If Ross Crawford did kill Cherylann “Jen” Dowell after years of reported harassment, assaults and attempted arson, how can we not question the judicial system as a whole?
After Dowell was found dead Friday, we began to dig into Crawford’s criminal history. What was easily seen and confirmed by Northern York County Regional’s chief, is that at least in 2010 there were three occasions in which Crawford was charged with crimes against Dowell and taken to prison, only to post bail and return to her home to do it again.
Court documents revealed Crawford was released from prison on May 21. He had gone back into jail for harassing Dowell again, a violation of his parole after being released from the 2010 cases. Officials say he was supposed to be on house arrest, yet it takes awhile for monitors to be set up.
Even still, would an ankle monitor have saved Dowell’s life? Sadly, I doubt it.
I’ve spent years working with victims of domestic violence and those who harm others. And I know, through training and in life, that if someone wants to commit a crime, there’s not much that can stop them.
Of course, most people reading the story of Dowell’s death asked how can the system fail this badly? Her own children whom we spoke to on Tuesday said they know the system failed their mother. They recalled her loving nature, and in the same breath seemed to struggle with anger about an ankle monitor that may or may not have ever made a difference. Her brother, who she recently reconnected with, told me he didn’t blame the police. Because time and time again, charges were filed. He blames the judicial system for letting the man charged with her murder out of jail and sent home without a monitor.
So the rest of this week will be spent on a follow up story trying to get others to help us figure out what can be done to fix the system? To patch whatever hole may have allowed for this to occur. Will we find an answer? I’m not sure I think there is one.
How do you keep victims of domestic violence safe when there’s a reported pattern of violence against them? Yes, there are shelters. There is relocation. But I admit, I’d think I was safe if the person who hurt me was on house arrest. I’d think it would be like out of a movie, where someone steps off the property and police cars are immediately on the scene. But that’s not the case, and how could it be when we know police and probation agencies face the same budget cuts everyone does.
There’s always more to the story, I know. And family members have led us to believe there is more to Dowell’s story as well.
So help us as we ask the questions I hope you’re asking as well.
Who do you think could help in a situation like Dowell’s? How do you “fix” the system if there is a way to fix it? Or what other resources could be used in these situations?