The knife rose and fell nine times in a savage attack, taking the life of the young girl who had been quietly asleep in her bed.  The assailant then disappeared into the night, leaving a family unaware of the evil that had just entered their lives. In the early morning of January 21, 1998, in a rural area of Escondido, 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe was found dead on the floor of her bedroom by her grandmother who awoke to the unanswered ringing of Stephanie’s alarm clock. Although Stephanie had been stabbed nine times in her bed, she still managed to crawl towards her bedroom door, but bled to death in the doorway before she could reach help. Unbelievably, this horrifying discovery was just the beginning of the Crowe family’s nightmare. Before the family could even bury their cherished daughter, Stephanie’s brother, Michael, who was 14-years-old at the time, was charged with killing her. Within weeks, two of Michael’s teenage friends would join Michael as defendants in murder.





The Case Against Michael, Aaron & Joshua

The Escondido police summoned to the Crowe’s home could not find any forced means of entry and surmised that the murder was an inside job, although testimony later would reveal it was the Crowe family’s habit to leave their laundry room door unlocked. This door was close to the driveway and the family used it as their main entrance. The police detectives also found it disturbing that Michael appeared to be strangely unaffected by his sister’s murder, and one detective would later testify that Michael played a hand-held video game, while the rest of the family openly displayed their grief.  Further suspicions arose when Michael, who had been home ill with the flu, told the police that he had gotten up around 4:30 in the morning with a headache and gone to the kitchen for Tylenol, yet did not see his sister’s body in the doorway of her room. The police believed he would have had to see his sister’s body as he passed by her room.

Michael and his younger sister Shannon, who was 10-years-old at the time, were interviewed at the police station, then separated from their parents and taken into protective custody at the Polinsky Children’s Center.  Michael, while away from his parents and without their knowledge or consent, was subjected to lengthy and intense police interrogations.  In the interrogation that took place a mere day after his sister’s murder, a detective from the Oceanside Police Department was brought into the case, as he operated a lie-detector machine called the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer.  Following the examination on Michael, the detective told him that there were deceptions in his answers, and Michael was faced with the brutal accusation that he killed his sister. This interrogation was videotaped and showed a young Michael very distraught and sobbing as he continually proclaimed that he did not kill Stephanie. The detectives shocked Michael by telling him that they had found blood in his room, insinuated that hair found in Stephanie’s hand was his, and stated that other incriminating evidence was sure to be found. The law does allow the police to lie about evidence in the course of interrogating crime suspects in the hope that a confession will be elicited. A devastated Michael was returned to the Polinsky Center, yet his ordeal was far from over.

The next day he was again taken to the police station and subjected to further relentless police questioning. Eventually, a broken Michael conceded that if the evidence pointed to him, he must be the killer, although he could not remember anything about the killing. When one detective suggested he write a letter of forgiveness to Stephanie, he wrote a letter which became part of the confession. Pushed further, Michael revealed that he had resented his popular sister, feeling he lived in her shadow, and concluded he killed her, although he could not recall any details of the murder. Michael was immediately arrested and taken to juvenile hall.  The police theorized that Michael’s jealousy of his sister and his obsession with violent video games, where he engaged in fantasy role-playing competitions and conquered villains through fierce methods, lead him to do the unthinkable. This theory was in line with a story Michael had written about a fictional character named Odinwrath who wanted to kill his sister.  The detectives had also found the chilling words, “Kill, Kill” written on Stephanie’s window seal and they questioned whether Michael had written this.

Although the police had Michael’s confession, the murder weapon had still not been found.  Enter Aaron Houser, who at one time had been one of Michael Crowe’s closest friends.  About a week after Stephanie was found stabbed to death, Aaron’s mother called the Escondido Police Department to inform them that a knife was missing from her son’s knife collection.  The police believed this knife, The Best Defense Knife, was used to kill Stephanie, and began a search for the knife.  Another teenage friend of Michaels, Joshua Treadway, was found to be in possession of the knife, although his story of how he came to have the knife hidden under his bed would change many times. Initially Joshua told the police that he had admired the knife and stolen it from Aaron’s collection.  Joshua was arrested on charges of petty theft and taken to the police station for questioning, which session became a shocking marathon of almost 11 hours.

