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A warning about content. This show contains descriptions of violence. Listener discretion is advised. On the morning of Friday, September 15th, 1995, with the confession of the ransom collar Irene Flores in hand, FBI agents requested a warrant to arrest Hilton Crawford.


They did let us know that they were going to arrest Hilton Crawford, but we were not to talk about it.


Mckay had now been missing for two and a half days. By that time, Carl and Paulette had started connecting the dots about Hilton as well.


People just started coming forward with just all these little tiny tidbits, and they watched everybody who came and went. Who didn't show up was Connie and Hilton Crawford. Bingo. There you go. What do you say? Why would you do such a stupid, fool-hearted thing to a child? Evil, stupidity, idiot. If you had only called and asked for money, we could have helped you. We would have rallied your friends around you. That's when the FBI was like, they were mad. They were like, We're getting me gay. And you could see it in their face. You could tell they were hyper-focused on that.


Law enforcement still had no idea where McKay was.


Our primary concern is the safe return of McKay, and the key to that is Hilton.


Bob Lee was among the FBI agents and Sheriff's deputies that set up for the arrest down the street from the Crawford's home.


We probably had 12, 15 agents and police officers there at the time.


The officers prepared for the worst. Hilton was a former cop running a security guard company, so he was presumed to be armed and dangerous Idriss. They waited until he left for work.


At about 6:30, we had an arrest team that went to Hilton's house. He was outside the house getting into his car.


Officers sped in and blocked Hilton's driveway with their vehicles. They leapt out, guns drawn, and yelled for him to exit the vehicle, hands in the air.


And there were four of us that approached him.


Hilton got out of the car slowly and raised his hands as the officers drew near. They leaned him against his car, cuffed him, and patted him down to search for weapons, but he was unarmed. Agent Donnie Miller remembers how the commotion drew neighbors out of their homes.


They were angry with us, and there were women who were crying, and they said, You have the wrong person.


That man could not have done this.


With McKay still missing, time was of the essence, so investigators began to question Hilton immediately.


We brought him in the house, and I started to interview him about the kidnapping.


The officer sat Hilton down at his dinner table and undid his handcuffs. He asked to speak to his wife, but the officers told him no.


I approached him really two ways. First of all, I wanted to let Hilton know the evidence that we had amassed against him so far and told him that there was absolutely no doubt that he had kidnapped McKay Everett, and these are the reasons why.


Agent Lee brought up how Bill Kahn had seen his car leaving the scene of the crime, that Hilton had lied about when he'd checked into the hotel and that Irene Flores had confessed and ratted him out.


To try to get him to talk to me, I was developing a theme that his wife and kids live in the community and how she was to be perceived in the community depended in a large part on how he reacted right now. And he was cold. That had no effect on him. So then I turned it. Hilton, a lot depends on how you're going to be treated when you're in prison. And all of a sudden, he started sweating. His face turned red, and he fell out of his chair. We called for medical attention, but he said, no, he was fine. Ask him if he would continue talking to He said he would. Then a short time later, he said he better talk to an attorney. Generally, when he says, I need an attorney, all questioning stops. But there is one exception. It's a public safety exception. I said, Hilton, I need to know one thing. Is McKay in danger right now? And he looked at me and said, No, he's not in any danger.


From KSL podcast, I'm Art Rascone. This is Ransom: Position of Trust. Episode 4, Finding McKay. It was September 15th at around 8:00 AM, two and a half days from when McKay disappeared. Officers reshackled Hilton Crawford to take him to the Montgomery County Jail. He made a final request. He wanted them to bring the car up close to the house to avoid his neighbor seeing him in handcuffs. Bob Lee told him the car was close enough and let him out the door. Agents searched Crawford's home for possible evidence. Among the items they collected were a gas station receipt from the night of McKay's kidnapping, two cell phones and a pager, a shotgun and a revolver, and a folder that contained a large number of credit cards. Fbi agent Cindy Rosenthal was assigned to monitor Hilton's wife, Connie Crawford.


