Arlis Perry was brutally murdered in a church in 1974 at Stanford University, and investigators believed her killing may have been linked to the Son of Sam case, the occult or a Satanic ritual. However, the Son of Sam theory was ruled out through investigation, and the prime suspect was identified as Stephen Blake Crawford.
Perry was killed in one of three murders around Stanford University in 1973 and 1974. The murders became known as the Stanford murders. Crawford was linked to the case through DNA evidence, Smith said. At the time of his death, Crawford was also considered as a possible suspect in the murders of Leslie Marie Perlov and Janet Ann Taylor, The Mercury News reported. However, investigators later filed charges against John Arthur Getreu in those deaths, following DNA matches.
ABC 20/20 is digging into the Stanford murders in a new episode that airs at 9 p.m. Eastern time Friday, September 17, 2021.
Here’s what you need to know:
Son of Sam Killer David Berkowitz Claimed to Know Perry’s Killer, But Investigators Ruled Out a Link
The murder of Perry was discussed in the Netflix docuseries, “The Sons of Sam: Descent Into Darkness,” because investigators believed her murder may have been tied to the occult or Satanic rituals. The Son of Sam killer, David Berkowitz, had claimed to know about Perry’s murder, but investigators ruled out any real connection, they said on the series.
The speculation over the link began when Lt. Terry Gardner, a deputy sheriff in Ward County, North Dakota, involved with the son of Sam case, received a package from Berkowitz, according to the docuseries. It included a book, “The Anatomy of Witchcraft,” with a note inscribed in the margins. It said, “Arlis Perry, hunted, stalked and slain. Followed to California” and “Stanford Univ,” according to the series.
Ken Kahn, a retired detective with Santa Clara Police Department, said on the series that he received a letter from Berkowitz in 1981, which said he may have information about Perry’s murder. Kahn and other investigators went to New York to interview Berkowitz, he said on the series, but Berkowitz did not reveal who the supposed killer was.
Through the interview, Kahn said they determined Berkowitz was “just kind of jerking us around.”
Deputies Found a Book, “The Ultimate Evil,” in Crawford’s Apartment, Which Discusses the Son of Sam Case
After Crawford’s death, investigators found the torn-off cover of the book, “The Ultimate Evil,” Sheriff Laurie Smith said during a press conference. The book is about the Son of Sam serial killer, and mentioned the murder of Perry, according to The Mercury News.
Crawford was employed as a security guard at the church where Perry was brutally murdered, The Mercury News reported. She was a newlywed married to Bruce Perry, a pre-med student at Stanford. After an argument with her husband, she told him she was going to the church to pray at about 11:30 p.m. on the night of her murder. When she did not return home by 3:30 a.m., Bruce Perry called police. Responding officers found the doors of the church locked. Smith said in her press conference Crawford was in charge of locking the doors, and told police he found Perry’s body.
The Mercury News reported that an ice pick had been driven into the back of Perry’s skull, and said that “her body had been violated with church candles.”
Smith said the murder was “a terrible, terrible crime,” and sent her sympathies to the family of Perry. She said she started with the sheriff’s office soon after Perry’s death when she was not much older than Perry, and said the case was “personal” to her. She said Crawford had been a person of interest for many years, but investigators were not able to gather enough evidence to charge him until 2018.
“We look at this as closure and we believe that we had solid evidence to arrest and even convict Stephen Crawford for the murder of Arlis Perry,” Smith said.