Joshua was interrogated throughout the entire night and into the morning hours, causing him to be awake for over 24 hours.  An exhausted, weeping, and frightened Joshua insisted he did not have anything to do with Stephanie’s murder. Throughout the questioning, Joshua kept asking when he would be allowed to get some sleep, but instead of allowing Joshua to rest, the detective kept confronting him with the awful accusation that he was in possession of the murder weapon.  Joshua was confronted with the certainty that he would be the one to go down for murder if he covered for his friends.  To make the point even more vivid, the detective went as far as photographing Joshua with a sign that had “187” written on it, the Penal Code section for murder.  The detective bluntly told Joshua, “The evidence is going to screw you to the wall.”  Then once again the detective from the Oceanside Police Department was summoned to administer the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer examination.  In the early hours before dawn, Joshua took a series of exams, during which time he stuck to his story of taking the knife from Aaron.  Finally as night became morning, Joshua changed his story and told the detective that Aaron had given him the knife, told him that it was used to murder Stephanie, and to get rid of it. Satisfied with this answer, Joshua was finally allowed to go home and get some sleep.

Almost two weeks later, Joshua was again subjected to a marathon interrogation that lasted approximately 10 hours.  This time, Joshua stuck to the story that Aaron had given him the knife to dispose of, but kept insisting that he did not have anything to do with Stephanie’s murder. The videotaped interrogation is difficult to watch and shows a detective hell-bent on getting Joshua to confess to a conspiracy to murder Stephanie. After countless hours of repeated denials, Joshua worn down by the detective’s refusal to believe his assertions of innocence, finally told the detective what he wanted to hear.  Joshua then told a story of a conspiracy between himself, Aaron, and Michael to kill Stephanie, and provided a detailed account of how the murder was accomplished.  Based on this confession, Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser were arrested.  The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office obtained grand jury indictments against all three boys and the case moved quickly towards trial.

Prior to the trial, a court hearing was held to determine whether the statements police obtained from Michael and Joshua should be excluded. The judge excluded Michael’s confession as coerced. Joshua’s overnight session was also excluded because the detectives had denied Joshua sleep and food for hours. The majority of Joshua’s second interrogation was excluded because the detectives had not read him his Miranda rights until eight hours into the interrogation.  The judge allowed the final two hours of Joshua’s interrogation, where Joshua detailed the planning and murder, but the judge ruled that this confession could only be used against Joshua.  The judge further ruled Joshua would be tried first, followed by Michael and Aaron being tried together.

Stephanie’s Blood Found on the Clothing of Richard Tuite

Jury selection was just beginning for the Joshua Treadway trial, when the prosecution case was blown apart. Stephanie’s blood was found on the clothing worn by Richard Raymond Tuite, a transient who had a history of mental illness, drug addiction, violent outbursts, and a lengthy criminal record. Richard Tuite had been seen in the Crowe neighborhood acting erratic on the night of Stephanie’s murder, and had been knocking on doors and entering residences looking for a woman named Tracy.  Richard Tuite’s behavior had so alarmed neighbors that two people called 911, and one burly neighbor even grabbed an ax for protection after seeing Richard Tuite’s face pressed against his home window. A police officer responding to the 911 call drove around the area, but did not see the transient.  Close to 10:00 p.m., the officer pulled into the Crowe’s driveway, and saw the laundry room door closing.  Was it someone in the Crowe family closing this door or was it Richard Tuite on his way to kill Stephanie?

On the morning Stephanie’s body was discovered, a woman called 911 as Richard Tuite was following her as she walked towards her apartment.  A police officer located Richard Tuite and he was taken to the police station where the police interviewed him and confiscated his clothing, but eventually released him. It was not until the defense attorney appointed to represent Joshua Treadway requested a criminalist, who was a respected expert in DNA evidence, to test the clothing of Richard Tuite that drops of Stephanie’s blood were found on Richard Tuite’s red sweatshirt and undershirt. This finding came as a bombshell to the prosecution as Richard Tuite’s clothing had already been tested months before by the head criminalist of the Escondido Crime Laboratory and Stephanie’s blood was not found.  Faced with this new finding, the murder charges were dismissed against all three boys.

