Portions of this article contain editorial content which is the opinion of the writer.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PA- Every once in a while an incident comes along which shows the true inhumanity of some people. Such is the case involving the mother of a Pennsylvania mother of four who was senselessly murdered as she worked as an Uber driver.
Christi Spicuzza, 38, was working as an Uber driver to earn extra money for her family, according to Fox News. On Feb. 10 at around 9:15 pm, Spicuzza picked up a fare in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Upon entering her vehicle, 22-year-old Calvin Crew pulled a gun out and put it to the back of Spicuzza’s head, according to a criminal complaint. This was based on video evidence derived from a dash cam in Spicuzza’s vehicle.
The New York Post said Spicuzza initially told Crew, “You’ve got to be joking,” as he put the gun to her head.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Spicuzza begged Crew not to hurt her.
“I’m begging you, I have four kids,” she told Crew.
Crew replied, “I’ve got a family too. Now drive.”
Crew assured Spicuzza that if she complied with his demands, everything would “be all right.” He stated this just before reaching for the dashcam when the footage ends.
Spicuzza was reported missing Feb. 11 after failing to return home from her Uber position the night before. Her body was discovered by a delivery driver on Feb. 12 and Pitcairn police found her vehicle a short distance away. She died of a single gunshot wound to the head, police said. The town is located about 10 miles east of Pittsburgh.
According to police, GPS records showed Spicuzza had driven through several neighborhoods with crew allegedly in the back seat. Police further said that Crew had received a text from his 22-year-old girlfriend Tanaya Mullen that said, “[I’m] not going to jail if we get caught.”
According to the Post, Mullen told police her handgun had gone missing after she brought it to a party for one of Crew’s relatives. Police say it is unknown if that was the weapon used to kill Spicuzza. Mullen has yet to be charged. Police did not comment further on the text message.
According to Allegheny Police Superintendent Christopher Kearns, there didn’t appear to be any type of connection between Crew and Spicuzza and the motive appeared to be robbery. Kearns said police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the murder.
Crew was arrested last Thursday and was arraigned Friday in front of District Judge Robert P. Dvonick. He is currently being held in the Allegheny County Jail, the Post-Gazette reported and is being held without bond.
Law Enforcement Today recently reported on another young woman, this time a police officer, who begged for her life. For more on that, we invite you to:
The editorial comments in this article are brought to you by a former Chief of Police.
BRADLEY, IL- There is a special place in hell for some people. Such is the case of the monsters who shot a Bradley, Illinois police officer to death with her own gun last week as she pleaded for her life, according to NBC News.
Prosecutors in Kankakee County shared details of Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic’s brutal death Monday, while noting they would be seeking the death penalty for the two suspects in the shooting.
State’s Attorney Jim Rowe said he would be asking federal prosecutors to pursue the death penalty for the suspects, Darius Sullivan, 25 and Xandria Harris, 26. They have been charged with first degree murder and first degree attempted murder.
The shooting came about at about 9:56 p.m. on December 29 after Sgt. Rittmanic, 49, and her partner, Off. Tyler Bailey, 27, responded to a call at a Comfort Inn in Bradley, which is located about 60 miles south of Chicago on Dec. 29. They were responding to, of all things, a call about dogs barking in an unattended vehicle in the parking lot.
Bailey identified the owner of the vehicle, Harris, whom he knew as an acquaintance of Sullivan. It was confirmed there was a room in Sullivan’s name booked in the hotel.
They were located in a room inside the hotel and the officers began speaking with them as they stood outside the door. It was learned at some point there were warrants for Sullivan for failure to appear in court. He had also previously fled from Bradley officers who tried to detain him on warrants.
At some point in time, the two suspects exited the room and shot both officers, police said in a press release.
On Monday during a bond hearing, Rowe laid out what occurred at the hotel. The officers knocked on the hotel room door at around 10:13 p.m., receiving no response.
They knocked again about a minute later, and Bailey identified himself as a police officer, asking Harris to come out of the room to speak about the barking dogs, Rowe related. He said Harris allegedly responded “Yes.”
Officers knocked on the door for at least three more times, asking Harris to come out. Each time, she said she was coming. At some point, after about a 14 minute wait, Harris started to exit the room however was “squeezing” herself through a small opening, believed to be in an attempt to prevent the officers from taking Sullivan into custody.
Rittmanic and Bailey told Harris to stop blocking the doorway. He said that Sullivan came out of the hotel room armed with a 9mm handgun with a drum clip, prosecutors said according to NBC Chicago.
