COLCORD, Okla. — Bridget January looked into the hate-filled face of her niece’s boyfriend as he aimed a semiautomatic handgun at her and fired two rounds into her body changing her life forever.
January was in the middle of a 911 call to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office trying to get help for her niece, Ashlee Page, 29, who was beaten by an abusive boyfriend.
Page, a young mother of three from rural Colcord, had bruises all over her body when she sought refuge with January on March 6. The aunt and niece were close – they even shared the same birthday.
Delaware County Sheriff James Beck said Willis Crawford, Page’s boyfriend fatally shot Page and wounded January before turning the gun on himself, taking his own life during a pursuit with Mayes County Sheriff’s deputies.
“Of course, I was going to help her and my great nephews,” January said from her hospital bed at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
“He shot her and me because he was pure evil and had a low self-esteem which caused his extreme jealousy of her,” January’s stated in a social media post.
“After I had been shot, he (Crawford) stood over me (pointing a gun) and told me he was going to kill me,” according to January. “He ended up leaving and by the grace of God I’m still here today.”
January said both her legs were wounded in the shooting.
“The bullets went through both legs and crushed my femur bone on my left leg. A rod and screws were placed in my leg,” January said.
Surgery was necessary after a clogged artery was discovered in her leg. Doctors took a vein from her right leg and placed it in her left leg along with a stent.
January was released from the hospital on Saturday. A GoFundMe account was made to assist with January’s recovery.
“She always had a smile on her face,” said Chanda Wolfe, Page’s mother. “She didn’t deserve to die. He beat the crap out of her.”
Page had just graduated in December with her Certified Nursing Assistant license.
“She was so proud,” Wolfe said of her oldest daughter’s accomplishment. “She always put her family first.”
Wolfe said she spent the final moments of her life trying to protect her children, ages 5, 6 and 8.
Page and Crawford started dating around the fall of 2022, she said. The abuse started several weeks later.
“He (Crawford) had struck her above the eye with a pair of scissors,” Wolfe said about the abuse Page experienced at the hands of Crawford.
“We called the sheriff’s office but she (Page) didn’t want to press charges,” Wolfe said.
Domestic Violence in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is ranked second in the country, according to a report from Violence Policy Center titled, “When Men Murder Women”. The report, released in 2022, provides information from the FBI’s 2020 crime data. And these numbers put three of the Four States, in the top 10 for most women murdered by men.
Arkansas is ranked fourth, Missouri is ranked sixth and Kansas is ranked 31, according to the report, which is under the umbrella of the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide state-by-state statistical report.
In Oklahoma, 66 females were homicide victims in 2020. The typical victim was 40 years old, white, shot with a handgun, was either a wife, common-law wife, ex-wife or girlfriend of the shooter and an argument preceded the shooting.
Crawford had a history of stalking, cyberstalking, assault on a female and drug violations dating back to 2007, North Carolina court records show.
The chaos prior to the shooting centers on Crawford’s erratic and violent behavior toward Page.
“I received a text (message) from her (January) saying she had been shot” and she was in a neighbor’s yard, said Mary Truitt, January’s friend and neighbor.
Truitt called the sheriff’s department for help as she raced toward January and Page. The dispatcher said they had received a call moments earlier and deputies had been dispatched to the bloody scene, she said.
Truitt worked as a domestic violence house manager when she lived in Georgia, and she knew the signs of “battered woman syndrome.”
Page had all the signs, she said.
Battered woman syndrome results in several distinct symptoms. A person in an abusive relationship may:
- think the abuse is their fault
- hide the abuse from friends and family
- fear for their life or the lives of their children
- believe that the abuser is all-knowing and can see their every movement
- be afraid and never know what side of their partner they’ll see that day — a loving partner or an abuser
Crawford had beaten Page in the past, but she always defended him saying she fell or something like that, Truitt said.
“I told her (Page) things with a batterer don’t get better – they get worse,” Truitt said. “You could end up dead – and she did.”
Moments before the fatal shooting a bruised Page and January were outside of their neighbor’s residence. Page’s throat was bruised and family and friends believe Crawford had grabbed Page by the throat.
“He (Crawford) had taken her phone from her, and she was wanting help,” Truitt said.
January called the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department to report the abuse.
Then the shooting began.
Truitt said it’s unclear who Crawford shot first.
“He started shooting and Bridget ran but Ashlee just stood still,” Truitt said.
Authorities said Page was fatally wounded by a gunshot wound to her abdomen.
The other neighbor, heard the noise and gunshot sounds and came to his door with a gun, she said.
Truitt said Crawford stole Page’s grandparent’s jeep and took off after seeing the neighbor with a gun.
“He was all about saving himself,” Truitt said.
Crawford shot off 12 rounds from a semi-automatic handgun leaving the neighbor’s home covered in a spray of bullets.
“He didn’t want to leave a witness,” Truitt said. “The police found a bullet lodged in their sofa.”
Verla Marsh is a domestic abuse survivor who knew what was going on when several weeks ago when she heard a loud pounding at her back door in the middle of the night. She said she looked through a window and saw two little boys and a woman covered in blood.
“I looked out the window and saw a car speeding away,” Marsh said. “I pulled her in the house, and she started crying.”
Marsh said she was able to piece together through Page’s tears and the boys’ frightened voices, the young mother had been severely beaten by her boyfriend.
Marsh said she called the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, and they were at her residence within five minutes.
“I had her (Page) washed up – she had a bad cut to her temple,” Marsh said.
“When the deputies got there, she was changing her story saying she hit her head on the car door,” Marsh said.
Marsh and the deputies tried to reason with Page and tried to get her to file a report, but she kept saying she was in an accident, she said.
“I had nightmares for several days,” Marsh said. “The boys were just so scared.”
And now, they have no mother.
If you, or someone you know, is in a domestic violence situation please reach out to the Delaware County Sheriff at (918) 253-4531, the Community Crisis Center at (918) 253-3939 in Jay or (918) 787-5381 in Grove.