Savannah soldier charged with murder

Morris News Service
Sylvester Denmark Horton, Jr.

A soldier was charged Tuesday night as a suspect in the July 2 slaying of another soldier, according to Savannah-Chatham police and U.S. Army officials.

Sylvester Denmark Horton Jr., 21, was arrested and jailed Friday on a charge of financial transaction-card fraud - a felony - and was being held on more than $1,500 bond.

When metro police discovered their homicide suspect already was in jail, they added a charge of murder in the homicide of Army Pvt. Necco McCrawl, 21.

McCrawl's body was found by construction workers July 2 on a desolate dirt road more than half a mile northwest of the Talmadge Bridge. About three hours later, McCrawl's 1-year-old son was found toddling alone on the side of U.S. 80 in Garden City. The youngster's car seat was found less than a mile away. The boy was unharmed and was reunited with his mother after Garden City police had his picture broadcast during local TV news programs.

On Friday, McCrawl's Cadillac Deville was found on 51st Street between Montgomery and Barnard streets.

Efforts to reach McCrawl's family for comment have been unsuccessful, and investigators have remained tight-lipped on details about the case.

Metro police spokesman Gene Harley said that McCrawl and his attacker knew each other and that McCrawl's body had been along the dirt road for only a short time before it was discovered.

During a Wednesday arraignment in Chatham County Recorder's Court, Horton was denied bond on the murder charge by judge Claire Cornwell-Williams, said Lydia Sermons, a spokeswoman for the Chatham County District Attorney's Office.

Horton is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on July 22.

Horton's father - Sylvester Denmark Horton Sr., of Toledo, Ohio - said news that his son has been charged with murder was just trickling in to him Wednesday evening.

"This is a shock to me. Now he needs to vindicate himself and get a lawyer," the senior Horton said of his son. "Obviously he's got financial problems. It might have been self-defense - you never know."

Family members said Horton grew up in Topeka, Kan. Lt. John Ostenson of the Shawnee County (Kan.) Sheriff's Office said Horton's name did not come up on state and local criminal background searches.

In Chatham County, court records show that along with the two felony charges, Horton also was arrested June 5 on traffic offenses, including failure to obey traffic control devices, driving with a suspended or revoked license and no proof of insurance.

In August 2008, Horton faced two charges of deposit account fraud, court records show. The case remains open.

The senior Horton said his son was borrowing a friend's car when he was pulled over because his Ford Mustang was recently repossessed.

Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said Horton was stationed at the airfield in Savannah in March 2007 and, as of Wednesday night, retained his status as a soldier.

McCrawl was assigned to the airfield in May 2007, Larson said.

Savannah-Chatham police announced they would conduct a press conference this morning, where they plan to provide several new details about the case.

McCrawl's death was the 15th homicide reported to Savannah-Chatham police this year. So far, investigators have solved four of those cases.

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