They needed someone to stay with Mrs Crawford, and so I spent a lot of time at Mrs Crawford's house. She was very shocked, as I remember. Had no idea. She was not handling any of this well, and she wasn't very talkative to me, so I didn't push her. I wasn't there to talk to her or interrogate her. I was there to make sure she was safe, make sure the home was safe, and things like that. But when she was putting her makeup, she just put her hand over her face and start crying. She seemed like someone who was very concerned about her reputation in the community, and I think that bothered her a lot, what people were going to think of her. I also remember when we finally left that there was news crews all in front of the house, so that wasn't fun either.


The upper middle class splendor of Rivershore holds graceful homes, wealthy residents, and as of seven o'clock this morning, a crime scene.


Fbi agents gathered evidence of the residence of the suspect in the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy.


The neighbor searched for questions, but the FBI is not answering many.


They're keeping a tight lid on this investigation into the kidnapping and even the search for the boy.


But the Montgomery County Sheriff says all involved operate on the assumption that McKay Everett is still alive.


Cindy Rosenthal, the agent assigned to monitor Connie Crawford, was dumbfounded that McKay had been kidnapped by a close family friend.


It It's just so hard to believe that someone who was loved by that family would do such a horrible thing. It was really shocking.


But at the same time, Hilton's friendship with the Everets gave her hope that McKay was still alive.


They have a close relationship. He knows this child. He wouldn't kill him.


The Everets' neighbor, Nancy Khan, had a similar thought after Hilton was arrested.


He's going to be okay. It was just a bad, bad, bad mistake. So McKay somewhere. We'll get him back. I mean, the biggest thing on all of our minds is where was he?


Nancy says she went over to see the Everettts after Hilton's arrest.


They say, Man, don't cry and all that, but they do. Carl was very, very, very torn apart. And of course, Paulette being the loving mother she was to McKay, she was just devastated. Just so hopeful, though. Both of them were very hopeful that they would see him again.


Five miles away in the Montgomery County Jail, Hilton Crawford had tears in his eyes. He allegedly told a jail guard that he needed to phone his wife because he'd made a terrible mistake. He said that McKay was being held in Louisiana by a man named Remington. Hilton said that Remington was supposed to put McKay on a bus and send him back to Houston, and that he'd show up any day now. But when investigators heard this story from the guard and tried to get more details out of Hilton, he clammed up. As a ransom listener, you know that the world can be a very dangerous and unpredictable place. There are a variety of indoor and outdoor cameras that allow you to have that peace of mind, knowing that you can see everywhere in and out of your home, wherever you are. It's backed by 24/7 professional monitoring for less than $1 a day, no contracts, and a 60-day money-back guarantee. Simply Safe was named Best Home Security Systems 2024 by US News & World Report. Newsweek ranked it Best Customer Service in home security. It really gives you that personal peace of mind that everything's okay.


And that's why I recommend Simply Safe Home Security. Simply Safe has given me and many of my listeners real peace of mind. I want you to have it, too. Right now, get 20% off any new SimplySafe system with fast protect monitoring at simplisafe. Com/ransom. There's no safe like SimplySafe. Hilton might not have been opening up to law enforcement, but one of his friends was. When investigators arrested Hilton, they'd found some crumbled up sheets of paper in his pockets with names and phone numbers on them.


One of the sheets of paper had Billy Allen's phone number on it.


And one of the special agents had gone up and interviewed this person. Allen said that he knew Hilton Crawford through horse racing, but he didn't know anything about McKay or the kidnapping. But five minutes after the agent left, Alan called him back.


And said, I need you to come back up here to my place.


I need to talk to you again. Alan told him he hadn't been completely honest, and after consulting with his wife, he had decided to come clean. Alan ran a storage facility in Lumberton, Texas, and Hilton had shown up the morning after McKay disappeared.


He had met Billy Allen after he checked out of the West Western in Beaumont.


Allen says he returned home from an errand around 7:30 AM, and his wife told him Hilton had called trying to reach him. Alan called Hilton's home and got through to Connie, who he says, gave him a number where he could reach Hilton. But when he called that number, he didn't get through. Alan went to work at the storage facility, and a bit later, Hilton showed up and asked him to store a large green bag.


