Police: DNA links Clayton Courtney to murder of Britney Cross

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Neil Johnson
Thursday, June 19, 2014

JANESVILLE—Police have found DNA and personal property they say link Clayton J. Courtney to the killing of Britney Cross, whose body police found along the Rock River in May.

One of the items police found at the crime scene: a small Bible that police believe Courtney left behind.   

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Janesville police released details in the Thursday arrest of Courtney, 28, Janesville. He was arrested in the killing of Cross, 21, who lived in Indianford. Police found Cross dead May 5 behind a vacant building along the river.

Cross apparently had been bludgeoned to death and died of a blunt-force injury to the head, police said. 

In a prepared statement Thursday, Deputy Chief Dan Davis said police at the crime scene found a pocket-sized Bible, a baseball cap and a T-shirt known to belong to Courtney.

Davis said blood on Courtney's pants matches Cross' DNA, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin crime lab made available to police Thursday.

Courtney will appear in Rock County Court on Friday afternoon on a charge of first-degree intentional homicide, police said.

Police said they recovered potential weapons in Cross' killing. At the press conference, Lt. Keith Lawver said police found several 4-inch to 5-inch rocks at the crime scene, one of which they believe could have been used to bludgeon Cross.

Police said they aren't sure of a motive for the brutal killing.

Lawver said police have theories of a possible motive, but he wouldn't give details.

The arrest ties the killing to a rampage police say Courtney went on May 4.

Courtney, 28, already was in custody on a charge of attempted first-degree intentional homicide after authorities say he stabbed Michael Clark on May 4 at the house they shared with the mother of Clark's two children at 1602 N. Pontiac Drive.

Courtney is alleged to have said during the fight that he had already killed three people.

He was wearing bloody pants and was covered with mud and blood when he was arrested May 4, police said. 

Early the next morning, police found Cross' body behind a building at 533 N. Main St.

Police earlier said they'd learned Courtney and Cross were in a relationship. The two were thought to be under or near the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Janesville in the hours leading up to Cross' death. 

Several witnesses said they saw Courtney and Cross together at Traxler Park late in the afternoon on May 4, police said Thursday.

It's not clear if those witnesses saw events that led up to or included Cross' killing.

 Courtney already faces charges of obstructing an officer and four domestic-abuse charges: first-degree recklessly endangering safety, attempted arson, criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct while armed during the May 4 fight on Pontiac Drive.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges related to the stabbing incident last month in Rock County Court.

Police detectives have interviewed Courtney “several times” since his arrest May 4. Davis said police haven't been able to confirm Courtney's claim that he killed three people.

Lawver said Courtney's statements during interviews have led police to question whether his earlier claims are true.

Davis and Lawver said they haven't been able to link Courtney to another woman, Mary Coulthard, a who disappeared May 3, and was later found dead in the Rock river south of downtown Janesville.

They said evidence in the Coulthard case is being reviewed by the state crime lab.

Courtney has denied involvement in that case, Davis said.

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