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By Jeff Barker and Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF | July 8, 2003
ROCKVILLE - A remorseless Benjamin Sifrit was sentenced to 38 years in prison yesterday by a judge who called him "a butcher" and said he disagreed with the jury that found the former Navy SEAL guilty of only one murder in Ocean City last year. Montgomery County Circuit Judge Paul H. Weinstein suggested that he was itching to give Sifrit more prison time for what the judge termed the "thrill killing" of insurance executive Martha Crutchley, 51. But a jury declined April 9 to return a verdict of first-degree murder against Sifrit, instead finding him guilty of second-degree murder in Crutchley's death and clearing him in the killing of her boyfriend, mortgage banker Joshua Ford, 32. The judge said it was "one of the few instances in 20 years that I disagreed with the jury's verdict."
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NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel and Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF | June 8, 2004
Claiming that prosecutors broke a deal not to prosecute her for murder if she cooperated with police, lawyers for Erika Sifrit asked the state's highest court yesterday to overturn her conviction in the killing and dismemberment of two tourists in Ocean City. Within moments, lawyers for Benjamin Sifrit took their turn before the Maryland Court of Appeals, asking that his conviction be erased because, they said, prosecutors gave two theories of the killings. Prosecutors said the couple killed Martha Crutchley, 51, and Joshua Ford, 32, both of Fairfax, Va., for fun over Memorial Day weekend 2002 in the penthouse where the Sifrits were staying.
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NEWS
By Ariel Sabar and Ariel Sabar,SUN STAFF | June 1, 2002
A young husband and wife were charged yesterday in the deaths of a Virginia couple missing since their Memorial Day weekend visit to Ocean City, police said. Martha M. Crutchley, 51, and her boyfriend, Joshua E. Ford, 32, had left for Ocean City on May 17. They were reported missing Wednesday after Crutchley failed to show up for an important business meeting. Yesterday, Benjamin and Erika Sifrit of Altoona, Pa., were charged in their deaths, after police searched the Sifrits' Ocean City condominium and found blood-splattered walls, two spent shell-casings and a key to a nearby oceanfront condo where Crutchley and Ford had been staying.
NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel and Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF | June 8, 2004
Claiming that prosecutors broke a deal not to prosecute her for murder if she cooperated with police, lawyers for Erika Sifrit asked the state's highest court yesterday to overturn her conviction in the killing and dismemberment of two tourists in Ocean City. Within moments, lawyers for Benjamin Sifrit took their turn before the Maryland Court of Appeals in Annapolis, asking that his conviction be erased because, they said, prosecutors gave two theories of the killings. Prosecutors said the couple killed Martha Crutchley, 51, and Joshua Ford, 32, both of Fairfax, Va., for fun over Memorial Day weekend 2002 in the penthouse where the Sifrits were staying.
NEWS
By Jim Haner and Jim Haner,Sun Staff Writer | April 12, 1995
A Florida newspaper report linking a man known as the "vampire rapist" to a string of 32 unsolved murders nationwide -- including nine in Maryland -- met with skepticism yesterday from police, who say they have no evidence to support the claim.But the disturbing habits of John B. Crutchley make it risky to ignore the allegations completely, say those who have followed his case over the years."Anybody who would do the kind of things this guy has done in his life is capable of pretty much anything," said James Wilt, a private detective in northern Virginia who tracked Crutchley for more than six years in an effort to link him to the 1978 murder of a Fairfax County woman that is still unsolved.
NEWS
By Stephanie Desmon and Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF | June 3, 2003
FREDERICK - Opening statements are scheduled this morning in the case of a Pennsylvania woman accused of killing a pair of Ocean City tourists over Memorial Day weekend last year. In a Frederick courtroom yesterday, lawyers chose a jury of seven women and five men for a trial that is expected to last more than a week. Erika Sifrit, 25, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder as well as theft, burglary, carrying a concealed handgun and being an accessory after the fact. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
NEWS
By Jeff Barker and Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF | April 10, 2003
ROCKVILLE - A jury convicted former Navy SEAL Benjamin Sifrit last night of second-degree murder in the slaying of an Ocean City tourist, but cleared him of charges in the death of her boyfriend, whose dismembered body was found in a Delaware landfill. After deliberating more than 13 hours over two days, the jury found Sifrit, 25, guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the slaying of insurance executive Martha Crutchley, 51, of Fairfax, Va. Jurors declined to return a finding of first-degree murder.
