|“||I'm going to make history.||”|
Craig Chandler Price, a.k.a. "The Warwick Slasher", is an American serial killer, family annihilator, robber, and one-time stalker who gained notoriety for committing all of his murders in his early-to-mid teens.
As a child and adolescent, Price racked up a juvenile criminal record consisting of crimes like breaking and entering, robbery, stalking, drug use, and assault, on most occasions with his own family members. At some point in his life, he joined a gang of other juvenile delinquents and started to burglarize houses with them. Despite his criminal activities, Price was known in the area as a good-humored and vivacious boy.
Murders, Arrest, and Incarceration
Price claimed his first victim on July 27, 1987, at the age of thirteen. Late at night, he broke into the house of his neighbor, 27-year-old Rebecca Spencer, took a packing knife from her kitchen, and brutally stabbed her 58 times. The brutality of the murder shocked the entire neighborhood, but despite efforts to find Rebecca's killer, her case went cold. Two years later, while high on LSD, Price again broke into another house in his neighborhood, belonging to the Heaton family, with the sole intention of robbing it. While venturing inside, he encountered the mother Joan, causing him to beat and strangle her in a fit of panic. Her screams woke up her young daughters Jennifer and Melissa. Like last time, he took a knife from the kitchen and stabbed all three members of the family. He also bit Joan and one of the daughters and crushed Melissa's skull with a kitchen stool. In the process of killing the family, Price cut his hand. Later on, the FBI was called in to investigate the murders due to the similarities between the Heaton familicide and Rebecca's murder, and linked them to a serial killer. The investigators deduced that the killer was a local in the neighborhood given the close distance between the two crime scenes, and that the killer injured his hand while stabbing the Heatons.
On September 5, 1989, two police detectives interrogated Price and noticed that he had a cut on his hand, which Price tried to excuse as an unrelated injury he suffered while drunk. After failing a lie-detector test, a search warrant was requested and in his house, police found bloody knives and clothing. He was subsequently interrogated about the murders and he quickly confessed to the crimes without remorse, even mimicking the dying sounds of the girls he had killed. Because of his age, Price couldn't face trial or be imprisoned in accordance with Rhode Island law. As a result, he was sent to a juvenile correctional institution called the Rhode Island Training School. He was placed in the school's maximum-security wing, the Youth Correctional Center, where he was to be held for five years, ending on his twenty-first birthday. Such a fact enraged the victims' families and the citizens of Rhode Island. During his time there, Price refused to discuss about the murders and refused treatment, citing that it would result in continued institutionalization. He had mostly good behavior in the correctional center, spending his time completing his high-school equivalency test and taking satellite college courses. Price's good behavior was reportedly rewarded by the correctional center, which approved him to counsel other residents in the facility and perform minor security duties.
Price's special treatment at the correctional center sparked further outrage from the public, sparking a campaign to stop his release, headed by the assistant attorney general, the police captain who supervised the investigation into the Heaton murders, and Joan Heaton's mother and sister. Their efforts eventually led to the passage of a bill that gave the attorney general's office the power to commit a mentally ill person to a mental health institution if he or she posed a threat to society, as well as the attention of then-President Bill Clinton. On October 3, 1994, Price was sent to trial for simple assault and extortion after he threatened the life of a correctional center employee. During cross-examination by the prosecution, he burst into a fit of rage and claimed that everyone was lying to keep him locked up, causing the end of the trial. He was eventually sentenced to fifteen years. On February 1996, Craig was involved in a prison fight with another inmate, in which he bit a guard when the latter tried to break up the fight. Price was found guilty of assault and sentenced to one more year. Two years later, on October 1998, Price again assaulted an officer and repeated the same offense thrice on February 1999, October 2001, and July 2009. This caused him to be sentenced to several more years. On April 4, 2017, Price was accused of stabbing fellow inmate Joshua Davis at the Suwannee Correctional Institution in Live Oak, Florida, with a 5" homemade knife. On January 18, 2019, he was sentenced to 25 years for that crime.
All of Price's victims were his own neighbors. He would always break into their houses and stab them to death with their own kitchen knives. Price would stab them so deeply and so violently that the knives would eventually break. His victims' corpses would be left totally butchered and in massive pools of blood. His first victim, Rebecca Spencer, was stalked by him before her murder. Unlike the rest, his last known victim, Melissa Heaton, had her skull crushed.
- Unspecifed dates: Numerous unspecified breaking-and-enterings, robberies, stalkings, drug use, and even assaults
- July 27, 1987: Rebecca Spencer, 27 (stabbed 58 times; previously peeped and stalked for an unspecified amount of time)
- September 1, 1989: The Heaton family
- Joan Heaton, 39 (mother; bludgeoned, strangled, bitten, and stabbed 57 times)
- Jennifer Heaton, 10 (eldest daughter; stabbed 62 times; was also possibly bitten in the face)
- Melissa Heaton, 8 (youngest daughter; stabbed repeatedly and crushed her skull with a kitchen stool; was also possibly bitten in the face)
- February 1996:
- Unnamed inmate (assaulted)
- Unnamed prison guard (assaulted; bit his finger)
- October 1998: Unnamed prison guard (assaulted)
- February 1999: Unnamed prison guard (assaulted)
- October 2001: Unnamed prison guard (assaulted)
- July 29, 2009:
- Unnamed inmate (assaulted)
- Unnamed prison guard (attempted, but survived; was non-fatally shanked in the finger)
- April 4, 2017: Joshua Davis (attempted, stabbed with a 5" homemade knife)
On Criminal Minds
While Price was never directly mentioned or referenced on the show, he appears to have been an inspiration for the following unsubs:
- Season Six
- Jeremy Sayer ("Safe Haven") - Both are family annihilators who committed their killings when they were teenagers (specifically at the age of 13, though Price's murders continued until he was 15), killed their victims in their homes, and used the victims' own knives to stab them. Both were also considered to be released when they reached the age of adulthood despite the brutality of their murders.
- Season Nine
- Howard Clarke ("The Road Home") - While not the main unsub of this episode, Clark and Price's case are very similar - Both were juvenile killers who murdered a family while high on drugs they took prior, were given shortened sentences despite the brutality of their crimes, and got into fights while in prison.
- Season Eleven
- Matt Franks ("Pariahville") - Both were serial killers and stalkers who were at a young age when the committed their crimes, targeted neighbors, had an at least two-year dormancy period at some point in their crimes (Price killed one victim and then a family two years later, while Franks stalked one victim and then killed another two years later), and stabbed their victims to death.