Craig Price's desire to kill started when he was nine. During a bike race a teenager yelled, “Where’d ya get the bike - steal it?” Then his tormentor and two of his buddies got into an old beat-up red Mustang and took off after him. He heard the engine roar as the car pulled up beside him. The boys in the car screamed ethnic slurs: causing him to run into a curb and damaging his new Road Runner.
Craig never got over the hatred he had for those kids. They deserved to die. The anger built up and he believed he had no outlet. By the time he was thirteen the rage surged and he decided to murder Dick, a neighbor’s visitor. That guy had made him very angry. He tried to shrug it off but couldn’t. Many years later he would tell a reporter, “I felt out of my element. I couldn’t cope with it. The stress left me face-to-face with the strongest desire to murder.”
Dick was helping a friend move. About nine P.M. he arrived at her home and honked his horn at several kids playing in front of her driveway. They ignored him. He honked again. They slowly moved out of the way, glaring at him. “You can get run over playing in the street at night,” Dick yelled out the open window.
The boy was completely outraged. The jerk almost hit him and implied next time he would. Most of all, Craig couldn’t get that disdainful look on the guy’s face out of his mind. It was contemptuous. He had to kill him.
He claimed to be high on marijuana and had a desire to kill. Everything was thought out and he brought a baseball bat to bash in the heads of his two intended victims: the visitor and his neighbor - Becky. The other neighbor, Becky’s brother, worked the third shift and wouldn’t be home. If anybody else was there, he or she would have to die.
The driveway was empty. He had missed the chance to get even and thought about just thrashing the place or burning it down. He scampered down the driveway to a wooden fence about five feet high. Leaving his bat behind, he climbed over it, into Becky’s backyard.
When he got to the back porch, he noticed a light flickering inside. He crept across the wooden deck and peered through a window. Becky, with her head on a pillow and covered with a blanket, was sleeping on the floor in front of the TV.
He moved over to the door and turned the knob. It was unlocked. He entered without making a sound. Calmly and as quietly as possibly he made his way into the kitchen. After finding a ten inch carving knife, he went over to the sleeping mother of two. Lucky for the children they were staying with their father until Becky moved into their new house the next day.
He stared down at the twenty-seven year-old woman for some time before glancing around the unfurnished room. Only the carpet, several filled cardboard boxes, TV and stand were left to be moved to her new apartment. David Bowie appeared on the TV singing ‘Let’s Dance’. He decided it was time to kill. He stabbed Becky fifty-eight times.
* * * * *
Fifteen year-old Craig Price was alone Sept. 1st. His cronies went to a house party. He was sure one of them was a racist and that’s why he wasn’t invited. If he came across them later on that Friday night, he would beat them up. With any luck maybe some of them will show up the beach party he was walking to.
There were twenty or so, all white, gathered around a large campfire on the beach. Most were standing around drinking beer and a few were smoking pot. Price recognized Jimmy, a boy his age, and rushed over to him. “Hi clown, gotta extra brewski?”
Jimmy lifted his can of Narragansett. “Last one.”
Price could hear jokes being told nearby. One kid had asked what kind of wood doesn’t float and then said Natalie Wood. Price claimed years later what infuriate him enough to kill was, “How do you make a nigger nervous? Take him to an auction.” He was sure that was told for his detriment.
The jokester was a man – a very large man. Price wanted to throw him in the fire, but he figured he’d have to fight all twenty of them.
Jimmy noticed that Price was shook-up and tried to calm him down. “This salesman sold my dad fire insurance and then tried to sell him flood insurance. My dad said, ‘Flood insurance? How do I start a flood?’”
Price just glared at the large white man he wanted to kill.
Jimmy tried again. “Last night Johnny Carson said America is the land of opportunity where every boy can grow up and say, ‘Hey look, there goes a rich guy.’”
Price ignored him and listened to the large white man say, “Why do blacks have big dicks? Because they didn’t have toys to play with when they were kids.”
Price stormed off in a rage. By the time he reached a neighbor’s house he had a headache. To make matters worse he saw Joan Heaton peeking out her window – watching him in contempt and suspicion. He thought she was a typical white woman. Joan closed her blinds.
He marched home, just several houses away, in a rage.
* * * * *
Price smoked pot in his room, trying to reason with himself but the more he thought about that look on her face the angrier he got. Shortly before midnight he came to a solution. The only solution: kill Joan Heaton.
He told a reporter, later, “May God be my witness; just the thought of this solution started to ease my twisted and torn mind, and with such clarity I knew the act of killing Joan Heaton was the answer.”
