ATLANTA - It's the story that rocked metro Atlanta, one that made headlines across the nation: the heartbreaking ending to a missing persons case involving a Clark Atlanta University student.
The body of Alexis Janae Crawford, 21, was found Friday, Nov. 8, at a park in DeKalb County Friday. She died of asphyxiation, authorities said.
"The case has come to one of the saddest conclusions possible and has been absolutely heartbreaking."— Michael Seiden (@SeidenWSBTV) November 8, 2019
-Chief Erika Shields on the murder of Alexis Crawford, 21.
Her family reported her missing Nov. 1, but investigators said it was likely she had already been killed.
Now, two suspects have been charged with the murder of Crawford.
Jordyn Jones, Crawford's roommate, and Jones' boyfriend Barron Brantley are in custody. Both are being held without bond at the Fulton County Jail, records show.
Jones and Brantley are charged with felony murder. Jones waived her first appearance Monday.
Were there signs of trouble?
Investigators have not yet released a motive. Three days before she was last seen alive, however, Crawford reported being the victim of a sexual assault, according to police.
Brantley was the suspect in the Oct. 26 incident, which allegedly happened at the apartment Crawford shared with Jones while the three were consuming alcohol, the report states.
Crawford told police she blacked out and wasn't sure of everything that Brantley allegedly did.
She underwent a medical exam at Grady Memorial Hospital following the incident. After the reported assault, Crawford told friends she was uncomfortable in her own room, so she had been sleeping on the couch in the living room, according to a police report.
On Oct. 30, Crawford spoke with her family for the last time.
Alexandria Crawford, Crawford's sister, told police they last texted about 8:45 p.m. Oct. 30.
"What are you doing for the weekend?" Alexis Crawford had texted.
"Nothing," Alexandria Crawford replied.
Alexis Crawford didn't respond to other text messages that night, her family told police.
The last public sighting
Later that night, Crawford and her roommate went to a liquor store. Jones told police she and Crawford hadn't been speaking since the alleged sexual assault, but Crawford had asked Jones to take her to the store. A surveillance camera at D&M Package on Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard captured what is believed to be the last photo of Crawford, according to Atlanta police.
The following morning, Jones said she left for class and Crawford wasn't in the apartment.
On Nov. 1, Crawford's family reported her missing, and Atlanta police began an investigation. In the days that followed, Crawford's family had pleaded for her safe return.
"Baby, I love you, baby," her father said through tears during a press conference Monday at Atlanta police headquarters. "Just come home, baby. Just come home."
(The following details may be disturbing for some.)
Within hours of their late-night run for alcohol, Crawford and Jones, got into a physical fight inside their off-campus apartment, court documents state. Brantley later got involved in the fight, documents say.
"As a result of the physical altercation, Barron Brantley choked the victim until she was deceased," an Atlanta Police Department report says. "Afterwards, Jones and Brantley placed Alexis Crawford in a plastic bin and transported her body to Exchange Park in Decatur, GA, where they placed her body in the woods."
After Crawford was reported missing, Jones told police she didn't know her roommate's whereabouts. But on Friday, Nov. 8, following a week-long search for Crawford, Brantley admitted to investigators he had choked and killed her, according to court documents. Crawford's body was later found.
Crawford considered one of her suspected killers as her best friend, a family spokesman said Sunday, and had invited the woman to spend holidays with her family.
Alexis Crawford's family hosted Jordyn Jones for both Easter and Thanksgiving, said the Rev. Markel Hutchins during an interview Sunday on behalf of the victim's family. Crawford and Jones were roommates in an apartment near the Clark Atlanta campus.
"That makes that tragedy all the more difficult to understand and reconcile," Hutchins said. "She spent time with the family, in the family home."
"They knew Jordyn, they liked Jordyn. There was never a reason to suspect that Jordyn would do anything wrong or ill to Alexis," Hutchins said. "One family member described them as two peas in a pod. … To go from that to where we are today, it's unthinkable, unspeakable."
The women had been friends since their freshman year of college.
On Sunday, hundreds of students gathered to light candles, wiped away tears and honored the memory of the Clark Atlanta student.
"The mood has been very hard. Things we can't find answers to," student Levon Campbell told Washington about Crawford's death.
Channel 2's Tyisha Fernandes went Monday to Clark Atlanta University, where students were still coming to terms of the murder. They said there's an uncomfortable feeling on campus right now and students don't really want to talk about the murder.
"I know a couple people who knew her," one student told Fernandes. "Her brother was in my class, but no one is really talking about it – unless they're talking to an adult."
Some students said they will never be the same.
"I don't feel safe, so I don't want to be out around campus anymore, and it also makes you think about who your friends are," one student said.
That student said her parents and other relatives are really worried about her safety after hearing the details of this story. And some students said they will be more careful when it comes to who they hang out with.
In a letter to the Clark Atlanta community, university President George French called Crawford's death "the worst possible news" and an isolated, off-campus incident.
"Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with her family and with everyone who knew and loved Alexis," French said in the letter, posted on social media.
Crawford's funeral will be held Saturday, Nov. 16 at Noon at the Hill Chapel Baptist Church, 1692 W. Hancock Avenue in Athens.
The family asks that any cards or financial contributions be made directly to Gregory B. Levett and Sons Funeral home, which is handling the arrangements.
Crawford came from a close-knit family, where she was one of 10 children. She was studying criminal justice, and her family recalled her as bright, affectionate, funny and fun.
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