He took the agents to the storage shed and gave them the bag that Hilton had placed in there, and it contained a 0.45 caliber automatic pistol.


Investigators took the bag as evidence, then continued searching the storage facility. Inside, they found a car that Hilton had reported stolen three years earlier. Hilton had filed a claim saying his wife, Connie's jewelry, was in the trunk when the car was stolen. He had gotten around $40,000 from the insurance company. That night, deputies woke Hilton up every half hour, shining a flashlight into his face until he opened his eyes. They told him that he was on suicide watch and that it was standard protocol call, but to him it felt like harassment, like sleep deprivation. Paulette had trouble sleeping that night as well. Overnight, she and Carl came up with a plan. They knew if they wanted McKay back alive, their only hope was getting through to Hilton Crawford. They decided that since Carl knew Hilton better, he'd make an appeal to Hilton directly, and since Paulette knew Hilton's wife, Connie, better, she'd talk to Connie. The next morning, Saturday, September 16th, now three and a half days since McKay had disappeared, Paulette was feeling strange, and she was having trouble moving one of her legs.


I couldn't drive myself. My neighbor drove me. Connie was at her sister's house, and the driveway was a long driveway. I said, Don't pull up in the drive too far because we're unannounced and we're uninvited. As I was getting out, Connie ran down the driveway clutching a bed pillow, screaming at me, McKay's dead, McKay's dead. I know he's dead. Hilton hired a hitman.


Paulette says she asked Connie what she meant and how she knew that. And Connie yelled something about blood in the trunk of the car. Connie was clearly extremely upset. At the time, Paulette didn't know what to make of what Connie was raving about.


So I got her back in the house, and they were eating hamburgers, and Connie's youngest son, I sat down on the sofa and he knelt down on his knees saying he was sorry. He was so, so sorry. And it just didn't feel right.


Paulette's mind kept returning to what Connie had yelled in the driveway about Hilton hiring a hitman and McKay being dead.


I noticed there was a bedroom off to the side, and I asked Anne-Marie, that's Connie's sister, if I could take Connie in there and talk to her, and I took her in there.


After Hilton's arrest, the FBI had told Paulette that they were still searching for McKay and going off the assumption that he was alive. So Paulette didn't know if Connie was panicking assuming the worst, or if Connie knew something about Hilton's crimes that law enforcement didn't.


I started asking her questions, and she started answering me. I went back out and I said, I need pencil and paper. I went back in, and when I would ask her questions, I would write the answer down. I asked her, When did she know something was wrong? I asked her to tell me the circumstances.


Connie told she had just learned that Hilton had made a bad business decision and lost a lot of money.


She said that they were in a chicken business and shipping chickens on big boats. As she was talking, I thought, This is so bizarre.


To Paulette, Connie's story didn't make much sense.


My first thought, this is nothing but a cover up for drugs, and he's been associated with very, very bad people.


But now wasn't the time to speculate about what had driven Hilton to do this. Paulette had come to ask for Connie's help.


I said, I need you to get down to that jail house, and you don't come out of there until you buy a map of where my son is. And I said, You do that today.


Paulette had completed her part of the plan, but it had taken everything out of her.


I got back home. I told Carl, I'm not okay physically. It feels like I have been mutilated with shards of glass. And I said, I have got to lay down. I'm not okay.


Around noon that same day, a jail guard told Hilton Crawford they were moving him to a new cell. They walked him into a bullpen cell with a TV inside it. On screen, Hilton saw Carl Everett in jeans and a red polo shirt, standing in front of a row of microphones holding a football. The had writing on it. In permanent marker were the words from Uncle Hilton.


In my heart, I know you would never harm my son. You loved him like your son because you gave him his ball. He called you Uncle Hilton. I still love you as I talk to you right now, but help me get my son back. I don't know what else I can tell you other than I'd love to bring this ball down and take you with me and go out and wherever McKay and let's go play a ball with him this afternoon. That's what I'd love to do right now. And Hilton, all it is is a decision on your part.