He dressed in his ‘thieving’ outfit: black clothing and sneakers covered with black tape. As soon as left his house he felt an adrenaline rush. His headache went away. He felt excited. His heart beat faster and faster as he scampered through his neighbors’ yards and over a couple of stockade fences to the Heaton house, about a hundred yards from his house.
The back door was locked. More readily was an open window to a small dinning area. First he cut out the screen with his knife and then removed his sneakers. He glanced around the backyards of the nearby houses before crawling through the window. He landed on a table but his two hundre twenty plus pounds caused one of the legs to cave-in. The noise of the furniture and him hitting the floor was just loud enough to wake up the occupants.
Joan, a thirty-nine-year-old widow, opened her eyes. She heared the noise. Mainly concerned about the safety of her two daughters, she got out of bed to investigate. After turning on a small lamp by her bed, she focused on a photo of her late husband in his army uniform. She missed him so much. It’s been over six years since he killed himself but rarely does an hour go by without thinking about him. His picture always brought a smile followed by sadness.
Craig got off the floor and rushed towards the bedrooms. It was so dark he could barely see that the doors were shut. Suddenly a light shinned through the bottom of one of the doors. He grabbed the doorknob as the door to his right opened. A tiny figure stood in the doorway. Her small hand flipped the light switch.
Melissa, age seven, stood there, terrified. Price grabbed her and slammed a hand across her mouth. He carried her down the hallway.
The door flew open and Joan appeared. She saw Price with her baby and charged after him. Price tossed Melissa to the floor and slammed Joan against the wall, knocking the wind out of her. She barely got out, “Call nine one one,” as Price’s knife went into her chest. She went down.
Melissa ran for the telephone.
Price went after her. He caught her, ripped the phone from her hands and plunged his knife into her shoulder. Melissa screamed in agony as Craig grabbed a stool. He bashed her head again and again and again. After every powerful blow blood flew out, leaving splatter on him and the surrounding cabinets. He took a moment to watch her die and listen to her death rattle. While getting off her lifeless little body, he noticed a rack of knives on the counter. He grabbed one and hurried back into the hallway.
Ten year-old Jennifer was kneeling by her mother, crying, “Mommy, mommy, please wake up.”
Craig stabbed her repeatedly. Before long Jennifer’s arms fell limp to her side and her body fell on the floor. He stopped and listened for her death rattle too. It came; giving him a thrill he would remember and talk about to the police. He stabbed her bloody body over and over again before getting up.
While in the process of stabbing Joan more than fifty times, his knife went though a finger on his left hand. “Shit!” he cried out, shaking his hand.
He ran into the bathroom and found a Band-Aid. He returned to Joan and dropped the wrapper by her body. “Racist bitch,” he murmured. After covering his wound, he got down on a knee and cut out Joan’s eyes.
When he finished with Joan, he stomped into the kitchen and tossed the knife into the sink. He glanced down at Melissa. A large pool of blood had formed around her head.
He fetched another knife from the rack and knelt over Melissa, placing his knees just outside her thighs. He stabbed her until the blade went through her thin neck, stuck to the floor and broke off at the handle.
Before leaving the house he gathered some towels and attempted to clean up some of the blood around his victims’ bodies. In a short amount of time he found a trash bag for the bloody towels, his gloves and the knives. He left the house with the bag, found his sneakers and sprinted home.
A couple of days later the bodies were found by Joan’s mother. The media reported that the murders were committed by an apparent burglar living in their neighborhood. They assumed the victims caught the robber stealing inside their homes. Even with the obvious overkill, none suspected hatred as a possible motive. If so, nobody wrote about that likelihood.
* * * * *
Jimmy was strolling through the Rocky Point amusement park when they came across Craig Price. Jimmy noticed a gauze bandage wrapped around Price’s finger. He frowned and shook his head. “I read three more of your neighbors were sliced and diced. Still thieving?”
A friendly smile left Price’s face. In a rage he pushed Jimmy. “Give me the fin you owe me, clown.”
“For not bashing your ugly face in.”
Jimmy showed no fear and took a half step towards Price. “Careful, I’m not a little girl.”
A large shadow went over Price. Jimmy looked up and smiled. “Robo Cop meet King Kong.”
“We’ve met,” Detective Shortman said as he stepped in front of Price. He pointed. “What happened to your finger?”
“I got drunk a few nights ago and punched out a car window. I saw a wallet on the seat. Couldn’t resist.”
Shortman appeared confused. He tilted his head to the side as he looked down at Price. “You cut it vandalizing a car? That’s what you’re telling me?”
