A 54-year-old Modesto man, William Thomas Schendel, has been charged with the murder of Aimee Eddington Crawford, 40, who was found dead May 1 at a home east of Oakdale.
The charge includes two enhancements, according to the criminal complaint against Schendel: first, that he acted with premeditation, and second, that he used a deadly weapon, a candle holder, to kill Crawford. Enhancements may be used to lengthen a prison sentence when a defendant is convicted.
Schendel was scheduled to be arraigned in Stanislaus County Superior Court on Monday afternoon but was not expected to appear because he is undergoing treatment in a local hospital, said District Attorney's Office spokesman John Goold.
A vehicle collision on Highway 120 hours before Crawford's body was found sent Schendel to the hospital with major injuries. He was westbound at about 8:25 a.m. May 1 when he made an unsafe turn into the path of an eastbound pickup, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Faustino Pulido.
In the pickup were driver Gilbert Ehresman, 75, and passenger Barbara Ehresman, 74, both of Woodland. They were not injured, Pulido said.
Later that day, shortly after 4 p.m., Stanislaus County sheriff's deputies and emergency medical workers were dispatched to the 13000 block of Horseshoe Road after Crawford's body was found by family members.
A news release from the Sheriff's Department that day said an autopsy would determine the cause of death. As of Monday, no information on cause of death had been released. Neither was information on how Schendel was identified as the suspect.
A celebration of Crawford's life will be held May 11 at the Oakdale Rodeo Grounds clubhouse, according to a Facebook event listing. One of the hosts, Katelyn Hasley of Oakdale, posted, "She was the most beautiful, intelligent, intuitive and loving friend. Words aren't enough."
Another friend, Kris Engelhardt, commented on the post: "Yes she was. Such a genuine beautiful & kind soul ... our talks with her insight & old soul wisdom guided me & got me through some difficult days. ... It was her smile & being that made all the difference those days. I still can’t believe she is gone — and the reason!"