Lawsuit Against the Police Departments

With their lives shattered, the Crowe, Treadway, and Houser families, went on to file civil rights lawsuits against the Escondido and Oceanside Police Departments and the officers involved.  This legal battle went on for over a decade, with a judge at one point dismissing the case, followed by a successful appeal.  It was not until October of 2011, that a settlement was reached.  The Crowe family received $7.25 million and the Houser family received $4 million. (The Treadway family opted out during the protracted litigation).  In May of 2012, a judge declared Michael, Aaron, and Joshua factually innocent of killing Stephanie, wiping their records completely clean.

The Trials of Richard Raymond Tuite

The First Trial

In 2004, six years after Stephanie was murdered, Richard Tuite, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.  As if this case was not sensational enough, Richard Tuite escaped from custody at the beginning of his trial, which earned him an additional four years, making his total sentence 17 years.  However, in 2011, seven years after his conviction, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the manslaughter conviction, stating in the Court’s written opinion, “Given the lack of evidence tying Tuite to the crime, the problems with the DNA evidence, the jury’s deadlock and compromise verdict, and the weight and strategic position of McCrary’s testimony, this case is one of those ‘unusual’ circumstances in which we find ourselves ‘in virtual equipoise as to the harmlessness of the error.’”  Legalese aside, the Court found the errors affected the verdict, and therefore Richard Tuite was entitled to a new trial.

The Retrial: The Prosecution’s Closing Argument

In October of 2013, 15 years after Stephanie was murdered, Richard Tuite’s retrial began  in the San Diego courtroom of Judge Frederic Link and lasted six weeks.  In her closing argument, Deputy Attorney General Alana Butler argued that there were five pillars of truth which proved that Richard Tuite was guilty of killing Stephanie. Ms. Butler said the first pillar of truth was Richard Tuite’s proximity in the Crowe’s neighborhood the night of the murder. One neighbor opened her door to Richard Tuite, who was asking for Tracy.  Another person saw him jabbing at the air, while another woman heard him say, “You fucking bitch. You do that again, I’ll kill you, you fucking bitch.”  One family close to the Crowe’s home heard pounding on their door, and heard an aggressive voice say, “I want to see your daughter” and heard the man say “Richard.”  With their fear increasing, they called 911 at 9:28 p.m.

Ms. Butler stressed that at 9:30 p.m., Richard Tuite was last seen only 431 yards from the Crowe house, and was heading in the direction of their home.  In response to the 911 call, a police officer drove around the area looking for the transient. Around 10:00 p.m., the officer drove into the Crowe’s driveway and saw the laundry room door closing.  Ms. Butler stated that it was at this point that “proximity meets opportunity” as Richard Tuite entered through the unlocked laundry room door and killed Stephanie. The coroner estimated that Stephanie’s death was between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m.

Ms. Butler moved to the second pillar of truth, that of Richard Tuite being found with a Smith Brother’s cough drop in his pocket.  This exact brand of cough drops were on the Crowe’s family counter as both Michael and Shannon were ill.  These cough drops had a distinctive wrapper and this specific brand was not readily available as they were only sold at Sav-On in the Escondido area. The prosecutor asked why Tuite, a homeless man, would have the exact same cough drop in his pocket that was in the Crowe’s home if he had not taken it from their kitchen counter?

Ms. Butler then moved to the third pillar of truth, which she highlighted as the most convincing, that of Stephanie’s DNA, her actual blood, being found on Richard Tuite’s red sweatshirt and on the white shirt that he wore underneath. Ms. Butler asked the jury “WHY would Stephanie’s blood be on Richard Tuite’s clothing if he hadn’t killed Stephanie?”

