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Cold case suspect kills self after warrant served

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A suspect in a 1974 cold case murder shot and killed himself after Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant at his apartment in San Jose Thursday morning.

Steve Crawford, the man who died, was the primary suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Arlis Perry at Stanford University’s Memorial Church in October 1974. Crawford was a security guard at the university when the murder happened.

Deputies served the warrant at 9:04 a.m. at Del Coronado Apartments at 5255 Camden Ave.  San Jose police said deputies made verbal contact with Crawford through a closed door.

Officials served the warrant after acting on DNA evidence from 43 years ago, Sheriff Laurie Smith said at a news conference. The DNA did not come from a rape kit, according to Smith.

Smith, who described the murder as a “callous” act, said:

“We finally have closure on this case.”

Deputies began making entry into Crawford’s home, but they saw him holding a handgun and they “immediately backed away,” according to police.

They heard a gunshot a short time later but no deputies fired their weapons, according to police.

Deputies entered the apartment and located Crawford with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.

Crawford was pronounced dead at the scene. Smith said deputies had recently “ramped up” contact with him, including interviews and interrogations.

She said the victim’s family heard about his death, and is appreciative of her office’s investigation. Detectives were still at the scene as of 6 p.m. The search was initially delayed due to the suicide, Smith said.

San Jose police and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office are conducting a joint investigation due to guidelines for officer-involved incidents, police said.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Sgt. John Barg or Detective Wayne Smith at 408-277-5283.

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