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Fayette County man charged in slaying of neighbor

Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Henry Clay Crawford, 56, is led in to District Judge Joseph M. George Jr.'s court on February 2, 2013 in Uniontown.

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Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 6:06 p.m.
 

Police escorted a North Union man on Saturday from a Pittsburgh hospital to the Fayette County Prison after he was charged with killing Lisa Marie Tupta, a neighbor who cared for his ill mother.

Henry Clay Crawford, 56, of 227 Christmas St., was arraigned before District Judge Joseph George on charges of homicide, burglary and aggravated assault.

He is accused of kicking in the door of Tupta's mobile home and then stabbing her. Police found the bleeding victim on a couch in her living room after a neighbor called about the break-in Monday.

Tupta, 49, died at Uniontown Hospital shortly before 7:30 p.m. She was the ex-wife of North Union Supervisor Robert Tupta.

George said Crawford was not eligible for bail and District Attorney Jack Heneks could potentially seek the death penalty against the suspect.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Feb. 13 before District Judge Wendy Dennis.

Crawford, who was dressed in an open-back hospital gown and blue hospital slippers, answered questions from the judge with single-word answers.

He was arraigned after being discharged from UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh for treatment of a puncture wound in his neck, three stab wounds in his stomach and cuts on his hands, according to police.

Police are investigating whether Crawford's injuries were self-inflicted or sustained during a struggle with the victim.

According to a criminal complaint filed by state police Trooper Tom Broadwater, Crawford allegedly stabbed Tupta in the abdomen, neck and right hand.

An autopsy found that Tupta bled to death from a lethal stab wound to the aorta in her abdomen.

Tupta had a protection from abuse court order against Crawford after two violent encounters with Crawford. In the application for the order, she said she had a very brief relationship with Crawford, who has a criminal record dating to 1978.

They met as neighbors at the Holiday Mobile Home Park, where Crawford lived with his mother, Violet Crawford, who breathes with the assistance of an oxygen machine. Tupta would assist Violet Crawford with paying bills, bring her meals and look after her.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or kandren@tribweb.com

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