A former Fairfax County engineer, dubbed "the vampire rapist" by the Florida media and under investigation in an eight-year-old Northern Virginia killing, has pleaded guilty to kidnaping and sexual assault charges in a case in which he allegedly drank his victim's blood.
Shortly after his guilty pleas, John B. Crutchley, 39, told a news conference in Titusville, Fla., that authorities cannot connect him to any other crimes. "There's no crimes they can link me to," he said, the Associated Press reported.
"There are two John Crutchleys," he said, adding he was not the one who committed the acts.
Crutchley, who worked for at least two high-tech companies in the Washington suburbs and holds a graduate degree from George Washington University, blamed pornography as the root of all evil and said he got a lot of his ideas from a magazine.
According to a taped statement played during a preliminary hearing in Florida last month, Crutchley said he repeatedly choked, handcuffed and drank the blood of a 19-year-old California woman in Brevard County, Fla., last Nov. 21 and 22. She kept "begging to be roughed up," he said in the tape.
Fairfax County authorities have said they are investigating Crutchley in the killing of Deborah Fitzjohn, 25, who was believed to have been at the engineer's trailer home near Fairfax City on Jan. 27, 1978, the night she disappeared.
"We're taking a good hard look at him in connection with the Fitzjohn killing," said Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. He said yesterday he will decide in the next few weeks whether to bring the case before the county grand jury.
"We've drawn no conclusions," the prosecutor said. "We do know he knew her. We do know he was in her company in the days before her disappearance. And we've had an investigator go to Florida in connection with the case."
When Crutchley was arrested in the Florida case in November 1985, investigators said they found the business card of the chief investigator in the Fitzjohn case, C.F. Pfeiff, among Crutchley's possessions. The Florida officials notified Fairfax officials, and they reopened their investigation of the Fitzjohn killing.
The skeletal remains of the young Fairfax County woman were found about nine months after she disappeared. Police had to call on the help of a forensic expert from the Smithsonian Institution to identify the bones -- an identification her grandparents have yet to fully accept.
"I don't think you ever forget it," said Milda Fitzjohn, 71, who with her husband Herman, 81, hired a private detective to investigate their granddaughter's disappearance. "You're always looking. And every little bit of information, you check it out."
Lately their attention has focused on Crutchley. He pleaded guilty Thursday in Brevard County Circuit Court to charges of kidnaping and three sexual assault charges, according to State Attorney Norm Wolfinger. In exchange for the pleas, eight felony charges, including a robbery charge for allegedly stealing the woman's blood, were dropped, the prosecutor said.
"We're satisfied," said Wolfinger. "We wanted him off the street." An investigation into several slayings in Brevard County, where Crutchley lived, will continue. "This is the first chapter."
Crutchley's attorney, Joe Mitchell, could not be reached for comment.
Crutchley, who Florida newspapers said received a master's degree in engineering from George Washington University in 1981 and worked for Harris Corp. in Northern Virginia, is being held at the county jail in Titusville.
He faces up to two life sentences and two 15-year sentences on the four charges to which he pleaded guilty, authorities said. A presentence report will be prepared in about 30 days.
Florida law enforcement officials said Crutchley used a syringe and tubes to draw blood from several places on the arm of the woman he assaulted. He drank it from a Mason jar before she escaped 22 hours later, they said.
Wolfinger said "a significant portion" of blood was taken from the 19-year-old woman, who was hospitalized after the assault. "In this case he took certain property -- her blood -- by force, so that's a robbery charge," said the prosecutor.
The case generated so much publicity in Florida that it was going to be tried outside Titusville before Crutchley entered his guilty pleas.
Jewelry, which was found among the needles, tubes and leather dog collars confiscated at Crutchley's Malibar, Fla., house, has been turned over to Fairfax authorities. Investigator Pfeiff recently drove to the Fitzjohns' home in Fauquier County to see if Milda Fitzjohn could identify it as jewelry her granddaughter was wearing when she disappeared. She couldn't.
"They've brought some jewelry out here, little necklaces and things," said Milda Fitzjohn, sitting in her living room filled with family pictures, many of Deborah. "I couldn't identify those. But who could identify a little gold necklace?"
Fitzjohn does remember, however, Deborah's gloves and hat lying on the seat of her blue Subaru station wagon the day she found it in the parking lot of Hunter's Lodge in Fairfax in January 1978. She remembers, too, what her granddaughter told her before she waved goodbye as she drove past the kitchen window: "Granny, I'm going to Fairfax, I'll be back."
Fairfax police said they believe that Deborah Fitzjohn visited Crutchley at his house trailer at Waple's Mobile Home Estates the night she disappeared.
The Fitzjohns hired a private detective, James Wilt, a former Fairfax police captain who runs Diversified Detection Services, several weeks after their granddaughter disappeared. "I sent him everywhere," she said.
He's been working on the case ever since and has been chasing leads as far away as California. He said he has interviewed innumerable people, including Crutchley, whose phone-answering machine played the "Twilight Zone" musical theme.
Wilt said Crutchley told him that Deborah had visited him on the night of her disappearance, but that he fell asleep while watching television. When he woke up she was gone, Crutchley told Wilt.
In a handwritten letter addressed to Deborah, postmarked Feb. 4, a week after her disappearance, Crutchley apologized for falling asleep and told her to call him when she returned, said Wilt. The single-page letter is filled with exclamation points and makes a reference to "that boy," who had been bothering her.
Milda Fitzjohn has talked to Crutchley, too. About three weeks after Deborah's disappearance, Fitzjohn said, some of the woman's fellow employes at a Texaco facility where she worked as a secretary suggested that Milda Fitzjohn meet a recent acquaintance of her granddaughter. "They said 'I think his name is Crutchley,' " Fitzjohn said.
Fitzjohn said Crutchley was polite, invited her into his trailer and told her that Deborah had stopped by that night.
Wilt, sitting behind a desk in his Annandale office, said, "I can tell you that Mrs. Fitzjohn is not totally convinced that the bones were her granddaughter's ," adding, "She's always indicated to me that she had that gnawing feeling that it may not be her."
"If you've just got bones, what do you know you've got?" said Fitzjohn. Fitzjohn said she and her husband, who also raised Deborah's sister and brother, paid the bills on her granddaughter's condominium unit in Centreville and watered the plants for about two years, just in case.
"A car goes by and you wonder, 'Gee, that looked like Dee -- everybody called her Dee' -- in there." Sometimes, Fitzjohn said, she'll see someone in a store who looks like Deborah, and she takes a closer look.
"She was his pride and joy," Fitzjohn said of her husband, who returned to his spot by the wood stove in the den. He can't talk about Deborah, she said.
As for the police reopening their investigation, Fitzjohn said the family will just wait and see. "I know now, these years gone by, well, Dee would have gotten in touch with us. 'Cause Dee was her granddaddy's breath."