‘It’s probably on somebody’s conscience’: Neighbors remember homicide victim as police push for leads

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — There have been seven homicides in the city of Winston-Salem between May 23 and July 7.

Winston-Salem police investigators said that there have been strong leads developed in six of those cases. The one that has been the hardest to find information on is the brutal killing of Ella Lorine Crawley.

“It’s just one of those hard to track down leads,” Winston-Salem Police Lt. Gregory Dorn said.

Early in the morning on May 23, the 50-year old woman was found beaten, strangled and left bleeding near the trail at the Gateway Commons Community Park.

According to police, the next day, Crawley died as a result of her injuries. Authorities with the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Crawley died as a result of blunt force trauma and strangulation. At the time Crawley was discovered, certain items of her clothing were missing. Investigators are attempting to determine if Crawley may have also been the victim of a sexual assault.

Authorities believe she encountered her killer about an hour before she was found and they believe he lives in the area near the park.

The reason this case has been difficult for police to track is Crawley’s living status.

She had been homeless for about a year since her death, did not have a cellphone, was not on social media and was not seen by many people the day of her death.

“In this type of investigation we normally don’t have technology, phones, social media,” Dorn said. “We don’t have those. Now we’ve got boots on the ground investigations. That’s what solves these types of crimes.”

On Tuesday, dozens of law enforcement officers from around the Triad conducted a canvass of the area and neighborhoods surrounding the park.

Police handed out flyers and spoke with people who might frequent the area where she was found.

Officers also spoke with friends and neighbors from the apartment complex Crawley lived in until 2019.

“She was an older lady, she didn’t deserve that. This lady didn’t bother anybody,” Andrea Springs said.

She lived a few apartment units down from Crawley when she lived at Asterpark Apartments. Crawley was seen occasionally walking the parking lot of the complex and Gateway Commons Community Park next door.

“It’ll be something different if she bothered somebody, but she didn’t bother nobody. And it’s probably on somebody’s conscience, whoever done it. It should be,” Springs said.

While FOX8 reporters spoke with neighbors, they told crews they doubt anyone will speak to police, due to recent events across the country.

Before Tuesday’s canvass, Dorn said, that was not the case.

“I know we are several weeks beyond her murder date, that doesn’t mean we have not done anything in between. We’ve had detectives back out knocking on doors, we’ve had detectives come out and looking for witnesses, looking for video … It’s a steady investigation and as a tip comes in, it’s all hands on deck,” he said.

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