Price showed Shortman his boyish smile and looked a little embarrassed. “Yeah! Ya know, I was drunk. And the wallet turned out to be empty.”
Jimmy laughed out loud. “What a moron. Confess to a lesser crime - that should work.”
Price glared at Jimmy –wanting to kill him and thinking first change he gets he will.
Shortman grabbed Price’s arm. “Let’s go to the station. I have some photos to show you.”
Shortman led Price through a crowd.
Shortman took his prisoner out an exit facing the bay. They walked a little before stopping in front of take out window. Shortman purchased a bag of clam cakes and led Price across a paved road to a park bench that faced the water. After sitting down, Shortman shoved the bag in front of the detainee. Price took one without saying a word.
“Enjoy the gentle wind and the smell of the salt water, Craig,” said Shortman, admiring the view and taking in a breath of fresh air. “We can chat here or down the station with your parents present - your call.”
Shortman bit into the round greasy dough he held by his finger tips. As he chewed he examined a piece of quahog surrounded by white batter prior to putting the remaining half in his mouth. Then he offered Price another one.
Price took one and nodded before shoving the whole thing into his mouth. With a mouth full of food he mumbled, “Why are we here?”
“To discuss your finger - for starters. May I have a look?”
“Sure, I’ve got nothing to hide.” Price removed the white gauze and extending his arm up and out in front of the detective.
Shortman scrutinized the cut. “There are no abrasions around the wound. It’s a knife wound. Was it a burglary gone bad?”
"No, I didn’t do any killing. I wasn’t there!”
“Then tell me how you cut your finger.”
“Breaking into a car.”
Shortman put his hand on Price’s shoulder. “The car glass shatters into pellets. It couldn’t have pierced your finger. It’s impossible.” He offered Price another clam cake and took one himself. After he finished eating it he asked, “What kind of person murders children like that?”
“A crazy person or one high on drugs.”
“We turned over evidence to the FBI for analysis. Have you ever been inside Joan Heaton’s house?”
“How are you going to explain your blood, footprint and fingerprints when the results come back?”
“The obvious – the police are just trying to pin the crime on a black kid.”
“Come on, Craig. Think about it. You’ve been arrested for B & E, peeping into houses, vandalism, multiple assaults and all you ever got was probation. Just last month you assaulted your sister, your father and a police officer. Your father had to help the arresting officer get you into handcuffs. You spent a night in detention and got probation, again. I’ll show you a list of white kids who spent time in Sockanosset for much less.”
“If you’re gonna arrest me, do it. Otherwise, I wanna go home.”
“First let me treat you to a cup of clam chowder. It’s fantastic.”
“Okay, but no more questions.”
“Just one, Craig. Did you brag about murdering a neighbor who caught you thieving two years ago?”
Price was rattled. His so-called friends had ratted on him. So he played it cool and smiled at his interrogator. “I was joshing with ‘em. Ya know, we were doing drugs and telling stories - trying to out do each other. You must ‘member what it was like when you were 13 or 14.”
“Are you willing to take a lie detector test, Craig?”
“Sure, that’ll prove I’m not lying.”
* * * * *
Price thought, “The test seemed ridiculously easy to beat.” up to, “Do you know where the murder weapons are?” He thought, “Oh fuck! They’re in the shed.”
"No," he answered.
The machine detected indecision. He was lying.
The police obtained a warrant. His house and shed were searched. The bag was found in the shed. After seeing the murder weapons and bloody gloves inside, Price was put under arrest and handcuffed. His mother cried and his father screamed at the arresting police officers.
A few weeks prior to his sixteenth birthday, Price confessed to four murders. On September 21, 1989 Craig Price appeared before a Judge at the Kent County Courthouse. During the brief proceedings, Price was read the four murder and burglary charges against him. He pled guilty to all them. The Judge ordered that he be held in the training school for boys until his twenty-first birthday. The maximum sentence allowed by law in Rhode Island. Also he was ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment to prepare him for release as a free man with a clean record.
In handcuffs, Craig Price left the courthouse with a smile on his face. Some of his chums were outside shouting his name. He yelled to them, “Later - when I get out I'm going to smoke a bomber.''
* * * * *
While incarcerated Craig Price was charged with multiple crimes startingwith refusing a psychological evaluation that was ordered by the court and ending with stabbing a correctional officer’s finger with a handmade shank in his possession. His current release date is scheduled in May, 2020.
Price maintains he paid his debt to society and is being kept in jail due to racism.