We don't have the full audio of this press conference, but we know from newspaper reporting that Carl's plea continued. Three weeks ago, we were at your home playing with this ball, and when we got ready to leave, I said, Go give Uncle Hilton a hug. And McKay came over and hugged you and kissed you on the forehead.


I don't I don't know what has happened. I don't know who has stolen the dreams in your heart and in your mind. But Hilton, please don't take anything that's bad out on someone who's never done anything but good.


As soon as the press conference finished, it began again.


In my heart, I know you'll never harm my son.


The jail had recorded the live broadcast and looped it.


Because you gave him his ball.


Carl's please echoed and reverberated, bouncing off the hard surfaces of the jail cell walls.


I'd love to bring this ball down. In my heart, I know you'll never harm my son. I'll take you with me and go out and wear him. You loved him like your son. Let's go play ball with him this afternoon. You gave him his ball. That's what I love to do right now.


Hilton's own hard exterior was starting to crack.


I don't know what has happened. I don't know who has stolen the dreams in your heart and in your mind. But Hilton, please don't take anything that's bad out on someone who's never done anything but good.


This episode is sponsored by Betterhelp. Each one of us has different stressors that are bottled up within us, and they can start to affect us negatively if we don't do something about it. Therapy is a safe place to get things off your chest and to figure out how to make things work. If you're thinking about starting therapy, give Betterhelp a try. Just fill out a brief questionnaire to get matched with a licensed therapist and switch therapists anytime for no additional charge. Betterhelp is the place to go. It is online. It is designed to help us individually and personally in a very private way. From your own bedroom if you want. Get it off your chest with Betterhelp. Visit betterhelp. Com/ransom today to get 10% off your first month. That's betterhelp, H-E-L-P. Com/ransom. It was the afternoon of Saturday, September 16th, three and a half days since McKay disappeared. Hilton Crawford sat trapped in a Montgomery a county Texas jail cell as a television blared a looping press conference with his friend, Carl, pleading for him to tell investigators how to locate McKay. Sometime that afternoon, the looping tape of the broadcast stopped. A prison guard walked into the room and told Hilton someone had come to the prison to see him.


They brought him to a visitor's room where he saw his two sons sitting behind a plexiglas wall. 30-year-old Chris and 26-year-old Kevin passed a phone between one another to speak to him. We don't know exactly what transpired in this conversation, but the younger son, Kevin, spoke to an FBI agent immediately afterwards, and that agent wrote a report about it. The contents of this report have never previously been published.


Kevin Crawford indicated that his brother, Christopher, spoke first. He spoke to his father, mainly regarding immediate financial needs.


Although their mother, Connie, worked, Hilton was the one who managed the finances, and he had all the family's bills sent to him at his office. With Hilton in jail, Connie was concerned about keeping the lights on at home.


Kevin Crawford also said his father apologized to him for using four of his credit cards. Kevin did not know the time frame that his father had used the cards or which of the cards he had used. Shortly thereafter, Kevin had the opportunity to speak in more detail with their father with regard to the kidnapping of McKay Everard. He indicated that his father was sorry and embarrassed about the difficulties he had caused his family, and his father told him that he had made a mistake and was grief-stricken.


Hilton told Kevin that he had gotten himself into a horrible financial situation and that the whole kidnapping fiasco had started with a man named R. L. Remington. The FBI took note because this was the same name he had mentioned to the jail guard the night before.


His father told him he had first met R. L. Remington at the Louisiana Downs racetrack, located just outside Shreveport, Louisiana. Remington told him that he had a group which had executed a series of successful kidnappings, which always ended with the return of the kidnapped victims.


Hilton told Kevin that Remington had been cagey. He had asked for Hilton's contact information, but had never given Hilton his own.


Anytime they spoke on the telephone, Remington always called him. It was Kevin's understanding that his father never really knew Remington's identity and that the name may have been a fake name.


Hilton said that as Remington learned about his financial problems, Remington told him one of these kidnappings could be a solution.


