Couple In Ocean City Killing Talked Cannibalism

5:45 PM, May 14, 2009   |    comments
  • Benjamin and Erika Sifrit after arrest.
  • Victims Martha Crutchley and Joshua Ford.
    
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HAGERSTOWN, Maryland (AP)--A Pennsylvania woman convicted of killing and dismembering a tourist couple in Ocean City, Maryland claims her husband suggested eating one of the victims but she refused, according to a court document filed Wednesday.

The reference appears in a judge's order denying a new trial for Erika E. Sifrit, 31, of Hollidaysburg, Pa., dubbed "Little Miss Scrapbook" by a prosecutor who said she kept souvenirs of her crimes.

Sifrit and her husband, Benjamin A. Sifrit, are serving prison time on charges in the 2002 deaths of Joshua Ford and Martha "Genie" Crutchley, of Fairfax, Va.

Prosecutors say the couples met over Memorial Day weekend on a bus in Ocean City. They drank at a bar before returning to the Sifrits' condominium to use the hot tub.

Ford and Crutchley were shot sometime that night, but it was never clear exactly what happened or why. Their remains were found in a Delaware landfill nine days later. At separate trials, the Sifrits blamed each other.

Erika Sifrit is serving a life sentence plus 20 years in prison for killing Crutchley and Ford. In a separate trial, Benjamin Sifrit was acquitted of killing Ford but found guilty of second-degree murder and other charges in Crutchley's death.

Erika Sifrit was trying to get a new trial based on claims that her attorney had provided an ineffective defense, mainly because he didn't give jurors details about her medical conditions. Those included a borderline personality disorder that clinical psychologist Robert Smith testified rendered her incapable of making her own decisions and choices.

But Frederick County Circuit Judge Julie Stevenson Solt denied her request. Solt's 26-page ruling included a statement to Ocean City Police Detective Scott T. Bernal after the slayings in which Erika Sifrit said she refused her husband's request to cook and eat one of the victims' legs.

The judge cited the statement as an example of Sifrit exercising control over her marital relationship, contrary to claims by her lawyer and expert witnesses that she was pathologically devoted to her husband.

Solt also wrote that Erika told police she had refused to take a picture of Benjamin, a former Navy SEAL, holding the victims' heads; ordered him to clean up the blood; and refused to help him kill her family and steal their money, a crime that never occurred.

Clinical social worker Michele Mikesell testified at a three-day hearing earlier this year that in 2000, after learning her husband had had an affair, Sifrit became deeply troubled and fearful of losing his love. Mikesell said she warned Sifrit "that unless she gets out of this marriage as fast as possible, something horrible will happen."

The Sifrits' lawyers didn't return calls from The Associated Press.

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