Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Crystal Todd Murder Case

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News of her daughter's death shattered Bonnie Todd. Her world collapsed and she began to wail uncontrollably, as detectives helplessly sat nearby. The men were thankful they had to forgo specifics. They wanted to ease the bereaved woman's pain, but had no suspect and had not yet established a motive. They could only assure her they were doing all they could to find the killer.

That Monday, November 18, articles on the murder appeared in newspapers statewide. None mentioned how brutal the crime was, only that Crystal Todd died of multiple stab wounds. Horry County Detective Bill Knowles, lead homicide investigator on the murder case, knew the importance of confidentially in an ongoing case. They were still trying to find anyone who might have seen Crystal or her Celica between 11:15 and 11:30 p.m. that Saturday. That was the last time anyone has reported seeing her alive. There also was nothing to indicate whether she knew her killer.  

The Sun News reported that a friend of Crystal said, "I think she saw someone she knew and rode with them." Bonnie Faye Todd also commented that "I knew she was somewhere she didn't want to be or she would have called. I told them [police] that if that car was on the road [at that late hour], then somebody else was driving it." Bonnie made an emotional plea for the public's help in finding her daughter's killer; "She was my whole life. I don't know that I'll make it without her. I don't really want to."

Later, The Sun News ran another article with Police Chief Harris informing the public that Horry County was putting up a $5,000 reward, in addition to another $5,000 offered by Horry County Crime Stoppers, for any information that would lead to finding Crystal Todd's killer. "We cannot emphasize how serious and how strongly we consider this particular crime to be," Harris said. "It's probably one of the most brutal that many of us have seen in a long, long time." 

Crystal Todd's body had been sent to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston for a full forensic autopsy. Results were revealed that the victim had more than 30 cuts and stabs, seven bruises and three abrasions. Her throat had been cut from ear to ear, she had been stabbed in a linear pattern down her chest and had been disemboweled.  Three of the stab wounds crushed her skull and one entered her brain. Bruises to her vaginal and rectal areas were consistent with brutal vaginal and anal rape. Semen was found in both areas and in her mouth. It was clear she lived for several minutes after the attack and bled to death.


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