The Elephant in the Room

By Ben Kuebrich

Recent photo of Paulette. Courtesy of Paulette Everett Norman.

Episode seven of the true-crime podcast Ransom: Position of Trust explores Paulette and Carl Everett’s grief, and investigates Paulette’s suspicions about Hilton Crawford’s wife, Connie.

In the aftermath of McKay Everett’s murder, his mother, Paulette, was devastated — and angry, too.

“I wanted to make somebody pay,” said Paulette. “I wanted to hurt somebody, I make no bones about that.”

Doctor Katherine Shear, a psychiatrist who studies grief, said there’s often a mix of emotions following the death of a loved one.

“We feel not only sadness,” said Dr. Shear, “Very often we feel guilt. We could have maybe even prevented the deaths or, you know, there’s a lot of what we call caregiver self-blame. And there’s often anger at the universe or anger at somebody.”

Paulette Everett tells Host Art Rascon about how she coped with McKay’s death and Hilton’s betrayal. Photo Credit Ben Kuebrich, KSL Podcasts.

In addition to her grief, Paulette was recovering from a stroke that left her temporarily paralyzed. She could barely talk, and it took all her effort to do everyday tasks, like showering.

Dr. Shear said that even without a stroke, those kind of tasks can be overwhelming for people who are grieving.

“It’s just a very, very intense emotional experience when someone close dies, and it can be hard to kind of even do ordinary daily life things. Some people have to put little sticky notes up saying, you know, brush your teeth, take a shower, eat breakfast, things like that.”

Shear said that bereavement can be particularly hard for the relatives of victims of violent crimes because they also want justice and closure.

“Finding the person who’s responsible, and then getting them convicted is often very, very important to a family member,” said Dr. Shear. “And that, of course, can take a very prolonged period of time. It often does take a long time so people don’t move through their grief, while they’re trying to cope with the homicide aspect.”

With Hilton sitting in jail, while investigators and prosecutors worked to put together a capital case, Paulette found herself replaying the week of the kidnapping over and over again, growing more and more angry, and growing suspicious that others were involved.

While Paulette felt like her world had been turned upside down, it seemed to her that Hilton’s wife Connie was moving forward as if nothing had happened.

Daytime photo of home with well-manicured lawn and sago palm
Photo taken in 1995 of Hilton and Connie Crawford’s home with one of the Sago Palms. Courtesy of Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.

“She had two sago palms in her front yard. And she took such good care of those things,” said Paulette. I mean, I like plants too. But I thought if my husband had just murdered a child I wouldn’t have sense enough to get out there and worry about two sago palms and cover them up in winter.”

And Paulette’s anger started bleeding off of Hilton onto those around him, especially his wife Connie.

“Connie’s involved, and I knew it from the get go. I knew it,” said Paulette. “And I started digging, like a crazy woman on that – just possessed, you know, because I just felt like, you know, don’t overlook anything.”

Connie Said She Didn’t Know Hilton’s Cell Phone Number

Paulette thought back to how Carl had called Connie on the night of the kidnapping, but she’d said she didn’t know how to get in contact with Hilton. Paulette wondered whether Connie was trying to cover for him.

Connie gave a deposition about this a year later for a civil trial, where she said that Hilton told her she didn’t need his cell phone number.

Excerpt of the deposition Connie Crawford gave in 1996 for a civil trial.

Perhaps Hilton had withheld his number from Connie because he wanted to hide his debt and go gambling, as his friend Sam Petro claimed.

“He would tell Connie something like, I’ve got business. I have to go to El Paso,” said Petro. “And then fly out to Vegas. He did that on a lot of occasions.”

But Connie’s claim that she didn’t know Hilton’s number was contradicted by Billy Allen’s testimony at Hilton’s trial.

11 Q. And what did you ask Connie Crawford?

12 [Allen]. I just told her Hilton was trying to call me. I

13 thought he was He was I didn’t know where he

14 was. I thought he was at home. And she said she had

15 a phone number where I could reach him.

16 Q. She had a phone number where you could reach him?

17 A. That’s what she said, yes. And she gave me a

18 phone number and I called that phone number, but I

19 didn’t get an answer.

Excerpt of Billy Allen/s testimony from trial transcript

Of course, Allen could have misremembered the details, or perhaps Hilton had given Connie his number the next morning when he was trying to reach Allen.

But Connie claiming not to know Hilton’s number was only one of the things Paulette found suspicious.

