Husband convicted after car's GPS leads to missing wife's body
04/12/2016 4:00 pm PDT
A wife and mother of two goes missing, and in the search to find her police would follow a twisted trail of evidence left behind by a surprise suspect.
Beautiful Erica Crippen Crosby, 26, a young mother of two, vanished from her New Jersey home in December 2014. She was not reported missing for eight days.
Where was she? Was she dead or alive? Would authorities get to her in time?
When Erica Crippen got together with Kyle Crosby, she was a smart, sassy single mom to a 5-year-old girl. Erica had the goal of becoming a doctor.
Erica and Kyle knew each other from high school and reconnected years later on social media. At first their relationship was a whirlwind romance.
Erica was crazy about Kyle, and her family loved him too.
But not everyone was a fan. Over time Erica would confide only in her best friend, Amaris Torres, about the troubles brewing in the relationship, like his drug problems, past criminal record, and fights which at times turned physical.
Despite the problems, Erica and Kyle eventually got married and pregnant. Erica and Kyle found out they were having twins. The pregnancy was hard, and one twin didn't survive.
When Kay'lee was born, she was their princess, their miracle child, it seemed like they were living a fairy tale.
But behind closed doors, problems were escalating. Police had been called to the house for domestic disturbances, but Erica never pressed charges. But she did put Kyle in rehab, and while he was there Erica wrote him saying she was close to being done.
The family hoped it was just regular relationship growing pains. But they weren't. And it would be the tragic events on New Year's Eve which would soon shatter the worlds of all involved.
On December 30, 2014, Kyle and Erica went out to celebrate, putting their troubles to the side for an evening of fun. The next night was New Year's Eve, a time always spent with family.
But oddly enough, Erica's Aunt Sonya got two calls from Kyle that afternoon.
"He said he was going to let Erica go out for the evening and could I watch the kids and I thought it was strange," said Sonya. "I was like 'Erica's leaving New Year's not being with her kids?' He calls back again maybe 10 minutes later, 'Everything's fine Aunt Sonya, I let Erica's go out, I'm just going to stay in for tonight.'"
Throughout that New Year's Eve night, Erica's Uncle Conya said Kyle called several times looking for her. He had been calling but getting no answer. And strangely enough, there were no texts or calls to anyone else either.
An entire week went by and no one talked to Erica other than by text -- and the texts didn't even sound like her.
Things were about to unravel. When Erica's 7-year-old daughter wasn't picked up from school, officials went to investigate, and called Mt. Laurel Police.
"Kyle was there with their 3-month-old child who was at the time alone in the bathtub in a soiled diaper, still clothed," said Mt. Laurel Police Chief Dennis Cribben. "The officer immediately suspected there was improper child care going on."
Cops discovered Erica wasn't there and Kyle's answers to her whereabouts raised suspicions.
"He gave conflicting statements about where she was, when she was last seen, when she will return," said Cribben.
And why hadn't Kyle reported Erica missing in the last eight days? Very quickly it went from a missing-persons case to something far more serious
"We treated this as a potential homicide investigation within 24 hours of Erica being reported missing," said Cribben.
The stunning news shocked Erica's family, and they immediately started searching for her through the harshest of conditions.
Mt. Laurel Police soon went to arrest Kyle Crosby on child endangerment charges. When they arrived the couple's car was gone -- Kyle was on the run.
A "be on the look out" (BOLO) was issued for Kyle. As everyone searched, both cops and Erica's family were uncovering more incriminating details.
"He had gone into Camden, New Jersey to purchase drugs, he picked up a female in Camden and brought her back to the apartment and partied with this female," said Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Bernardi. "We interviewed her, she indicated that he told her that she could go into the wife's wardrobe and take whatever she wanted. You wouldn't think you would do that if your wife was coming back."
"We went over the house and the house was just destroyed," said Sonya.
Within days, investigators were alerted to Kyle's whereabouts and tried to pull him over on a traffic stop. But Kyle wasn't going to give up easily. A pursuit was on first by car, then on foot.
"Obviously he knew what he did and where our investigation was leading," said Cribben.
