the most pretigous colleges on earth, then maybe she would still be alive.... As I pause and think about that statement it makes me furious. Denita Smith did nothing wrong to have this happen to her. The people that made this comments should be ashamed of themselves. I too am a graduate of NCCU majored in Criminal Justice 05, and I am proud of that just like we all should be. I never thought the school would have anything to do with the wrongful death of a good person...RIP DENITA SMITH!!!! MY PRAYERS GO OUT TO THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!!

  • blkcadi01 Jan 11, 2007

    ok i done heard it all its like this the way i see it is dude had something to do with it if he was thur or not he knows whats going on i just think it a shame to good women lose there life over a guy who still going to be out here doing what ever he wants to do i just think its a loss all around the board then to put like she smilen when thats here work id photo people just always judge things they dont even know