It was a year of heartache and fear for many Crofton residents who were stunned by the slaying of a good friend and two rapes.
The most shocking incident in a violent year came on Sept. 17, when the body of Gwyn Dixon Criswell, 41, was found in the woods behind the Crofton library on Route 3.
The popular Crofton resident, who worked at the Department of Defense, left her home at 10:30 a.m. the day before to go shopping at Crofton Square. At 4:15 p.m., her husband reported her missing.
Police searched for hours that Sunday and by the end of Monday, they found her partially nude body. Court documents show she had been strangled.
Steven Gregory Anderson, 29, of no fixed address, was charged with first-degree murder. Annapolis police arrested Anderson after finding him with Criswell's white Plymouth Sundance, which was was parked on West Street in Annapolis.
Dixon's slaying, as well as two rapes in the neighborhood, prompted residents to form security patrols to protect their homes.
"There was so much going on there at the same time," said county police Lt. William Tankersley who heads the Crimes Against Persons section.
Crofton is a community where friends remembered Dixon as a neighbor who threw annual block parties. It's a place where taking walks along the tree-lined Crofton Parkway or through Crofton Park has been a tradition.
But many residents said the community lost it's sense of security and was slammed into reality by the violence this year.
To add to their anguish, it was learned that two days before the slaying, Anderson was released on personal recognizance after being charged with theft and destruction of property.
Anderson had been released from the Eastern Correctional Institution on June 25 after serving a five-year sentence for a string of burglaries in Edgewater in 1985. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison, but got out 17 months early because he had earned good-behavior and work credits.