HARRODSBURG, Ky. – A Champaign police officer pleaded innocent Tuesday to charges accusing him of planning to murder a woman and her family.
Kevin Paul Crum, 31, who listed an address in the 1900 block of Lynwood Drive, Champaign, was arraigned in district court on six counts of attempted murder and four counts of carrying deadly weapons. He is also charged with criminal trespassing and improper registration for possessing a stolen license plate.
When asked by a judge if he understood the charges, Crum, who appeared dejected, said he did, according to Rosalind Turner, a reporter with the Harrodsburg Herald weekly newspaper. Harrodsburg is the county seat of Mercer County and has a population of about 10,000 people.
As a police officer, Crum would understand the charges. Those who knew him in the rural communities of Kentucky, where he worked in recent years, don't understand how Crum could be involved in anything like what he's accused of.
"Anybody I've talked to about him just can't believe this has happened," said Detective Sgt. Garry Bradshaw of the Harrodsburg Police Department.
Crum was arrested by Harrodsburg police early Saturday after a security guard at the Corning Glass plant there noticed a man who appeared to be putting on a bulletproof vest and taking a gun out of a car, Bradshaw said in a phone interview Tuesday.
"He probably saved some people's lives," Bradshaw said of the security guard's quick call to police.
Harrodsburg officers found Crum and a car that had lost or stolen license plates from Texas, according to Bradshaw.
"He did, in fact, have on a bulletproof vest," Bradshaw said.
The district judge in Mercer County set Crum's bond at $496,000 and required Crum to post the full amount to be released. The judge also set a preliminary hearing for Sept. 11, but the case is expected to go to a grand jury.
When confronted by Harrodsburg police, Crum identified himself and was asked to explain himself, according to Bradshaw.
Further investigation showed that Crum planned to murder a woman and some of her family who live near the Corning plant, Bradshaw said. Crum gave Harrodsburg police the name of a woman he intended to kill. The names of the victims are not being released, but officers have spoken to her, he said.
She confirmed that she had sought child support from Crum and claims that Crum is the father of her child, Bradshaw said. He does not believe that she has filed a paternity suit, though. Police seized the vehicle Crum was driving, along with a knife, a .40-caliber Glock pistol, a .38-caliber pistol and an Egyptian-made 9 mm pistol, according to Bradshaw. Bradshaw said he had known Crum from previous police work, but not socially.
"He was very cooperative when I was there," Bradshaw said.
In an interview with the Anderson County News in Lawrenceburg, Crum said that he was leaving Kentucky for a chance to work as a police officer in his hometown.
"That's the main reason," Crum was quoted in the June 11 story as saying. "My wife and I are both from that area. With my five years in Kentucky, I'll be making about $11,000 more as an entry-level officer."
Crum told the News reporter that he would not miss small-town politics and uncooperative parents, but enjoyed his tenure in Lawrenceburg, particularly the opportunity to work on child abuse investigations, which he called his "real passion."
Crum started work as a probationary police officer in Champaign on June 23 and was assigned to ride with Corbitt Griffith, a veteran Champaign officer, as his field training officer.
"As a person, he's pretty quiet, pretty reserved," Griffith said Tuesday. "He just seemed like a regular guy."
Griffith said that he learned during the few weeks he worked with Crum that he had been from Champaign and had gone to the University of Illinois to study music.
"His first full-time job after graduation was as a soloist for one of the local churches," Griffith said.
Before returning to Champaign this summer, Crum had worked with the Lawrenceburg, Ky., police from 1999 to June this year. He had been assigned as a school resource officer in Anderson County schools, according to Tommy Burris, a retired Kentucky state trooper who had his first day Tuesday as Lawrenceburg's police chief.
"The personnel that had been here when (Crum) was here, everyone that knew him, was surprised," Burris said. "People in the community are saying the same thing."
Sonny Fentress, superintendent of Anderson County, Ky., schools, said staff and students who knew Crum were sorry to see him leave. The county has a high school with about 3,800 students and a middle school of 900 students. Crum spent most of his time as school resource officer at those schools, but also worked in the elementary schools, Fentress said.
"He had a good relationship with the kids," Fentress said. "Kevin did a great job, a model person. To say I'm shocked is a very high understatement."
The superintendent said he personally knew Crum, who sometimes went to school board meetings.
"He had a very professional temperament," Fentress said.
Fentress said he never heard Crum sing, but knew that he sang in several local productions and was very talented.
Before being hired in Lawrenceburg, Crum got his police training with the Lexington Police Department Bureau of Training. He was hired there Jan. 25, 1998, and was assigned to the training bureau as a police recruit, according to Lt. David Boggs. Lexington, Ky., has a population of 262,000 and 491 sworn police officers.
Crum left the department on Jan. 7, 1999, before completing his probationary period there, Boggs said.
You can reach Steve Bauer at (217) 351-5318 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.