Connie Didn’t Identify Hilton’s Car the Night of the Kidnapping

On the night McKay was abducted, the FBI asked Connie if she knew anyone who drove a golden Chrysler with a crown dealership sticker on it, but Connie didn’t bring up the fact that Hilton drove one.

Montgomery County Sheriff's Report outlining interview between investigators and the Schaeffers and Connie Crawford
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department report outlining interview between investigators and the Schaeffers and Connie Crawford on the night of the kidnapping.

Again, Paulette wondered if Connie was covering for Hilton. Then again, Connie’s neighbors – The Schaeffers – were in the room at the same time – and they also didn’t bring up Hilton’s car even though they were familiar with it. Jon Schaeffer remarked about this at Hilton’s trial, saying that he and his wife later discussed how the suspect’s vehicle description matched Hilton’s car.

23 there was a description of the car that was given to

24 us, being a goldcolored type car more of the Intrepid

25 design of Chrysler make, and so I knew about the color


1 and shape of the type of car that it was.

2 Q. (By Mr. Aduddell) Was there something else,

3 another identifying feature to that car that was given

4 to you at that time?

5 A. There was a Crown Motor sticker or dealer sticker

6 that was on the back of that car.

7 Q. And based upon the conversation and the color and

8 type of car and the Crown sticker, did that jar your

9 memory as to who might have a car similar to that?

10 A. Yes. I remember remarking to my wife that Hilton

11 had a car like that.

It’s unclear why Connie and the Schaeffers didn’t mention Hilton’s car to law enforcement, but perhaps at 4 am the night of the kidnapping, it didn’t even cross their mind that Hilton could be involved. Hilton’s friend Sam Petro told us it took him time to come to grips with his friend being a suspected kidnapper and a murderer.

“You don’t want to believe you’ve been friends with a killer,” said Petro. “That’s not something that that you want penetrating your mind. You just don’t.”

Connie’s ‘Excited Utterance’ After Hilton’s Arrest

Paulette was also suspicious of Connie because unlike most of their friends, Connie didn’t visit them after McKay disappeared.

And after Hilton was arrested, when Paulette visited Connie at her sister Anne Marie Mazzu’s home, she says that Connie ran down the driveway clutching a pillow screaming that McKay was dead. Paulette thinks that what Connie said would legally be considered an ‘excited utterance’ – which is a statement made in response to a shocking event. In the eyes of the law, excited utterances are considered trustworthy, less likely to be lies, because someone is reacting without thinking.

And law enforcement had told Paulette that they were proceeding on the assumption that McKay was alive, so Paulette wondered if Connie knew something that law enforcement didn’t.

In a statement given to the FBI, Connie’s sister Anne Marie Mazzu confirmed that Connie had indeed screamed that McKay was dead, but Mazzu said that Connie had no inside knowledge of the crime. Instead, Mazzu said, Connie was assuming that McKay was dead because the FBI had told her they’d found blood inside Hilton’s trunk and that they’d found Hilton’s gun in a storage building.

Excerpt of voluntary witness statement by Connie Crawford’s sister Anne Marie Mazzu

And Mazzu said that Connie had been wanting to contact the Everett’s but was advised against it.

Others Also Suspected Connie

It wasn’t just Paulette that found Connie suspicious. Carl and other members of the community became convinced that Connie was somehow involved, or at least knew more about the crime than she was letting on.

Mike Addudell, who was the assistant District Attorney for Montgomery County, Texas at the time, said investigators were interested in Connie as well.

“We investigated Mrs. Crawford extensively,” said Aduddel. “We just didn’t have enough evidence, probable cause to indict her. And let me tell you, if there had been just a little bit more evidence I would have indicted her. But didn’t have it. So we didn’t do it.”

Connie spoke publically about the crime for the first time in the podcast.

She said that the entire experience was traumatic for her. She was harassed, and someone even shot a bullet through her window while she was home.

“My sister wanted me to leave. And I said, No, I didn’t do anything. I’m gonna stay right here,” said Connie. “They put horrible signs up in my yard. I almost had a nervous breakdown. I can’t tell you how many hospitals I was in.”

To hear more about Paulette’s suspicions about Connie and to hear our interview with Connie about what she experienced after Hilton’s arrest, listen to Ransom Episode 7: The Elephant in the Room:


Ransom: Position of Trust is a nine-part true crime podcast from KSL Podcasts.
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