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Man who confessed to Oklahoma murder dies

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It's not often one gets to call a murderer a murderer. But in the case of Oklahoma City murderer Benjamin Harry Crider II, the penalties are waived.

Crider died recently in Marion, Ky. He was 49. According to scuttle around the Crittenden Free Press, he died of a heart attack.

In 1996, Crider was arrested by Oklahoma City police in the murder of his stepdaughter, Crystal Dittmeyer, a spunky 12-year-old with the unfortunate circumstances of allegedly having suffered through a succession of abuse since she was 4 months old, according to reports.

According to police, Crider killed his stepdaughter in a fit of rage because she used his shower. He confessed to striking her in a manner that caused her death. A witness saw a pool of blood on the carpet in the apartment that had soaked through to the concrete floor beneath.

It would be simple to say the case is really closed now with Crider dead. But that's not exactly true. In 2005, Crider agreed to a plea deal and pleaded guilty to killing Crystal, but never told anyone where the body was. His attorney, David Autry, explained that Crider didn't know.

"(He) doesn't know where the body is. We pleaded guilty so he could get out of prison," Autry said.

Just great. So, who would know? Well, there are theories.

Crystal's mother, Tammy Jean Austin, originally testified against her husband, Crider, but was later shown to have given testimony so egregious that it led to Crider's release from prison.

Austin scored badly on a lie detector (polygraph) test on several important questions regarding Crystal's disappearance, according to Warren Powers, the polygrapher.

"The following relevant questions were asked on a specific issue polygraph examination," he wrote.

 "Did you work in collusion with anyone to cause Crystal to disappear? Subject answered 'NO.'" "Did you personally cause Crystal to disappear? Subject answered 'NO.'" "Could you take me now to Crystal? Subject answered 'NO.'"

"She scored a total overall score of -31," Powers concluded. "A -6 starts the deception range on an overall score. This examiner's opinion is that Tammy has told substantially less than the truth concerning the disappearance of her daughter, Crystal."

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