Alexis Crawford’s roommate Jordyn Jones had been her best friend—even attending holidays with the Crawford family—but now Jones is accused of murdering Crawford with the help of her boyfriend as the case of the missing Atlanta college student takes a heartbreaking twist.
Jones and her boyfriend, Barron Brantley, are facing charges of malice murder after the Clark Atlanta University student’s body was found Friday afternoon in a park. She had been strangled to death, local station WXIA-TV reports.
"The case has come to one of the saddest conclusions possible and has been absolutely heartbreaking," Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said. "And to Alexis' family, our hearts go out to you. I am so truly sorry that we could not provide you with a better ending."
Crawford, 21, had been reported missing by her family on Nov. 1 in a case that riveted the nation; however, investigators now believe the college student may have already been dead by that time, according to WSB-TV.
Authorities have not yet announced a motive in the murder; however, just days before she disappeared Crawford had reported an alleged sexual assault to police. Jones’ boyfriend Brantley had been the suspect in the incident, which allegedly occurred Oct. 26 while the three were drinking together in an apartment Crawford and Jones shared together.
She told authorities she had blacked out and wasn’t sure what Brantley may have done, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Crawford underwent a medical exam conducted at a nearby hospital after the incident and had confided in friends that after the alleged assault she had been uncomfortable in her own room and had been sleeping on the couch in the living room of the apartment, according to a police report obtained by WSB-TV.
Her last communication with family members was on Oct. 30, when she texted her sister around 8:45 p.m. to ask what her plans were for the weekend.
Later that night, Crawford and Jones went together to a liquor store. Jones told investigators that although she and Crawford had not been speaking since the alleged assault, Crawford had asked Jones to take her to the store that night. Surveillance images captured what investigators believe was likely Crawford’s last moments alive.
Jones told investigators that when she woke up to go to class the next morning, Crawford was gone.
Crawford’s body was found in DeKalb County Friday afternoon.
A medical examiner ruled her cause of death as asphyxiation.
A family spokesman, the Rev. Markel Hutchins, said that Crawford and Jones had been best friends. Jones had even attended Easter and Thanksgiving celebrations with Crawford’s family.
“That makes that tragedy all the more difficult to understand and reconcile,” Hutchins said according to the local paper. “She spent time with the family, in the family home.”
Hutchins went on to say that the family had liked Jones and that they never had any reason to suspect she’d ever try to harm Crawford.
“One family member described them as two peas in a pod. … To go from that to where we are today, it’s unthinkable, unspeakable,” he said.
The women had reportedly been friends since their freshman year of college.
Brantley had previously been arrested in February on charges of theft, battery and cruelty to children, according to booking records obtained by the local paper.
He waived his first court appearance after being arrested and charged with murder on Friday. His next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 22.
Jones is expected to appear in court on Monday, WSB-TV reports.
Crawford’s funeral will be held on Saturday in Athens.
"The Crawford family is truly grateful and encouraged by the outpouring of love and concern they have received from across the country. Please keep them in your positive thoughts and prayers," Hutchins said.
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