NEWS
By Ivan Penn and Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF | June 7, 2003
FREDERICK --Attorneys for Erika E. Sifrit offered her defense yesterday, calling a half-dozen witnesses as they attempted to show that her husband was the killer of two Ocean City tourists whose dismembered bodies were found in a Delaware landfill. Meanwhile, in a surprise move, the prosecution decided to drop five charges against Sifrit, including accessory after the fact in the killings of 32-year-old Joshua Ford and his girlfriend, Martha Crutchley, 51. The decision will force jurors to decide whether Erika Sifrit participated in the killings, and is guilty of murder, or should be cleared entirely in the homicides.
NEWS
By Jeff Barker and Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF | April 9, 2003
ROCKVILLE - Jurors began deliberating first-degree murder charges against former Navy SEAL Benjamin Sifrit yesterday after prosecutors derided his story of being asleep in a car while his wife killed two Ocean City tourists last year. After four hours, Judge Paul H. Weinstein sent the jury home for the night with instructions to resume deliberations today. In yesterday's closing arguments, prosecutors called Sifrit a "trained killer" with a "selective memory" about his alleged role in the slayings and dismemberment of Martha Gene Crutchley, 51, and her boyfriend, Joshua Ford, 32, both of Fairfax, Va., during the Memorial Day weekend.
NEWS
By Chris Guy and Chris Guy,SUN STAFF | June 4, 2002
HARDSCRABBLE, Del. - Using everything from heavy equipment to hand rakes, officers from nearly 40 Delmarva police agencies found dismembered bodies yesterday in a landfill here, believed to be a Virginia couple who police say were killed over Memorial Day weekend in an Ocean City penthouse. "Body parts or remains have been found and taken to the Delaware medical examiner's office to determine if these are the missing people," said Jay Hancock, an Ocean City police spokesman. "Obviously, the search will continue on past darkness."
NEWS
By Jeff Barker and Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF | July 8, 2003
ROCKVILLE - A remorseless Benjamin Sifrit was sentenced to 38 years in prison yesterday by a judge who called him "a butcher" and said he disagreed with the jury that found the former Navy SEAL guilty of only one murder in Ocean City last year. Montgomery County Circuit Judge Paul H. Weinstein suggested that he was itching to give Sifrit more prison time for what the judge termed the "thrill killing" of insurance executive Martha Crutchley, 51. But a jury declined April 9 to return a verdict of first-degree murder against Sifrit, instead finding him guilty of second-degree murder in Crutchley's death and clearing him in the killing of her boyfriend, mortgage banker Joshua Ford, 32. The judge said it was "one of the few instances in 20 years that I disagreed with the jury's verdict."
NEWS
By Jeff Barker and Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF | June 10, 2003
FREDERICK - The prosecution in the Erika Sifrit double-murder trial argued for the first time yesterday that she not only aided her husband in the killings, but that she likely fired two shots from the murder weapon during a night of violence in an Ocean City condominium. But prosecutor Joel J. Todd argued that even if Sifrit left all the shooting to her husband - and only the Sifrits know what happened for sure - there is ample evidence that she "aided and abetted" him in the killings of tourists Joshua Ford, 32, and his girlfriend, Martha Crutchley, 51. In closing arguments, Todd said he wanted jurors to understand that they could find Sifrit, 25, a former honors student at Mary Washington College in Virginia, guilty of two first-degree murder counts "whether she pulled the trigger or not."
NEWS
By Ivan Penn and Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF | June 7, 2003
FREDERICK --Attorneys for Erika E. Sifrit offered her defense yesterday, calling a half-dozen witnesses as they attempted to show that her husband was the killer of two Ocean City tourists whose dismembered bodies were found in a Delaware landfill. Meanwhile, in a surprise move, the prosecution decided to drop five charges against Sifrit, including accessory after the fact in the killings of 32-year-old Joshua Ford and his girlfriend, Martha Crutchley, 51. The decision will force jurors to decide whether Erika Sifrit participated in the killings, and is guilty of murder, or should be cleared entirely in the homicides.
