Crump killer parole hearing Monday
by Daniel Gaddy
Aug 29, 2010 | 6092 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A headline from a 1982 Daily Mountain Eagle proclaims a murder suspect in the 1981 death of Claude Crump had been caught. (Photo by: Daniel Gaddy)
A headline from a 1982 Daily Mountain Eagle proclaims a murder suspect in the 1981 death of Claude Crump had been caught. (Photo by: Daniel Gaddy)
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A Marshall County man convicted of the 1981 murder of a Jasper car dealer waits in state prison for his upcoming parole hearing. As he waits, a family finishes up the latest stint of a decades-old campaign that seeks to assure one fact: a life sentence should be for life.

The grandchildren of Claude Crump have posted countless fliers, made infinite phone calls and written an untold number of e-mails. They have built a web site to garner public support, in the form of petition signatures and letters to the state parole board, to keep Steve "Red" McCullars in prison.

McCullar's parole hearing is scheduled for Monday in Montgomery.

Michael Crump, grandson of Claude Crump, said this hearing will be McCullars' fourth time in front of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Parole. McCullars was last denied parole in August of 2004. Crump said, for each hearing, the family must immerse themselves in the 29-year-old tragedy.

"It is reliving it," said Claude Crumps granddaughter, Glenda Black. "Each time I have to sit down and write something about it, I am forced to recreate in my mind what happened that day."

Black said she was raised by Claude Crump for much of her childhood. Black and her husband, Emmett, established the web site that details the history of the case and asks the community for support.

The family's online petition to keep McCullars in prison has received more than 500 signatures. Some of the signatures include comments like this one: "Do not cause this family any more pain."

Background taken from Daily Mountain Eagle reports in the 1980s:

News reports of Crump's death called the incident a suffocation slaying.

In April of 1981, two women knocked on the front door of Crump's home on Airport Circle. The women, Doris Long and Lora Culpepper, told Crump their car was broken down and they needed to use his phone. Crump let them in and shortly after Long and Culpepper then let McCullars, who was hiding outside, into the home. McCullars forced Crump into a back bedroom where Crump was bound by his hands, feet and mouth with duct tape. He was 73 years old.

As McCullars and the women ransacked the home, Crump suffocated under the tape. McCullars and the two women fled the scene. A year of investigations went by before an anonymous tip led police to the suspects. McCullars would later testify that the robbery was orchestrated by R. J. Bates, a Birmingham service station owner. Bates was under the impression that Crump had a safe with more than $100,000 inside. However, McCullars and the two women could not break into the safe and left with nothing.

McCullars and Bates both received a life sentence in 1983. Bates died in prison. Long and Culpepper were also convicted. However, Long was released in 1995 and Culpepper was released in 1992, according to Michael Crump.

After Crump's Death

Darenda Posey, granddaughter of Crump, said she and her mother found Crump's body after the robbery.

"It will stay with me always," she said.

According to court records, Bates cased the house on several occassions. Posey said she wonders how many times she entered her grandfather's home as she was being watched.

Crump's granddaughter, Mona Cooper-Crump, said the area was engulfed by curiosity throughout the entire ordeal.

"There was this overwhelming conversation throughout the community," she said. "It was just talked about and talked about."

Also, Cooper-Crump said some people in the area suspected it was a family member who committed the crime.

"I was taken in and fingerprinted because of that man (McCullars)," she said.

Efforts to reach McCullars at Limestone Correctional Facility were unsuccessful.

Glenda Black said she and her family members continue with the web site and the petition to honor her grandfather, a man who would take garden vegetables in lieu of a car note. She wishes, though, that their memories were not clouded by a parole hearing every five years.

"Something is wrong with our judicial system when an offender such as Steve McCullars can be a candidate for parole," she said in an e-mail. "Our family should not have to go through this again and again."

For more information or to sign the family's petition visit www.claudecrump.com.