Ms. Butler explained the fourth pillar of truth as Richard Tuite’s motive for the murder, his obsession with finding Tracy Nelson. Ms. Butler said that on the night of the murder, Richard Tuite was obsessed, angry, delusional, and irrational.  Tracy had been his only friend, a girl he used to party with, and the person who had the ability to calm him.  Although Tuite had lost contact with Tracy, he had found her two other times, but was spurned on both occasions, causing a rage to build inside of him. One time, he came to Tracy with roses, but she was with another guy, and Tuite was told to leave.  Another time he found Tracy and again she was with a guy, and Tuite was once again told to leave.  Ms. Butler reminded the jury that people had testified to the rage that Tuite exhibited the night of Stephanie’s murder. Ms. Butler then told the jury to remember the words of Tracy Nelson herself when she testified at the trial. When Tracy specifically asked Richard Tuite, “Did you do it?” the telephone went dead.  Ms. Butler argued that Tuite’s action by hanging up the telephone was an adoptive admission and showed his guilt.

Ms. Butler argued that the fifth pillar of truth was Tuite’s other acts which showed that he had a common plan to go into other people’s houses, to follow young girls, and to carry a knife.  Ms. Butler said that Tuite was aggressively looking for Tracy, and that his obsession with Tracy was frozen in time from when they were teenagers.  Ms. Butler said “He is a sick man who was obsessed by a girl who wanted nothing to do with him.” This obsession caused him to try to get into other people’s houses, to follow young girls, and to even call them Tracy.  Ms. Butler emphasized to the jury that Tuite’s behavior was so frightening to these young girls that they or a family member were forced to call 911.  Ms. Butler said that Tuite was also known to carry a knife.

In closing, Ms. Butler explained to the jury that the prosecution’s burden, that of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, was proof that leaves one with an abiding conviction that the charge was true.  She told the jury that the evidence, however, need not eliminate every possible doubt.

The Retrial: The Defense’s Closing Argument

Brad Patton, Richard Tuite’s attorney for both of his trials, argued Ms. Butler had not proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and stated the prosecution’s case was purely circumstantial. (He discounted the direct evidence of DNA, Stephanie’s blood, on Richard Tuite’s clothing, attributing the existence of the blood to contamination or crime scene transfer). Mr. Patton explained to the jury that under the circumstantial evidence rule, when two or more reasonable interpretations of the evidence exist, one pointing to guilt and the other pointing to innocence, the jury must adopt the one pointing to innocence. He told them simply, “Any tie goes to the defendant.”

Mr. Patton acknowledged Richard Tuite was in the Crowe’s neighborhood the night Stephanie was killed and that he knocked on doors looking for Tracy.  However, Mr. Patton stressed that Richard Tuite was not violent and that no one saw him with a weapon.  Mr. Patton then listed the prosecution witnesses who could not positively identify Richard Tuite as the man people described as wild and angry on the night of the murder.

Mr. Patton argued it was a reasonable interpretation that Richard Tuite did not break into the Crowe’s house. He said the prosecution’s theory was that Tuite entered the Crowe home around 9:52 p.m.  Mr. Patton said if this was true, then Stephanie’s mother, Cheryl Crowe, would have been awake when Tuite entered the house. Mr. Patton said that Mrs. Crowe  changed her story throughout the case, initially claiming she watched a television show in her bedroom from 10:00–11:00 p.m. and then watched some of the 11:00 news.  Later she claimed she was asleep in her bedroom and that Stephanie woke her up when she came to say goodnight.  Mr. Patton said the only reason Cheryl Crowe changed her story was because she did not want her son to have killed Stephanie.

Mr. Patton said the Crowe family house was locked and Richard Tuite would not have been able to get into the house.  Mr. Patton reminded the jury the police could not find any forced means of entry, and that Stephanie’s father, Stephen Crowe, had testified that the laundry room door was not only locked, but the deadbolt was engaged.  On the morning Stephanie was found, Stephanie’s father had struggled to exit through the laundry room door as he rushed to meet the paramedics.

Mr. Patton argued that whoever killed Stephanie had to have known the layout of the house, whereas Richard Tuite had never been in the Crowe’s home before, and would not have been able to find Stephanie’s room in the dark.  He said when the police officer drove into the Crowe’s driveway around 10:00 p.m., the officer saw that lights were on in the kitchen.  Mr Patton surmised that if Richard Tuite saw lights on in the house, he would not have entered the home.  Mr. Patton said that the Crowe’s dog, Toby, would have also barked, alerting the family to a stranger.

