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Cold case church murder suspect kills self as police serve warrant

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Authorities said that the suspect in a cold case murder at a Stanford church decades ago shot and killed himself Tuesday as deputies were in the process of serving a search warrant at his apartment, reports CBS San Francisco.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's office confirmed that 72-year-old Steve Crawford was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. No one else was in the apartment, police said.

Crawford was a former security guard at Memorial Church on the Stanford campus. He was wanted in the October 1974 murder of 19-year-old Arlis Perry, stabbed to death with an ice pick to the head after being sexually assaulted.

Steve Crawford as seen in a prior booking photo Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office via CBS San Francisco

"During the execution of the search warrant, Sheriff's deputies made verbal contact at a closed front door with an occupant in the apartment," said San Jose Police Sgt. Enrique Garcia in a prepared statement. "As deputies made entry, they observed an adult male with a handgun and the deputies immediately backed away.  A short time later a gunshot was heard. No deputies discharged their weapons."

"Crawford had been a person of interest since the beginning of the investigation," said Sheriff Laurie Smith. "Our detectives continued to piece together additional information to this tragic puzzle and we were able recently to link Crawford's DNA to the crime scene."

According to the station, Perry had gotten into a fight with her new husband and had come to the church at night to pray. Her body, nude from the waist down, was found near the altar of the church.

CBS San Francisco reports that two pieces of evidence were reportedly recovered from the scene — a DNA sample, which was found in the form of semen near the body, and a palm print that was found on one of the candles.

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