At Remington's continued urging, Hilton indicated that he had undertaken the kidnapping.


But Hilton said it was a third individual who had actually knocked on the Everett's door to abduct McKay.


Hilton told Kevin that the other individual who was not further identified was dressed as a police officer. He grabbed McKay, put a hood over his head, and threw him into the trunk of their automobile.


Hilton told his son that because McKay had the hood over his head, McKay never saw him or knew that he was involved.


After grabbing the child, they drove straight to Louisiana, where the child was passed to a high-dollar maroon automobile bearing a Thibodeau Motors dealer insignia. Kevin Crawford said his father told him that McKay Everett suffered one cut on his arm while held in in the trunk. It was his understanding that the child was to be taken to New Orleans. His father also told him that it had been planned that the boy would be put on a bus and sent home in the event the kidnapping did not go as expected.


If Hilton's story proved true, there were now three accomplices who remained at large. R. L. Remington, the unnamed man who'd put the bag over McKay's head, and the driver of the maroon car they'd met in Louisiana. We reached out to Hilton's sons to ask them about their recollections of this conversation, but they declined to speak to us. Hilton was opening up to his family about his crimes, but the former cop still wasn't ready to talk to law enforcement. That afternoon, police in Houston arrested the ransom collar, Irene Flores. They tried to use the new information about R. L. Remington to get her to talk, but She insisted she'd never heard of him. She said she only dealt with Hilton, and her only involvement was making the ransom call. Sheriff Guy-William says investigators started searching for records of a man named R. L. Remington in Louisiana.


All the investigators were running on adrenaline, trying to do everything they could to get McKay back.


As law enforcement worked the case, the rest of East Texas was on pins needles, waiting to hear more about the investigation. Sheriff William's son went to the same school as McKay.


He told his mama later that the teachers will come up to school and say, Is there anything from your dad about McKay? And he goes, I don't know. I haven't seen my dad in three days.


But detectives weren't sure if R. L. Remington was even the accomplice's real name. That needs something more concrete from Hilton. That night, Sheriff Guy Williams decided he'd take a shot at getting Hilton to talk.


I don't know. I got this feeling, thought to go to jail and talk to Crawford. We didn't have anything to lose and everything to gain. But we knew that the odds of McKay being alive every hour it passed were diminished.


It was now Saturday, four days since McKay had disappeared. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 90% of abducted children are recovered within three days. But ransom kidnappings are so rare that the center doesn't even keep statistics on them. In many ways, this kidnapping was uncharded territory. Still, Guy Williams realized it was key to get Hilton to talk as soon as possible.


A lot of times a criminal, he wants to talk to the top dog. He wants to feel important. I played that to my advantage because I hadn't played that card yet. I went to the jail, and one of the advantages of being the sheriff is you come and go where you want to go. I went back to his cell and I sat down and I said, I know you've got an attorney, but my main goal, Hilton, is to get that boy back. I've heard all the stories in my life, and you're arresting a guy. Hey, I was on my way to turn myself in, or I knew I had messed up and I did it because of my mama. I've heard all those stories. So you got to learn just to listen to it and play the game with them because it's a game. They're trying to see how smart they are, and you're trying to think how you can outsmart them.


Sheriff Williams knew Hilton a little bit. Hilton's wife, Connie, had been his son's first-grade teacher.


I said, Everybody screws up at least once in our life, and it's how they respond of that mess up as to how you measure their character. He put his head down. He lowered his head a little bit. I said, I'm not asking any questions. That's all I got to say.


Sheriff Williams says Hilton seemed to be stifling tears, and there was a long pause.


You saw a little kink in the armor. He says, I need to call my attorney. Would you wait around?


Sheriff Williams handed Hilton a phone and walked to an adjacent room to give him some privacy as he called his attorney.


I walked over to one of our main pickets and went in with the deputies there and drank a cup of coffee. And he was on the phone, and all of a sudden, he looks through the window and he motions to me to come back. And I walk in the cell and he hands me the phone. It was his attorney. He says, he wants to talk to you. Don't talk till I get there, and I'm in Hilton also wanted to speak to his wife, Connie.