The dramatic chase ended with Kyle in custody on a child endangerment charge. But cops were about to learn Kyle could run, but he could not hide.
In the trunk there are some objects that are not normal household objects: Duct tape, a shovel and a bag of cement. And:
"Fortunately for us, unfortunately for Kyle, a receipt a from Home Depot," said Bernardi.
The receipt led investigators to surveillance video of Kyle coming out of the store with the items found in the trunk.
But where was Erica? Cops had no idea, but they had enough circumstantial evidence to charge Kyle Crosby with her murder.
Police believed someone else also had knowledge of what happened to Erica: Kyle's mother, Jo Crosby.
Investigators realized there had been communication between Jo and Kyle in the early morning hours of New Year's Eve day -- the same day Erica's communication with her family fell silent.
Around 7 a.m., police believe Jo Crosby went to the apartment to watch the kids while Kyle "ran errands." Allegedly at one point Jo told Erica's Aunt Sonya: "Oh it's not looking good for Erica."
By the time cops went to talk with Jo Crosby, she had deleted several of the texts between her and Kyle. Little did she imagine, they would be recovered -- what they revealed only heightened the suspicion.
Jo wrote: "Please do not touch her in any way or form."
Thirteen minutes later, Kyle sent a message that indicated he was not that stupid.
"We felt that she was somehow complicit in assisting him or attempting to assist him and perhaps how and when to dispose of the body," said Bernardi.
Cops arrested Jo Crosby and charged her with hindering apprehension and tampering with physical evidence by destroying records. Now, two Crosbys were in custody.
But Erica's family was still desperate to find her body.
Then a break: Everything investigators would need to know would be found in Erica's own car.
In the vehicle's GPS they were able to identify about 8,500 points, stops that Kyle had made while driving the car.
Cops used the tracker to narrow the number down drastically and hone in on a more concentrated area.
It was able to tell us he spent some time in Maryland. It appeared there was no reason for him to have stopped there based on the rural setting."
And allegedly Kyle went into the car's GPS and manually typed in notes for certain spots. Cops found notations like "IDK" and "Maybe." Were these clues to where Kyle could have buried Erica's body?
Investigators searched and searched. Then, more than two months after Erica went missing, 50 yards from the side of the road, they found a body bound with electrical cord under a pile of branches and tree limbs. It was Erica.
"The way Erica was found indicated she died a very violent death," said Chief Cribben. "Her hands tied behind her back, hog-tied, her mouth and nose duct taped shut."
Erica had also been strangled.
Kyle never said exactly what happened that night but cops believe he was high on drugs when they got into an argument, and, unfortunately, that argument, unlike the ones before, ended with deadly results.
Kyle ended up taking a plea deal which meant he would spend 31 years behind bars, not eligible for parole until he was in his mid-50s.
And as part of the deal, the charges against Kyle's mom, Jo Crosby, were dropped.
The day came when Kyle Crosby was going to be officially sentenced. Families from both sides were there.
Emotions were high, and Kyle was going to speak publicly.
"I'm sorry for my actions," he said in an orange jumpsuit in the courtroom. "The actions I committed were not planned out and the after-effect caused me to panic. I was scared and I acted in unexpected ways, lasting impression has left an indelible mark on my heart. I miss Erica, my wife, terribly. Not only do I love my wife and our children, but her family as well as mine. My in-laws always treated me as if I was a member of the family. Hopefully you'll find it in your heard to forgive me. I ask God to forgive me every day and I'm sorry again."
Now Erica's family is left to deal with and heal from their loss.
The brutal end to Erica's life meant she wouldn't get to raise the children she loved so much. Young Kay'lee was not even 3 months old when her father killed her mother.
Since her murder, Erica's oldest daughter has gone to live with her biological father. And Erica's Aunt Sonya and Uncle Conya have adopted Kay'lee and are focused on raising her like Erica would have.
"Erica shared with me that if anything were to happen to her, she wanted to be cremated and put into lockets so that her daughters could wear them around their necks closer to their hearts so she could be with them forever," said Sonya.