As Harris struggled with the officers, Sullivan shot Bailey in the head, Rowe said.
Sullivan then turned his attention to Rittmanic and shot her as she sought to distance herself.
Sullivan, whose gun had jammed, chased Rittmanic down the hallway and was able to pin her against a door. Sullivan attempted to unjam his gun with his right hand and mouth, Rowe said, while also trying to disarm Rittmanic with his left hand.
During the scuffle, Sullivan called out to Harris to “cock the gun, cock the gun,” Rowe said, and they were eventually able to disarm Rittmanic.
The two dirtbags then stood over Rittmanic, and pointed the guns at her as she lay helpless on the floor, having already been shot once. Rowe said the sergeant begged Sullivan not to shoot her.
“Sgt Rittmanic was pleading with them to, ‘Just leave, you don’t have to do this, pleas just go, please don’t, please don’t,’” Rowe said. “She was desperately pleading for her life.”
As Harris was holding Sullivan’s 9mm, Sullivan fired two shots from a gun believed to be Rittmanic’s, striking her in the neck area.
After the shooting, Harris gave Sullivan the keys to the car and told him, “You have to go,” whereby Sullivan fled down the hotel stairs and left in a vehicle. Harris went back to the hotel room, where she got her belongings and her two children (mother of the year, clearly) and fled,” Rowe said.
The two officers were taken to area hospitals in critical condition; Sgt. Rittmanic later died from her wounds, while Bailey was still hospitalized in critical condition on Monday, “fighting for his life,” Rowe said.
Sullivan was located by the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force after walking out of a home in North Manchester, Indiana, located about 35 miles west of Fort Wayne. He remains in custody awaiting extradition back to Illinois. He is being held without bail.
Harris turned herself in about seven hours after Sullivan’s arrest, accompanied by her attorney.
At her bond hearing, Harris “actively assisted and enabled Darius Sullivan throughout the course of the murder of Sgt. Rittmanic and [attempted] murder of officer Bailey, and she is equally responsible.
Harris was denied bail.
Sullivan is charged with six counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, and one charge of aggravated battery with a firearm.
Harris meanwhile is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.
Sullivan refused to waive extradition back to Illinois, and Rowe’s office is working to secure a governor’s warrant to get him back to Illinois to face charges.
Rowe said Monday the charges filed for both include first-degree murder of a police officer and attempted first-degree murder of a police officer.
The state will proceed with charges in the Kankakee County Courthouse, and will seek life sentences for Sullivan and Harris.
While Illinois (as most liberal states did) eliminated the death penalty, Rowe said he was submitting a request to the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois and the U.S. Attorney General to review the case in order to lodge federal murder charges against both suspects.
Unlike Illinois, the federal government still allows death sentences. Rowe said this was being done due to legal precedent and “the nature of the offenses.”
“Our State’s Attorney’s Office will now work to ensure these offenders face the harshest justice the law allows, no matter the jurisdiction, and to ensure that the full weight of the criminal justice system is brought to bear upon them and anyone who assisted them,” Rowe said.
Th cases are scheduled to proceed before a grand jury later this month. Harris’ arraignment is set for Jan. 27.
Sgt. Rittmanic joined the Bradley Police Department in 2007, Fox News reported, and was promoted to sergeant in 2014, according to Lt. Philip Trudeau, a spokesman for the Bradley Police Department. She had previously spent seven years serving as a deputy with the Iroquois County Sheriff’s Department, he added.
Bradley police have announced that Sgt. Rittmanic’s funeral will be on January 8, with visitation the day before. Thousands of police and emergency services personnel are expected to attend her funeral.
On Monday, the Illinois State Police released a statement on behalf of her family and the Bradley Police Department, praising her for her work and thanking the community for an outpouring of support.
“Marlene believed in people and her ability to speak to the community with respect; meet them where they are in life; try to understand their true needs; and work together to find a solution that produced the least disruption in people’s lives,” the statement read, reported ABC7 in Chicago.
“To her—the job was about making her community safe for everyone, she believed—and stated, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Sgt. Rittmanic, a dog lover, published poet, amateur photographer and film producer for family events, Bradley Police Department recruiting, and community events, was awarded Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2020, the statement said.
“Our world has been turned upside down, obliterated, and hopelessly broken,” her family and colleagues said.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.
Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing! (See image below.) Thanks for being a part of the LET family!