Sunday, June 2, 2002

The bodies of a Fairfax County couple slain in Ocean City during Memorial Day weekend are believed to be buried in a pile of trash in one of two Delmarva landfills, police said yesterday.
A court commissioner ordered the double-slaying suspects Benjamin and Ericka Sifrit, 24, of Altoona, Pa. held without bail at the Worcester County Jail in Snow Hill, Md., said Jay Hancock, an Ocean City police spokesman.
The Sifrits are scheduled to appear for bail review tomorrow morning at Worcester County District Court in Snow Hill on charges that include first-degree murder and handgun violations.
“The potential maximum penalty is up to the death penalty, and nothing has been ruled out,” said E. Scott Collins, deputy state’s attorney for Worcester County. “It’s early yet. Right now, all we’ve got is a crime. Now we start the fine digging, like trying to find out what was behind this. I’d like to know what the motive was.”
Joshua Edward Ford, 32, and Martha Crutchley, 51, were killed late last Sunday night or early Monday morning, Mr. Hancock said. Authorities said Mrs. Sifrit confessed she and her husband disposed of the bodies in a trash bin in northern Ocean City or southern coastal Delaware.
Police searched through trash bins in both areas but found nothing.
During regularly scheduled pickups, “the dumpsters were emptied at least once, so the focus will be on the landfills,” Mr. Hancock said.
Law enforcement officials in southern Delaware and Worcester County are planning how to sift through the Worcester County landfill near Snow Hill and the Sussex County, Del., landfill near Millsboro the two sites where trash would have been transported.
Police said Mr. and Mrs. Sifrit were arrested early Friday morning when they were caught burglarizing the Ocean City Hooters’ restaraunt. While searching their car for stolen property, officers found identification cards of Mr. Ford and Miss Crutchley, as well as vacation photographs of the Fairfax City couple.
The Sifrits were first charged with burglary, theft and handgun violations in connection with the mass amounts of Hooters’ merchandise including T-shirts and other souvenirs, but police said Mrs. Sifrit confessed to the slayings after a search of the Ocean City penthouse apartment they were renting turned up two spent bullets with human tissue, splattered blood and a key to the condominium where Mr. Ford and Miss Crutchley were staying.
Mr. Collins, the deputy prosecutor, declined comment when asked who of the Sifrits is suspected of committing the slayings. He said it is not known how the two couples’ paths crossed.
Mrs. Sifrit told police she couldn’t remember if the trash container was in Delaware or Ocean City, Mr. Hancock said.
“They found absolutely nothing. They found garbage when they were looking in Dumpsters,” said Lt. Tim Winstead, a Delaware State Police spokesman. He said the department’s homicide squad helped search dumpsters in Fenwick Island and a location outside of Rehoboth, off of Route 1.
Ocean City’s last murder was in May 1999, when a construction worker, Thomas Lynch of Riverdale, was bludgeoned to death with a 4-foot cast-iron tent pole in an Ocean City Inlet parking lot.
Robert John Sutton, then 27 and also from Altoona, was convicted in February 2000 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The slayings are not linked, but some Ocean City police officers and Worcester County prosecutors said they found the common thread strangely coincidental.

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