Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Crystal Todd Murder Case

A Grisly Discovery

On Sunday morning, November 17, 1991, streaks of daylight began to spread through the forests and fields of rural Horry County. The sky was clear and the air was unusually cool and quiet. It was perfect weather for deer hunting.

Just outside of Conway, in the Maple community, a pickup truck rumbled down one of the dirt roads that ran off Highway 813. It reached a heavily wooded area and pulled up to a stop. Two men climbed out and tested the air around them. One of them noticed something lying in a ditch beside the road. Both men stepped closer to look. They barely recognized it as the body of a human female.

Members of the Horry County Police Department, led by Chief J. Gordon Harris, immediately converged on the site. Homicide Detective, Bill Knowles made his way to the body and almost gagged.  He had seen many horrible things during his 13 years in law enforcement, but nothing like this.

An Hour to Kill
An Hour to Kill

The investigators noticed footprints, tire tracks and a trail of blood running to the ditch, as well as the apparent signs of a struggle between the victim and her killer. It was also obvious from the position of the body that she had been thrown into the ditch. Dale Hudson and Billy Hills, in their much heralded book, An Hour To Kill, note that Knowles and the homicide team deducted that "Drag marks to the ditch, approximately ten feet from the bloodstain, indicated that the victim was dragged to the ditch while dying or dead, possibly to forestall discovery." The authors go on to describe that "The victim had been found with her belt and blue jeans unfastened and pulled down around her hips. Her shirt was pulled open and torn, and along with her bra, was pulled up, exposing her breasts. The buttons from her shirt were missing. There was a large amount of blood on her face and a gaping three-to-four-inch opening across the throat area. The victim's throat had been slashed, perhaps more than once. There appeared to be several stab and slash wounds in the breast and abdomen area. She had a cut on the stomach and a ball of inner body portions protruding from her body." The possibility of a satanic killing was dismissed, but investigators began to wonder if the attack was sex-related.

Crystal Todd yearbook photo
Crystal Todd yearbook photo

The evidence team took many photographs and videos of the crime scene. They gathered blood samples, impressions of the tire and shoe prints, and scrapings from under the victim's fingernails. A class ring was also removed from her fingers.  Inside the ring was engraved the name Crystal Faye Todd.


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