Mr. Patton declared there was no trace evidence Richard Tuite was ever in the Crowe’s house. The police did not find Richard Tuite’s fingerprints or his hair inside the house.  Mr. Patton told the jury, “You’ve seen the pictures. He’s a transient, scraggly dude with a long beard and long hair.”  Mr. Patton said there was no evidence connecting Richard Tuite to the house because he did not enter the house.

Mr. Patton then argued that there had to be more than one attacker.  Mr. Patton said that there were no screams and hypothesized that someone prevented Stephanie from screaming.  Mr. Patton said that the stab wounds on Stephanie revealed that she was spinning in her bed as she had wounds on both sides of her body.  He told the jury that scientists conducted experiments stabbing a comforter and conducted experiments using a mannequin, and concluded that the comforter had to be held tight to control Stephanie in order for Stephanie to have the concentrated wounds that she had.  Therefore, Mr. Patton reasoned that there had to be two people involved, one to do the stabbing and one to hold the comforter securely.

Mr. Patton moved on to Stephanie’s time of death. Patton stated that there was no way to know when Stephanie actually died, as a liver temperature was never taken when Stephanie was found. However, Mr. Patton stated the best way to determine the time of Stephanie’s death was to find out the last time Stephanie was seen alive.  He said that the last time Stephanie was seen alive was when Mrs. Crowe was awakened by Stephanie. Mr. Patton asked “Was it 11:15?” Mr. Patton said there was no way to really know when Stephanie died.

Next, Mr. Patton moved to the blood discovered on Richard Tuite’s clothes.  Mr. Patton said that the morning that Stephanie was found, a police officer observed Richard Tuite in a dumpster eating chicken.  At that time, Richard Tuite was cooperative and no weapon was found.  Mr. Patton stressed that later in the day, Richard Tuite was again located by a police officer and when he was told that this was a very serious matter, he still cooperated.  Mr. Patton said that Richard Tuite voluntarily went to the police station where his clothes were collected.  Richard Tuite’s clothes were later tested by a criminalist and no blood was found.  Mr. Patton told the jury that this criminalist even testified that there was no blood when they first looked at Richard Tuite’s clothing.

Eight months later, Richard Tuite’s clothing was again tested, and this time blood was suddenly discovered. Mr. Patton said that the blood found on the sleeve of Richard Tuite’s red sweatshirt was not consistent with spatter or cast off blood, which would have been present as Stephanie was stabbed repeatedly. Mr. Patton argued that the blood found on Richard Tuite’s clothing was there due to contamination because everything from the case was kept together in a storage locker.  Mr. Patton then said that the transfer of blood to Richard Tuite’s clothes could have also been accomplished through other means, as someone stepped in blood at the crime scene and a photographer placed a tripod on the bloody floor.  Mr. Patton emphasized that no other blood was found on Richard Tuite, which was not reasonable as there would have been more blood found if Tuite had the bloody knife with him. Mr. Patton reminded the jury that where there are two reasonable explanations of how that blood came to be on Tuite’s clothing, one pointing to guilt and one pointing to innocence, under the circumstantial evidence rule, the jury must adopt the one that points to innocence.

Mr. Patton then turned attention to the three boys Michael, Aaron and Joshua.  Mr. Patton described Michael Crowe as a person who always wore black, was antisocial, isolated himself in his room, ate in his room, and played Dungeons and Dragons and other violent video games.  Mr. Patton said it was Michael who wrote the story about Odinwrath, a character who wanted to kill his sister, and then Michael converted the story to reality.  Mr. Patton said Joshua Treadway told the detectives that Michael had anger against his sister and wanted to kill her.   Mr. Patton stated that there were three stains found in Michael’s room, and then argued that the stains were actually blood that came from Michael’s feet.  Mr. Patton said Michael told the intake officer and other inmates at juvenile hall, “I did it.”  Mr. Patton recited the words “Kill, Kill” which were found written on Stephanie’s windowsill, and asked, “Did Michael write this?

