Rhode Island November 16, 2017
The Story Of The Serial Killer Who Terrorized This Small Rhode Island Town Is Truly Frightening
Rhode Island ranks in the top ten safest states in the nation, and usually its residents have nothing more to worry about than avoiding the many potholes in the road. But the nature of serial killers is that they pop up where you least expect them, and in the 1980s Rhode Island was terrorized by a truly evil murderer. Do you know this terrible story?
The second largest city in Rhode Island, Warwick is a hard-working place where families live for generations and people know their neighbors. But as residents of the city learned in the late 1980s, sometimes grave danger can lurk within the most seemingly innocent neighbors.
On a hot summer night in 1987, 27-year-old Rebecca Spencer was killed, stabbed 58 times. The perpetrator was a mystery. Two years later, tragedy struck once more in the city's Buttonwood neighborhood when 39-year-old Joan Heaton and her 8 and 10-year-old daughters were also brutally stabbed to death and found with broken off bits of knives stuck in their bones.
For two weeks, residents of Warwick bolted their doors and peered out windows, terrified that "The Warwick Slasher" was in their midst. To everyone's shock and dismay, a perceptive police officer saw a gash on a 15-year-old neighborhood boy's hand and put two and two together. This boy was the killer. Craig Price immediately confessed to killing both the Heatons and Rebecca Spencer (the latter when he was only 13). Officers who heard the confession were chilled by Price's lack of emotion and the way he recounted the sounds of knives going into bodies.
Psychologists who evaluated the boy agreed that he had no empathy and was irredeemable. Mystifyingly enough, Price came from a stable, loving family, and there was no clear reason that he would have become so violent. It was clear that he posed a great risk to the community, but the laws at the time meant that Price could not be tried as an adult, and would be let out of prison with a sealed record when he reached 21.
The policemen who witnessed the murder scenes knew this was an unacceptable outcome, and dedicated themselves to changing the laws. They were successful, but the new law could not be retroactively applied to Price, who has applied for parole many times over the years.
Luckily for Warwick, Price's violent behavior in prison has led to his sentence being extended numerous times over the years. Most recently he was due to be released in 2020, but just this spring he stabbed another inmate in his prison, taking away that possibility. Warwick remains safe, if sickened by the memories of this sociopathic killer.
Learn more about Price's violent behavior in prison in this short news video from youtube user WPRI. VIDEO
Fascinated by the Ocean State’s criminal history? Check out the Rhode Island restaurant that used to be a
mafia meeting place.