NEWS
By Ivan Penn and Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF | June 6, 2003
FREDERICK - The prosecution in the double-murder trial of Erika E. Sifrit finished its case yesterday using an unlikely witness in an attempt to further tie her to a weapon used in one of the slayings - her father. E. Scott Collins, Worcester County assistant state's attorney, called Mitchell Grace to the stand in the final moments of yesterday's testimony, questioning him about a gun that his son in-law, former Navy SEAL Benjamin Sifrit, bought for his wife, Erika. "He upset me when he told me he was planning on buying my daughter a gun," Grace said.
NEWS
By Stephanie Desmon and Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF | June 4, 2003
FREDERICK - The prosecution and lawyers for a Pennsylvania woman on trial in the killing of two Ocean City tourists agree on a host of details, they told the jury during opening statements yesterday. They agree that Martha Crutchley, 51, and Joshua Ford, 32, were lured to an oceanfront penthouse condominium over Memorial Day weekend last year, that they were killed inside, that their dead bodies were dismembered and that their remains ended up in a Delaware landfill. The disagreement is over who committed the murders.
NEWS
By Stephanie Desmon and Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF | June 3, 2003
FREDERICK - Opening statements are scheduled this morning in the case of a Pennsylvania woman accused of killing a pair of Ocean City tourists over Memorial Day weekend last year. In a Frederick courtroom yesterday, lawyers chose a jury of seven women and five men for a trial that is expected to last more than a week. Erika Sifrit, 25, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder as well as theft, burglary, carrying a concealed handgun and being an accessory after the fact. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
NEWS
By Stephanie Desmon and Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF | June 4, 2003
FREDERICK - The prosecution and lawyers for a Pennsylvania woman on trial in the killing of two Ocean City tourists agree on a host of details, they told the jury during opening statements yesterday. They agree that Martha Crutchley, 51, and Joshua Ford, 32, were lured to an oceanfront penthouse condominium over Memorial Day weekend last year, that they were killed inside, that their dead bodies were dismembered and that their remains ended up in a Delaware landfill. The disagreement is over who committed the murders.
NEWS
By Chris Guy and Chris Guy,SUN STAFF | June 5, 2002
A day after human remains were uncovered in a landfill 25 miles north of Ocean City, Delaware's chief medical examiner told resort police yesterday that he could not determine whether the dismembered parts are those of a Virginia couple investigators believe were killed in a luxury beachfront penthouse Memorial Day weekend. Instead, DNA samples will be tested by forensics experts at the Maryland State Police Crime Laboratory in Pikesville to determine if the remains are those of Martha Crutchley, 51, and Joshua Ford, 32, who were reported missing by co-workers when they failed to return from vacation a week ago. Military officials revealed yesterday that a former Navy SEAL who police believe shot the Virginia couple and disposed of their bodies was court-martialed in October 2000 for being absent without leave, insubordination and other offenses, then given a bad-conduct discharge that was made final May 14. Officials in Delaware and Maryland declined yesterday to say why conventional identification methods such as fingerprints or dental records failed to identify body parts that were discovered in half-a-dozen black trash bags.
NEWS
By Jeff Barker and Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF | April 10, 2003
ROCKVILLE - A jury convicted former Navy SEAL Benjamin Sifrit last night of second-degree murder in the slaying of an Ocean City tourist, but cleared him of charges in the death of her boyfriend, whose dismembered body was found in a Delaware landfill. After deliberating more than 13 hours over two days, the jury found Sifrit, 25, guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the slaying of insurance executive Martha Crutchley, 51, of Fairfax, Va. Jurors declined to return a finding of first-degree murder.
NEWS
By Jeff Barker and Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF | April 9, 2003
ROCKVILLE - Jurors began deliberating first-degree murder charges against former Navy SEAL Benjamin Sifrit yesterday after prosecutors derided his story of being asleep in a car while his wife killed two Ocean City tourists last year. After four hours, Judge Paul H. Weinstein sent the jury home for the night with instructions to resume deliberations today. In yesterday's closing arguments, prosecutors called Sifrit a "trained killer" with a "selective memory" about his alleged role in the slayings and dismemberment of Martha Gene Crutchley, 51, and her boyfriend, Joshua Ford, 32, both of Fairfax, Va., during the Memorial Day weekend.
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