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Cold Case Spotlight

Mother Hopes for Answers in 2003 Murder of Joshua Wayne Crawford

“I wanted to bring him chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream—his favorites.”

Joshua Crawford Terry Horman

On Joshua Wayne Crawford’s 21st birthday, his mom Terry Horman just wanted to celebrate the occasion. She knew he was having a party with friends the night before, so she didn’t bother him. Once daylight hit on Josh’s birthday, though, Horman texted her son.

“But I didn’t hear from him,” Horman told Dateline. “Nothing. Nothing at all.”

Instead, she got every parent’s worst nightmare: the dreaded knock on the door from the police. “I knew at that time it was not good,” she said.

Fourteen years ago on July 2, 2003, Horman answered the door to hear the news of her son’s murder.

“They said he was found dead. I collapsed, and went into shock,” she told Dateline. “I don’t remember that much… only what my husband has told me.”

Friends reportedly found Crawford in his first-floor Frederick, Maryland apartment after he didn’t show up to work. Crawford didn’t open the door, so friends say they had to climb in through the window. His apartment had been ransacked, according to Horman, and video games, a guitar, jewelry and other personal items were gone. Furniture was allegedly flipped, and the room was in disarray.

Crawford, though, was in even worse shape. Friends say they found him badly beaten, with obvious blunt force trauma to his head, stab wounds to his chest. His wrists and ankles had been bound with duct tape.

Horman said Crawford’s friend Justin Nailor then called 911, reporting cardiac arrest.

“I never did understand that,” Horman told Dateline.

Authorities say Crawford was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy later ruled the cause of death to be asphyxiation and blunt force injuries.

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office at the time categorized the death as “suspicious in nature because of the manner in which the body was found."

Investigators said the crime is victim-specific. “No arrests, though, have ever been made,” Major Tim Clarke of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office told Dateline. “At various times, though, we have brought people in for extensive questioning.”

Despite those efforts, no suspects have ever been identified. Major Clarkes insists, though, that “this is very much an ongoing investigation.”

Horman has difficulty believing that.

“I swear to God, I’m dealing with crooked cops. I believe they know who killed my son,” she said. “My main frustration is that they won’t tell me anything.”

“We understand where Ms. Horman is at,” Major Clarke told Dateline. “But the less information we put out to the public, the better it is for the detectives, because it helps protect the investigation.”

In 2010, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office received a Maryland state grant that allowed them to reanalyze DNA evidence from the crime scene. With no arrests made, or suspects identified following those results, though, they failed to be significant.

“We are trying everything possible to solve this case and bring the appropriate people to justice,” Major Clarke said.

Court records show Crawford was familiar to local law enforcement, having been arrested in 2001 on charges of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

“My son sold drugs—I’m not going to sit here in any type of denial,” Horman admits. “But he was only 21 years old. He was a baby. He had a lot of growing up to do.”

Terry Horman

Horman, of course, remembers Joshua as he was growing up. Crawford was a Boy Scout, and also played baseball throughout his childhood. “He used to hit the balls and make the home runs,” Horman says. When they needed a home run, they always said, ‘Let’s put Josh Crawford in there.’”

“We were very close – he was my sentimental son,” Horman told Dateline. “Once a week we would go to Dairy Queen, and every year on my birthday he would buy me a gift. [Now], my worst times of year are Mother’s Day, his birthday and Christmastime,” Horman said.

This year, Crawford would be 38 years old. Even 14 years after his murder, Horman still holds an annual vigil for her son.

“[The Sheriff’s Office] encourages and embraces the light that her vigils bring to the case,” Major Clarke told Dateline. “Because when that occurs, we get more information, and hopefully people learn more about the case and that brings forth new leads.”

“I can’t think of anyone who didn’t like him,” Horman added. “Why? Why would they be so mean and cruel to my son? Why? I just want justice for my son. Everyone deserves at least that.”

“No one likes to have an open homicide. No one,” Major Clarke said. “[Crawford’s case] is personal to a lot of people on our team. We speak of it every day.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Frederick County Sheriff's Office Tips Line at 301-644-4131. Callers may remain anonymous.