Man found dead one day after release from Fayette County jail, records show

tharrison@herald-leader.comJune 10, 2013 

  • Can you help?

    Anyone with additional information about this case is asked to the call the Lexington Division of Police at (859) 258-3600, the Robbery/Homicide Unit at (859) 258-3700 or Bluegrass Crime Stoppers at (859) 253-2020. Tips also may be submitted by cellphone; simply text: "tips2020" plus your message to CRIMES (274637). Information also may be submitted at Bluegrasscrimestoppers.com.

On the day before his body was found, Lexington's latest homicide victim was released from jail, where he had been held for alcohol intoxication, according to court records.

Tommy Edward Crawford, 45, was found dead Saturday night in a tree-lined field near Georgetown Street and Newtown Pike. The cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Investigators have charged Jimmie D. Alexander, 38, with murder, according to a news release from Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts.

The release did not shed any light on what happened Saturday. Police have said an altercation occurred, but no other details have been released.

Roberts said Alexander was being treated at University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center for injuries he received during Saturday's altercation. She said the injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

Alexander has been arrested multiple times for public intoxication, among other charges, according to court documents.

Capt. Darin Kelly, a spokesman for the Fayette County jail, said Crawford had a history of alcohol intoxication convictions and the latest arrest was Wednesday.

When Lexington police arrested Crawford on Old Georgetown Road, he was charged with alcohol intoxication, criminal trespassing and failure to appear on alcohol intoxication charges, according to court records.

Crawford pleaded guilty Friday to alcohol intoxication and was given credit for time served. He was released from the jail at 5:36 p.m. Friday, Kelly said.

Melanie Garvin, a manager at Corner Liquor Store, said a man came into the store Saturday night with blood on his leg and sleeve. The store, at 371 Georgetown Street, is near the area where Crawford's body was found.

Garvin, 39, said the man came into the store twice that night. The first time, he asked if she had seen his friends. He returned hours later, which is when Garvin noticed the blood. She refused to serve him because he appeared to be intoxicated and said he had been in the hospital. She asked him to leave but offered to call an ambulance for him.

Garvin did not know the man's name but said she recognized him as a homeless man who came in a few times a week.

An hour or so later, Garvin said, she saw a lot of police officers near the store and then the coroner arrived. Later, the police came to talk to workers at the store.

The next day, Garvin said, she found out that Crawford's mom had been looking for him. Crawford was a regular, and Garvin said he came in every day.

"We loved Tommy here," Garvin said. "He was a good customer. All of us knew Tommy. He's been coming here for years."

She said Crawford's mother is a nice woman, too, and Garvin said she was sad about what happened to Crawford.

"Tommy was harmless," she said. "I don't know why anyone would do that to him."

In an interview Monday, Crawford's sister Cindy Gabbard of Lexington said her brother had a problem with alcohol. It got worse after 2000, when a brother, Michael Crawford, died in an accidental fall in Jessamine County. Michael Crawford was last seen atop the 280-foot High Bridge railroad trestle, according to Herald-Leader archives. He apparently had gone to the area with a couple of friends, but it was unclear whether he jumped or fell off the bridge when a southbound Norfolk Southern train approached, the archives said.

"After we lost my oldest brother ... it was like he didn't care anymore," Gabbard said.

Gabbard, 47, said Tommy Crawford had seizures. He had multiple brain surgeries. In 2009, Gabbard said, Crawford was hit in the back of the head, leading to clotting in his brain. His mother had to take care of him, Gabbard said.

Gabbard said police have not contacted the family about Crawford's death.

"We had to actually find out on our own by walking around looking for him, and my mom found the blood and stuff where it happened at, and we found his shirt laying there, so that made us wonder," Gabbard said.

After that, Gabbard said, her oldest daughter contacted the coroner.

A candlelight vigil was held for Crawford on Monday evening at Lexington's Triangle Park.

"We're just doing it just in memory of Tommy," Gabbard said. "Something a little special to make us maybe feel a little bit better about our loss and let him know that we really loved him."

Thirty to 40 people — mostly friends and family — gathered with candles and a wooden cross to remember Crawford. A cross with messages such as "RIP" and "We love you Tommy" leaned against a nearby tree.

Dessie Lykins, Crawford's mother, said she wanted to hold a vigil because Crawford had a lot of friends. Lykins, 63, also wanted to do it because she did not hold a vigil when her other son died.

"He got along with everybody," Lykins said of Tommy Crawford. "He wouldn't hurt anybody."

Most friends and family said similar things about Crawford. He was said to be "funny" and a person that "everybody" loved.

Teri Meyer, Crawford's cousin, said she was glad they did something to honor Crawford — and relieved that it stopped raining and the sun came out right before the vigil.

"It seemed like he was in heaven looking down," said Meyer, 24.

Kay Walton, who said she and Crawford grew up together and had been friends for 30 years, thought of Crawford "more like a brother."

She said despite his problem with alcohol, Crawford was a great guy.

"He would give you the shirt off his back," Walton said. "He was always the one who would make you laugh."


Can you help?

Anyone with additional information about this case is asked to the call the Lexington Division of Police at (859) 258-3600, the Robbery/Homicide Unit at (859) 258-3700 or Bluegrass Crime Stoppers at (859) 253-2020. Tips also may be submitted by cellphone; simply text: "tips2020" plus your message to CRIMES (274637). Information also may be submitted at Bluegrasscrimestoppers.com.


Herald-Leader staff reporter Valarie Honeycutt Spears contributed to this story. Taylor Harrison: (859) 231-1324. Twitter: @heraldleader.

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