By Ed Runyan
Roleigh Culver was only 18 the first time his name appeared on a police report related to domestic violence.
He was living at his mother’s house on Elmwood Drive, north of North River Road in Howland Township, in March 2007.
It was then that his girlfriend’s mother told Howland police Culver had accidentally head-butted a 17-year-old girl in the nose, causing injuries to her face after an argument.
It was the first “physical incident” between the two, the victim’s mother told police.
Nine years and 18 domestic-violence-related calls later, Culver’s most-recent girlfriend, Jessica A. Crowder, 36, is dead after Culver, 27, shot her Friday at her home in Hamilton Street Southwest. Culver then killed himself at a nearby vacant house as Warren police closed in.
Crowder’s death was ruled a homicide, the result of multiple gunshot wounds, the coroner’s office reported Monday. Culver’s death was ruled suicide, the result of a gunshot wound to the head.
Also Monday, the Warren Police Department released a report suggesting that Culver may have stolen the gun he used from a next-door neighbor.
The neighbor, Michael Settle, 56, reported at 5:25 p.m. Friday – six hours after Crowder’s death – he discovered his gun missing. He said Culver had been at his house the night before, and Culver had been alone while Settle went to the bathroom.
When he returned, Culver was “in a hurry and left the residence.” Police Chief Eric Merkel said he doesn’t know whether Settle’s gun was the murder weapon.
There are 18 police reports out of Howland and Warren pertaining to incidents involving Culver and women. Five of them are reports involving Culver assaulting Crowder. One of them resulted in Culver being convicted of domestic violence in Warren Municipal Court and sentenced to 40 days in jail last October.
A Warren police report says Culver, at the time an ex-boyfriend, side-swiped Crowder’s car on Summit Avenue Northwest, forcing Crowder’s car into a yard on Sept. 29, 2015. The incident stemmed from Culver being jealous, she told police, adding he had threatened to kill her earlier.
Police arrested and charged him later that night.
A Warren report from Jan. 1, 2015, says Culver punched Crowder in the face while they were traveling in a car on Highland Avenue Southwest. Her eye was swollen shut with severe bruising, and she had a fracture of her orbital bone, police said. Her neck had numerous bruises and hand prints around her throat.
On June 6, 2014, Culver also hit Crowder in the head with a closed fist, pulled her hair and ripped her shirt, according to a Howland police report.
On Jan. 18, 2014, Culver grabbed Crowder by the throat and shirt and pulled her across the living-room carpet after she refused to give him prescription medication, she told Howland police.
In July 2013, Culver was dating another Warren woman who reported that Culver assaulted her. In July 2014, a magistrate approved a four-year civil stalking-protection order against Culver. He spent 14 days in jail after being convicted of domestic violence against that woman, according to Warren Municipal Court records.
In December 2010, Culver’s mother, Brenda Culver of Elmwood Drive, reported Culver had threatened to shoot and kill her. Culver was sentenced to 30 days in jail in 2011 for domestic violence against his mother, according to records.
From 2007 to 2010, there are a litany of other complaints filed against Culver that run the gamut from aggravated menacing to assault.
Peggy Crowder, Jessica Crowder’s mother, told The Vindicator on Friday afternoon, several hours after her daughter died, that Culver “had a troubled past. I think in her heart, she thought he would change.”
Bonnie Wilson, director of the Trumbull County domestic-violence shelter Someplace Safe, said domestic violence is about power and control, and “patterns continue, usually” unless something happens to intervene.
On average, “women will go back to an abuser seven to 10 times before making a decision to leave,” she said.