WALKER COUNTY, Texas — At 18 months old, Aiyden Benjamin Lewis was just learning how to talk. His grandmother, 55-year-old Shanta Fey Crawford retired so she could be with him while his mother was at work.
The two were found viciously murdered at her home west of Hunstville on Wednesday evening, and now the search is on for the person responsible, according to authorities.
Crawford and her grandson were found dead in their home along Highway 30 at M. Williams Road. Relatives said Crawford was found in the kitchen, while Aiyden was found in another room.
Walker County Sheriff’s deputies were led to the home after Crawford’s husband came home from work and made the gruesome discovery. He made a frantic 911 call, then ran outside crying and flagged down a neighbor.
“He called and stopped me and told me to come look,” said Larry O’Bryant.
O’Bryant went inside and saw Crawford lying dead on the kitchen floor. What happened to little Aiyden, he said, broke his heart.
“I’m mad. It would make anybody mad. It’s good I didn’t see who done it,” he said.
Crawford's nieces from Houston were in Huntsville visiting other family members when they got the call.
“We're just trying to wrap around mind around it. It's very difficult,” Tanesha Johnson, Crawford’s niece, said.
Family and friends in the community have no idea why anyone would hurt them.
“She was always talking about God. She was supposed to go to a prayer meeting. She's full of life. She had the prettiest smile,” Unlesha Crawford said.
They said the little boy had the cutest ways about him.
“He was so sweet, so full of life. The last time I saw him, he was taking pleasure in running in circles,” Unlesha Crawford said.
Neighbors said the family was well-known at a nearby Baptist church. Church members were getting ready for service on Wednesday night when they received the bad news.
“One call came behind another call, and because I’ve been friends so long with the family, the right thing to do was to come be with the family,” said family friend Debora Byrd.
Loved ones said the grandmother was a peaceful woman with a big heart. They were shocked to learn someone had cut her life—and the life of her precious grandson – so short.
“My sister-in-law, especially, you know she was tremendous. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for you; always wore a smile. She was just a good person,” said Don Mills.
The murders left Crawford’s next door neighbor puzzled.
“I didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary or see anything out of the ordinary, but, I’m sorry, I’m still just a little shaken up,” said Wesley Haynie.
Most in the area can’t remember any crimes – so heinous — happening there.
“I don’t know how to describe it, I really don’t. I’m sad about the situation because I would really like to know what really went on,” said Johnny Hawkins.
The victims’ loved ones agree.
“I don’t have a clue really as to what happened, I’ve got a lot of suspicions but, basically, that’s all it is – is a suspicion right now because I haven’t had anyone to tell me anything,” Mills said.
The Texas Department of Public Safety held a news conference Wednesday night, but troopers revealed very little about the murders and their search for the killer.
“It’s very difficult — hard to do — but that’s what they’re paid to do, and they’re going to do their job,” said DPS Trooper Erik Burse.
The Texas Rangers are assisting with the ongoing investigation.