Kansas Man Kills Estranged Wife, Her New Boyfriend, Then Stages Crime Scene to Make it Look Like Murder-Suicide

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Vanessa Crawford and Donald Eckert
Vanessa Crawford and Donald Eckert Twitter

An affidavit publicly released Tuesday details how a man shot his estranged wife and her new boyfriend to death in her home in Wichita, Kansas, because he was upset she was dating a new man and then staged the scene to make it look like the new boyfriend was the killer.

Vanessa Crawford and Donald J. Eckert were shot and killed by the former's husband, Charles Crawford, inside the home where Vanessa operated a daycare on July 25.

Eckert was Found with Gunshot Wound to the Head, Holding a Gun

Vanessa was lying face down on the floor and Eckert was on the couch in the living room, with a gunshot wound to the torso, while Eckert was on a couch in the living room with a gunshot wound to the right temple and holding a handgun, according to the affidavit.

Officers found four shell casings in the living room which were later determined to be fired from the gun Eckert was holding. The affidavit said the gun was purchased by Crawford's estranged husband Charles "Chuck" Crawford.

Detectives found a small amount of blood on Eckert's right elbow and smeared on the inside of his hands, which was likely transferred from someone else. The gun Eckert was holding was jammed, according to the affidavit. The scene appeared to be staged by Charles to make it look like a murder-suicide.

Vanessa was in the Middle of a Divorce with Her Husband Who was 'Upset' She was Dating

Vanessa's friend told detectives she had been at her home at about 11 p.m. the night before while running errands. Vanessa Eckert were wearing the same clothes from the last time she saw them, the affidavit said. She said Vanessa was going through a divorce of her husband and he was upset his soon-to-be ex-wife was already dating, the affidavit said.

She said Charles had recently called her and told her that he was "going to put a bullet in Donald's head," according to the affidavit. The friend also said Vanessa and Eckert seemed to be getting along fine when she saw them and did not know of any issues between the two of them in the past and if there were, Vanessa would have told her.

Charles Left His Phone at Trailer to Avoid Being Tracked via App?

Charles Crawford
Charles Crawford Twitter

License plate readers showed Charles pickup truck was in the area shortly before midnight on July 24, the affidavit said. After the bodies were found, Charles' daughter told detectives that she had an app called Life360 that could track her father's phone in real-time and show the last seven days of movement.

She told officers Charles' phone was located at his trailer in Lake Afton from 9:35 p.m. July 24 to 6 a.m. on July 25. Officers suspect he left his phone behind when he drove to his estranged wife's home.

Charles Later Confessed to Killing Vanessa and Eckert

While investigating the crime scene on July 25, deputies located Charles' vehicle nearby. As they approached the truck, officers located Charles nearby sitting against a fence with a gun in his hand, at times holding it against his head, the affidavit said.

He told the officer he was having problems with his wife and he went over to her home to talk the night before around 1 a.m. When he went inside he found his estranged wife and Eckert in the bedroom.

Charles then confessed to the investigating officer that he killed both Vanessa and Eckert. "He told the officer he had his gun with him and at one point he pulled Vanessa's hair and she grabbed his arm causing the gun to go off and shoot Vanessa. He said the boyfriend started to get up and he shot the boyfriend," the affidavit said.

Chuck said that after he shot Vanessa and her boyfriend he drove back to his trailer located at Lake Afton, went inside, and tried to kill himself. He said the gun he was using would not fire.

After two hours of negotiation, officers were able to get Crawford to drop the gun and he was taken into custody. Crawford is being held in the Sedgwick County Jail on a $2 million bond for capital murder.