Wanda Crawford had already turned in for the evening when tragedy struck her family a fatal blow. Just a few short blocks away from home, her daughter, 24-year-old Crystal Crawford, suffered a gunshot wound to her head at point blank range, and was found sitting bloodied in the driver’s seat of her own vehicle. Despite several hours of intensive surgery, Crystal was pronounced dead the next morning.
The subsequent investigation of her murder eventually fizzled due to a lack of substantial evidence, and lack of potential suspects and witnesses, authorities have confirmed. Adding insult to injury, Wanda says her thoughts are continually riddled with images from that ill-fated night.
“What a phone call,” sighed the mother of six, her voice trembling with disbelief. “You always tell your boys to be careful, but never would you think that something like this would happen to your daughter–never.”
In what felt like an eternity, she says, Crawford remembers finally reaching the hospital where her daughter was admitted shortly after the incident. Praying that God would intervene with a miracle, she frantically raced to the emergency room, only to see the severe mutilation of Crystal’s face, and the lifelessness in her dying body.
“I remember taking her hand, and telling her that everything would be OK; and that I loved her and God loves her,” said Crawford, choking back tears. “I remember thinking how horrible it was that someone could destroy my beautiful baby’s face, and that I could do nothing about it.”
Tuesday marked the two-year anniversary of Crystal ‘s murder in May 2009. According to reports, she was parked with friends around 11 p.m.. at 95th street and Eighth Avenue (Inglewood), when a trailing vehicle pulled along the driver’s side of her car. In what is believed to have been a case of mistaken identity, the passengers opposite Crystal began barking obscenities before one of them opened fire, slaying Crawford and also wounding one of her three companions.
Investigators have yet to identify the shooter or his/her accomplices, all of whom are suspected to be involved with a local gang. Nevertheless, a break in the case wouldn’t turn back the clock, Crawford says, nor would the sting of having lost a child to a random act of violence be easily reconciled.
“You don’t move on. What mother could?” she continued, adding that regular prayer, hours of therapy, support from friends and loved ones, and constant participation with various support groups have aided in her quest for peace of mind.
In addition to mourning the death of her daughter, Crawford also looks at the lost potential. After graduating with honors from Biola University, a nationally ranked, private evangelical Christian university in Southern California, Crystal had shifted her goal to spreading the gospel throughout underserved communities, and had already started on the path to making a difference as a preschool teacher, before her life was taken. Determined not to let her daughter’s dream be deferred, Crawford has vowed to pick up right where she left off.
“I want to start a fund (for grieving mothers) in memory of my daughter,” she said eagerly.
“Crystal was about love and encouraging people. I will not allow her death to be in vain.”
One step Crawford has taken is becoming a youth minister and counselor to a number of other bereaved mothers and fathers last year. She has spread this word of advice: “Trust in the Lord; lean not unto your own understanding, and meditate on his word day and night. Allow his Holy Spirit to comfort you, because with him you can conquer anything.”