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Richard Crafts Transferred To Garner



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Former Newtown resident Richard Crafts, 59, the perpetrator of the notorious and bizarre "wood chipper murder" in 1986, has returned to Newtown, but this time as an inmate at Garner Correctional Institution, the state's high security prison on Nunnawauk Road.

William Flower, a spokesman for the state Department of Correction, confirmed this week that Mr Crafts has been transferred to Garner from MacDougall Correctional Institution in Suffield.

State prison inmates are routinely transferred from one facility to another for various reasons.

Mr Crafts is housed in one of the "general prison population" cellblocks in Garner, Mr Flower said. Garner also has cellblocks for mental health inmates and for its "close custody" program in which prison gang leaders are kept under very high security.

Mr Crafts is serving a 50-year prison sentence for murdering his wife. Helle. His prison time started running on January 13, 1987, after he was charged with murder.

Police believe Mr Crafts murdered his wife in November 1986 and then disposed of her corpse along the banks of Lake Zoar after fragmenting it with a wood chipper.

Mrs Crafts, 39, a Pan Am flight attendant who lived at 5 Newfield Lane, was last seen alive on November 18, 1986. She wasn't reported missing until December 1.

More than a month later, state police arrested Mr Crafts, an Eastern Airlines pilot, at his home. He was held on $750,000 bond.

Major crime investigators combed the woods looking for evidence near Lake Zoar about one mile north of the Silver Bridge on River Road in Southbury. There, amid a pile of wood chips, they found a piece of a finger, a fingernail, hair strands, a tooth, a toenail, bone fragments, flesh, and letters addressed to Mrs Crafts. Divers aided in the investigation, locating a chain that was said to be part of the chain saw Mr Crafts used in the crime.

Mrs Crafts had been trying to serve her husband with divorce papers before she disappeared. Suspecting he was having an affair, she apparently told her attorney that if she disappeared not to assume it was an accident. Her car was later found parked at Kennedy International Airport.

Mr Crafts worked as an auxiliary police officer for the Newtown police and had been employed as a part-time policeman in Southbury at the time of his arrest.

It took two trials to convict Mr Crafts. The first, held at Danbury Superior Court, ended in a mistrial in 1987. The second trial was moved to New London where a guilty verdict was rendered in November 1989. A judge sentenced Mr Crafts to 50 years in prison. He was the first man ever convicted of murder in Connecticut without the discovery of the victim's corpse.

Investigators believed that Mr Crafts hit his wife over the head with a flashlight and may have then strangled her. He is believed to have stored her body overnight in a large freezer in his garage. Eventually, he took her body to a plot of land he owned off Currituck Road and cut her body into pieces, later to be put through the wood chipper, according to police.

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