Explosive: Woman who implicated officer in Dothan teens murder recants

Coley McCraney arrives at court.  Ozark, AL on April 3, 2019. (Source: WTVY)
Coley McCraney arrives at court. Ozark, AL on April 3, 2019. (Source: WTVY)(WTVY News 4)
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 7:33 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OZARK, Ala. (WTVY) - A woman who had accused Ozark police of covering up the murder of two teens to protect one of their own recanted those claims in explosive testimony on Thursday.

“I lied,” Rena Crumb said during a court hearing to determine what evidence will be permitted in Coley McCraney’s high profile murder trial.

McCraney, arrested three years ago, is charged with the heinous shootings of Dothan teens J.B.Beasley and Tracie Hawlett in 1999.

But Crumb had been counted on to set him free with her riveting account of smutty police involvement and coverup.

Once with her own law enforcement aspirations, she had claimed Ozark officers shielded those crimes behind “the thin blue line”, ignoring the suspected cop’s drunken stupor admission that he is the real killer.

And she had told that same story to a man whose blog spewed the hypothesis onto social media where it went viral and ignited a firestorm of speculation with a public that had already become skeptical because police in 1999 charged the wrong man in this bizarre case.

“I lied about that, too,” Crumb told attorney David Harrison, who represents McCraney.

Harrison believes he knows why she changed her account, doing so after meeting with a top current Ozark police official in February when she still stood by her conspiracy theory.

But Crumb later learned that officer who interviewed her is closely related to the man—now retired---that she spent 16 years accusing of the crimes.

Harrison suggested she had been threatened to change her story.

“Did you say (that officer) killed those girls?” he asked.

First testifying repeatedly that she could not remember Crumb eventually blurted, “I lied.”

The officer she had accused took the stand and vehemently denied his involvement as did the investigator who had questioned Crumb this year.

And before the hearing Crumb, who suffers emotional issues, approached the officer she had implicated and apologized to him.

In other testimony on Thursday, Coley McCraney’s wife recalled her husband was home before 1 a.m. on August first, the day police found the bodies in a car trunk. Her testimony could not account for about 90 minutes between his arrival and when the girls were last heard from.

A teen who in 1999 delivered newspapers in Ozark testified that he observed two police vehicles near the crime scene hours before the bodies were found.

But when cross examined by prosecutor David Emery the witness backed off, amending his statement to reflect he was “pretty sure” he saw those cop cars along Herring Avenue.

Emery told Judge William Filmore the real evidence is McCraney’s DNA left on Ms. Beasley after he ejaculated onto her.

In additional to capital murder, he is charged with one rape count.

Dale County Judge William Filmore is considering what, if any, testimony he heard Thursday will be allowed during McCraney’s trial that is scheduled on August 15.

Copyright 2022 WTVY. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to our News 4 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning. Get instant notifications on top stories from News 4 by downloading our mobile apps.