It was agreed that Hilton could speak to Connie while he waited for his attorney to arrive.


I told Hilton we'd be back with him in a little bit, and I called Bill Jones with the FBI and told Bill what had happened. And he says, I am in route because we didn't have a clue where McKay was. And that was our primary goal right then, was to find that young man.


Connie Crawford and her two sons arrived at the jail, and Sheriff Williams escorted her back to an interview room to speak to Hilton.


You could tell she lost a lot of sleep, cried a lot, had bags under her eyes, wanted to believe in her husband, but didn't I don't believe the worst.


They spoke for about half an hour before Hilton's lawyer, Jim Adams, arrived and joined them. Sometime later, Connie left the room, makeup running down her face. Then Hilton's attorney emerged and said that Hilton wanted to talk to investigators, but Hilton was looking for assurances. Adams said that Hilton didn't want to go to prison in Louisiana. By this point, the FBI agent, Bill Jones, had arrived at the jail, and Adams asked Jones to commit to a federal prosecution. As an attorney, Adams should have known that it was the job of prosecutors, not law enforcement, to decide which jurisdiction would prosecute Hilton. But 77-year-old Jim Adams wasn't a criminal attorney. He was a tax attorney who had helped Hilton through a bankruptcy four months earlier. Sheriff Williams and Agent Jones told Adams that they couldn't make him any promises or deals. All they wanted was the truth. The three men went into the room where Hilton sat waiting at a conference table.


So the lawyer came there, Bill came, and I knew I had one shot at it. I had a yellow pad and a pencil, and I sat down across the table from him and I just pushed over to him and said, You know what I want? Tell me where he's at. Because I knew that a confession was great, but where that boy was was the same as a confession.


Hilton's hands were shaking so much that at first he couldn't even pick up the pen.


I remember he said, Do you know where Whiskey Bay is? I said, Yes, it's on Interstate 10. And the actual fly a swamp. He goes, You'll find him here.


Next time on Ransom.


Law enforcement personnel were pretty much split down the middle over whether or not he actually did this.


I was yelling at McKay going, Look at me, just look at me one more time. And he never turned around.


For more information, including pictures, find us on social at the Ransom podcast or visit our website, ransompodcast. Com. We'll have new episodes every Wednesday and bonus episodes every Friday. Follow us now wherever you get your podcasts. And if you could leave a rating and review, we would really appreciate it. Ransom is researched and written by Ben Kebrick and hosted by me, Art Rascone. Production and sound design by Ben Kebrick, Erin Mason, and Trent Sell, who also did the mixing. Special thanks to Andrea Smarten, Kelly Ann Halberson, Ryan Meeks, Amy Donaldson, Felix Bennell, Josh Tilton and Dave Cawley. Voice acting this episode by Aaron Mason. Main musical score composed by Allison Layton-Brown, co-created by Austin Miller. For podcast one, executive producer Eli Dvorken. For Workhouse Media, executive producer Paul Anderson. And for KSL podcast, executive producer Sheryl Worsley. Ransom is produced by KSL Podcasts in association with podcast One and Workhouse Media.


They say money can't buy love, but it turns out you just have to wait till the end for the check to come. We trade uncomfortable truths for comfortable lies, imaginary solutions to real problems. I'm James Sexton, host of Unlikely Sources. You may know me from my books or my many interviews such as Soft White Underbelly, Lex Friedmann, or one of the many other places I've shared my perspective on love, life, and the law. I know a divorce lawyer isn't the first person you think of for advice on how to keep your relationship strong, but wisdom is found in unexpected counterintuitive places. In sickness, we see the value of health. The Godfather, it can teach you more about business than an MBA. Fight Club, it's actually about religion. The most valuable practical wisdom comes from unlikely sources, and it's time we sit up and pay attention to what they can teach us. If you're looking for compelling conversation, blunt talk about culture, religion, romance, and how to navigate life in the machine of modern society, I'll look forward to spending some time with you. I'm Jim Sexton. Unlikely Sources will be available May 28th.