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Walworth County Sunday | Janesville Messenger | Stateline News

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Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00

Motive for attacks that left one friend dead and another injured unclear

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Investigators search for clues along the Rock River on Monday afternoon, just south of the Memorial Street Bridge, near where the body of 21-year-old Britney Cross of Indianford was discovered that morning. Clayton J. Courtney, 28, of Janesville, is the lone suspect in her killing, according to police. Investigators search for clues along the Rock River on Monday afternoon, just south of the Memorial Street Bridge, near where the body of 21-year-old Britney Cross of Indianford was discovered that morning. Clayton J. Courtney, 28, of Janesville, is the lone suspect in her killing, according to police. Dan Plutchak/staff

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- A missing woman, a brutal knife attack and a young woman senselessly killed -- those three cases kept investigators working around the clock last week searching for answers.

For two of the cases, the investigation led to 28-year-old Clayton J. Courtney of Janesville.

Courtney was charged Tuesday in the knife attack of the two friends that he lived with, and he is the lone suspect in the killing of 21-year-old Britney Cross of Indianford, who police say is a one-time girlfriend of Courtney’s.

Last Sunday evening, while investigators were searching for clues in the disappearance of 75-year-old Mary Coulthard who was reported missing a day earlier, officers were called to a residence on Pontiac Drive to break up a fight.

When police arrived, they discovered a 28-year-old man who had been stabbed several times. He was transported to Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville for treatment of the stab wounds, one of which was described by doctors as near fatal.

A 32-year-old woman also was at the residence, with her two small children. None of them were injured.

The assailant, police say, was Courtney, who shared the apartment with his friend and the woman who is the mother of Courtney’s friend’s children. The three had known each other for 12 years and considered each other good friends, according to court documents.

Police don’t know why Courtney turned on the couple, but when Courtney arrived back at the apartment he attacked both friends.

The woman was able to lock herself in a bedroom, where she called 911.

At one point during the altercation, Courtney allegedly said, "I’ve already killed three people tonight. We are all going to die."

When police arrived, Courtney attempted to flee, but was soon apprehended. He complained of an ankle injury and was transported to Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center.

That’s where police photographed Courtney, who smiled eerily into the camera with a mud-splashed face. The photo traveled quickly on social media and showed Courtney with a tattoo on his neck that read "pure hate."

As violent as the altercation was, what investigators learned was even more troubling.

As police began piecing together Courtney’s movements throughout the evening, they learned he might have been in the area of the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge drinking and doing drugs with a female friend under the bridge -- they believe that friend was Cross.

When police began their search of the area Monday, they discovered her body behind a vacant building at  533 N. Main St., south of Traxler Park. She died from a blunt force blow to the head, police say.

At a Tuesday news conference, Police Chief Dave Moore said Courtney was the only suspect in Cross’ death.

The news shocked neighbors in the tight-knit community of Indianford, just south of Edgerton. Cross was remembered as a steadfast friend, a free spirit who wore a peace-sign pendant and called people she loved "groovy," according to news reports.

Courtney made his first court appearance Tuesday, where he was charged with the knife attack. He is being held on $100,000 cash bond, keeping him off the street as investigators continued to piece together that last hours of Cross’ life.

Police are continuing their investigation.

   "What I can tell you is that he said he killed people," Moore said, "and we have a dead young woman in this community."

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