Suspect in student’s ‘unthinkable’ death spent time with victim’s family

Alexis Crawford, 21, was a Clark Atlanta University student. Photo Courtesy Crawford Family
Alexis Crawford, 21, was a Clark Atlanta University student. Photo Courtesy Crawford Family

A murdered Clark Atlanta student considered one of her alleged 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. Jones and her boyfriend, Barron Brantley, both 21, have been charged with felony murder in the death of Crawford, 21. 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.”

Crawford was found Friday in Exchange Park in DeKalb County after one of the suspects led police to her body. Her family reported her missing Nov. 1, but investigators said it was likely she had already been killed; Hutchins said Crawford died on Halloween.

An autopsy conducted by the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office determined Crawford died from asphyxiation, or a lack of oxygen.

“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. Crawford, one of 10 children, has a younger brother who also attends Clark Atlanta. 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 after her body was reported found.

Though the investigation into Crawford’s death continues, a possible motive may be related to a sexual assault Crawford reported to police Oct. 27. 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.

“I don’t think any rational or right-thinking person would think those incidents are disconnected,” Hutchins said. “I think we have more questions than answers.”

Brantley’s arrest on Friday violated his bond condition for a previous February arrest on theft, battery and cruelty to children charges, booking records showed.

After the assault, Crawford and Jones weren’t on speaking terms, Jones told police. But Crawford asked her roommate to take her to a liquor store on Oct. 30, Jones said. Surveillance images captured the last photos of Crawford alive. The following morning, Jones said she left for class and Crawford wasn’t in the apartment.

Hutchins said he had “very strong feelings” about the response to Crawford’s allegations, but said that it was not “helpful or appropriate” to discuss them while the investigation is ongoing.

He said Crawford was studying criminal justice, and her family recalled her as bright, affectionate, funny and fun.

Crawford’s funeral will be held at noon Saturday at the Hill Chapel Baptist Church, 1692 W. Hancock Ave., Athens. The family asks that any cards or financial contributions be made directly to Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Home, the metro Atlanta-based funeral home handling arrangements.

Staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this story.