Turning to Joshua Treadway, Mr. Patton declared that Joshua lied about the knife and how he came to have it at his house. First, Joshua said he stole it from Aaron’s house.  Later Joshua changed his story and said that Aaron gave him the knife, told him that it was used to kill Stephanie, and to get rid of it.  When the detectives confronted him about his lies, Joshua said that the killing was planned two to three weeks beforehand and then gave details about the night. Joshua said he was the look out, that Michael kept Stephanie quiet, while Aaron “did business.” Mr. Patton told the jury that, “We know that Joshua was telling the truth, because it was a slap to his ego that he was not given a bigger role in the murder”.

In concluding his closing argument, Mr. Patton told the jury that they were not responsible for determining if the boys committed the crime, but said it did raise doubts as to whether Richard Tuite killed Stephanie.  Once again, Mr. Patton pounded home the circumstantial evidence rule, telling the jury for the final time that when two or more reasonable explanations exist, and one points to guilt and one points to innocence, they must choose the one that points to innocence.

The Retrial: The Prosecution’s Rebuttal

Ms. Butler began her rebuttal by stating that the defense case was built on a house of cards which crumbles. She then focused her argument on the three boys. She stated that Joshua Treadway’s confession was coerced.  She described Joshua as a 15-year-old boy who respected authority, had difficulty understanding the long term consequences, and was very trusting.  The duration of his two interrogations were approximately 11 hours and 9-10 hours, during which time the detectives threw “everything and the kitchen sink” at him. Ms. Butler said Joshua was faced with relentless accusations and the detectives kept attacking his denials.  Joshua told them the same version over and over again, until he became so exhausted that he just wanted to go home. The detectives used evidence ploys, inducements, maximization/minimization techniques, promises, and threats.  Ms. Butler said the message they gave Joshua was, “We will treat you nicely if you tell us what we want to hear.”  Ms. Butler emphasized that in Joshua’s confession, he did not provide any information about the murder that only the killer would know, and that his story was not corroborated by anyone. Ms. Butler said that Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser were good kids, with no motive to commit murder.

Ms. Butler defended Michael by stating the defense tried to create a motive for Michael by talking ordinary things and weaving them into something sinister. The defense told the jury that Michael was an antisocial person as he always stayed in his room, played video games, and wrote fantasy literature.  Ms. Butler said that Michael was a teenager and wanted privacy in his room, that video games were a billion dollar industry, and his fantasy literature was normal. Ms. Butler painted the picture of a teenage kid who simply wanted his privacy and who bickered with his sister, all normal activities.  Ms. Butler argued that Michael did not have a motive to kill Stephanie and did not kill Stephanie.

Ms. Butler attacked the police investigation, stating that it was a theory-drive investigation with a rush to judgment.  Ms. Butler said the police started out with a defensive posture because they messed up.  They had an officer in the Crowe driveway, and the killer was behind the door, yet the officer did not bother to get out of his car to investigate.  He just drove away.

Ms. Butler next attacked the idea that Aaron’s knife was the murder weapon, emphatically stating that The Best Defense Knife could not have been the murder weapon as one wound on Stephanie was a half inch deeper than the blade of the knife.  Ms. Butler then questioned why Aaron would have kept the knife in the first place if it was used in the murder.  She said, “Why wouldn’t Aaron have disposed of the knife? It just does not make any sense.”  Ms. Butler forcefully said The Best Defense Knife was not used because Michael, Joshua and Aaron did not kill Stephanie.  Ms. Butler quickly disregarded the defense’s theory of two attackers by saying that there was not any evidence that there were two attackers.

Finally, Ms. Butler addressed the defense’s contention that the blood found on Richard Tuite’s clothing was present because of contamination. She dismissed the defense’s theories as fantasy and said it was not reasonable.  Ms. Butler argued that all the blood stains were the result of wet blood, and that the stains were there from the beginning, but the police criminalist just missed it.  Ms. Butler said that the criminalist would not admit that he made a mistake as he had built his career on being an expert.

Ms. Butler concluded by telling the jury that in analyzing circumstantial evidence, they must accept only reasonable explanations and reject unreasonable explanations.  She said the defense’s theory of contamination was unreasonable. Stephanie’s blood was on Richard Tuite because he killed her.  Ms. Butler told the jury to remember the five pillars of truth as to why Richard Tuite killed Stephanie Crowe.

The Jury Verdict

The jury received the case in the late afternoon of Wednesday, December 4, 2013.  On Friday, December 6, 2013, the jury found Richard Raymond Tuite not guilty of voluntary manslaughter.  Two juries, nine years apart, with opposing verdicts.  We are left to consider whether Richard Tuite was wrongly convicted in 2004, spending over a decade of incarceration for a killing he did not commit, or whether Richard Tuite was not truly innocent, but just not guilty under the confines of the proof beyond a reasonable doubt standard.

Strong Words From The Families

Following the verdict, Stephanie’s mother, Cheryl Crowe, who now lives in Oregon, gave a telephone interview to NBC and did not hold back.  She said that she had no doubt that Richard Tuite killed her daughter and that although there may not be justice here on earth, there will be justice in heaven. Then she gave a chilling warning, “I’m sure they will regret their verdict once he kills somebody else.  It’s only a matter of time.  So lock your doors.  He’s already killed my daughter. It’s just a matter of time before he does it to someone else’s child.”

Richard Tuite’s family also spoke with the media. Tuite’s sister, who attended the trial faithfully, always maintained that her brother was not in the Crowe home on the night of Stephanie’s murder.  In describing her and Richard’s reaction when the not guilty verdict was read she said, “We locked eyes and smiled at each other.  He knew at that time that justice has prevailed and people believe in him.” Later she told reporters, “For Richard and I both, this has been a life-altering experience.  It’s brought our faith back in the justice system and in God.” 

Who Killed Stephanie Crowe?

This case began in the dark of night, with an innocent girl being viciously stabbed nine times before dying alone on her bedroom floor.  Fifteen years after Stephanie was murdered, haunting questions remain. If the laundry room door was left unlocked, could this terrible tragedy been avoided if the Crowe family had simply locked their door? If that door was locked as the defense contends and Richard Tuite did not kill Stephanie Crowe, then who did?

To See Photos of Stephanie Crowe, Richard Tuite, and Media Coverage of the Case, Please Go To The Following Links:


About Aleida K. Wahn, Esq.

Aleida Court TV

I am an attorney, award-winning true crime writer, and legal analyst of criminal cases. I cover criminal trials and write stories about compelling, gripping, and unforgettable cases that impact our world. I take you into the courtroom in high-profile murder trials, rape cases, crimes of passion, cases involving mental illness, deviant behavior, and more. I have a deep passion for true crime, criminal law, and all aspects of the criminal justice system. I have appeared as an expert on true crime shows and provided legal analysis on high-profile criminal trials on Court TV, the Law & Crime Trial Network, Fox 5 News, ABC 10 News, and KUSI News. I also create and host shows with the Del Mar Television Producers Group, addressing criminal justice and social issues in recent criminal trials.

I provided my insight and legal analysis on Court TV and the Law & Crime Trial Network of the high-profile trial of former NFL star Kellen Winslow Jr. It was a trial that captured the nation as the heralded ex-football star with fame, fortune, and a famous name stood accused of multiple rapes and other sex crimes involving five women. As the trial delved into shocking facts, complicated legal issues, and unexpected twists and turns, I was there for every minute. After the trial, I wrote a book on the case, going behind the headlines to share the extraordinary details of what happened inside the courtroom. Judging Winslow Jr.: From NFL Star to Serial Rapist? Inside the Shocking Rape Trial of Kellen Boswell Winslow II is now available on Amazon.

I am passionate about telling true crime stories, as these penetrating stories have the power to move us all, while highlighting societal issues which need to be addressed. I have personally seen the human devastation which is present in each trial and believe there is a lesson to be learned in every single case. It is through awareness and examining critical issues society can effect change and even make new laws. To learn more, please visit: