Janesville police link stabbing suspect to body found Monday

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Frank Schultz
Tuesday, May 6, 2014

JANESVILLE--Clayton J. Courtney is accused of killing one friend and trying to kill another Sunday night.

The friend who survived, Michael Clark, described Courtney as tearing off cabinet doors and pulling a refrigerator to the floor at the Janesville home they shared before stabbing Clark in the back, according to a criminal complaint issued Tuesday.

“You and I are going to die tonight,” Courtney said during the attack, according to Clark,

Courtney, 28, of 1602 N. Pontiac Drive, Janesville, made his initial appearance in Rock County Court on Tuesday.

The court hearing came shortly after police announced they had identified the body of a woman found behind a vacant building on North Main Street on Monday.

The woman was 21-year-old Britney N. Cross of Indianford, and Courtney is the only suspect in her killing, Police Chief Dave Moore said at a standing-room-only news conference.

During the assault on Clark, Courtney told him, “I have already killed three people tonight,” the criminal complaint states.

Police still are investigating the possibility that Courtney killed others, but they have no new reports of missing people or other indicators of more bodies, a fact Moore called “encouraging.”

News conference: Chief ID's body found in Janesville (23:02)
Watch the full Janesville police news conference announcing the identity of the body found Monday.

Still, Moore asked community members to report any suspicious activity that might be related to the case.

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

Moore said police continue to look for Mary Coulthard, the 75-year-old who was last seen Friday.

Moore said his investigators have found no parallel between Courtney's and Coulthard's movements.

Deputy Police Chief Dan Davis said later he doesn't believe Coulthard's case is related to Courtney.

Under the bridge

Witnesses have linked Cross and Courtney.

“I don't think they were exclusive, but friends described them as boyfriend/girlfriend,” Moore said.

Clark told police Courtney left their Pontiac Drive home at about 4 p.m. Sunday on his way to the Veterans Memorial Bridge to be with Cross.

Courtney is known to hang out under the bridge and drink liquor, according to the complaint.

Police earlier said they heard Courtney had intended to meet a woman and drink and do drugs under the bridge. They also said Courtney was under the influence of cocaine and alcohol when he attacked his roommates later that night.

Cross' body was found behind a vacant building at 533 N. Main St., south of Traxler Park.

Good friends

Jessica Moe, the mother of Clark's two children and who was pregnant with a third, also lived in the Pontiac Drive house. Courtney had been living with the couple for about two months.

The three adults had known each other for about 12 years, and Clark and Courtney were “extremely good friends,” Moe said, according to the complaint.

The complaint gives no hint of why Courtney would have attacked his friends, and Moore said Clark did not know. 

Courtney is not talking to police, Moore said.

Police have not developed a motive in the stabbing, although Moore would not rule out drugs as a factor.

“Cocaine … produces numerous psychiatric symptoms, syndromes and disorders (including) agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, violence, as well as suicidal and homicidal thinking,” according to the National Institutes of Health.

Police also have no motive in Cross' death.

Cross, 8985 First Street, No. 9, Indianford, died from a blow to the head from a blunt object, Moore said.

Moore said police collected objects at the death scene that might have been used to kill Cross. He would not describe them.

The complaint in the stabbing case says a rock was found in Courtney's pocket when he was arrested after running from police.

Terror at night

Moe and Clark told a horrific tale of Courtney's attack on both of them Sunday night. According to the criminal complaint:

The couple were asleep when Courtney returned home. Moe heard loud noises and woke Clark, who went to investigate.

Moe said she could hear Clark say, “What's wrong with you? What's your problem?”

Then she heard Clark calling for her to call 911. She left the bedroom and saw Clark standing in the dining room with Courtney attacking him. She could see blood on the floor and saw Courtney throw things from the kitchen counter to the floor. She told him to leave.

Courtney then pushed Moe, and she ran to the bathroom, locking herself inside. She quickly left the bathroom and ran to the bedroom, locking herself inside with her children. She still could hear Clark and Courtney as they went into the garage and the fight continued.

Clark told police he believed his friend intended to kill him.

Clark's perspective

Clark said a loud crash woke him. He went into the dining room and saw Courtney rip a door off some cabinets and then pulled dishes and glasses from the cabinets to the floor.

Courtney then punched Clark in the face, said he had killed three people, and “I'm going to kill you, and we're going to die together,” according to the complaint.

Courtney grabbed a steak knife and thrust towards what Clark believed was his chest, so Clark rolled to his left, and the knife entered the back of his right shoulder near the armpit, the complaint states.

Courtney then threw down the refrigerator and continued damaging the house.

Clark yelled for Courtney to stop and for Moe to call 911.

“The defendant responded by grabbing the knife with which he had just stabbed Mr. Clark and said to Ms. Moe, “I'll cut out your baby,” the complaint states.

Courtney then moved toward Moe, but Clark used the tipped-over refrigerator to trip him. Courtney then grabbed a broken plate and stabbed Clark's foot with it.

The two men went into the garage, where Courtney opened a door to Clark's and Moe's car and tried to kick the door off its hinges. Clark protested.

“What does it matter? You and I are going to die tonight, anyway,” Courtney responded, according to the complaint.

The two wrestled. Clark tried to open the garage door in hopes police were there. They were. Courtney closed the door, but officers entered from another door.

Blood everywhere

Police were called to the house at 10:01 p.m. Sunday. Moe called 911, saying she was locked in the bedroom with her children and Courtney was “going crazy” and assaulting Clark.

Police saw the garage door open 18 inches and then close. Moe then opened the front door for them.

An officer entered the kitchen, seeing large amounts of food and blood on the walls and floors. He entered the garage and saw two shirtless men covered in blood, the complaint states.

Clark was bleeding heavily from his shoulder. The officer ordered both men to the ground. Clark went down, but Courtney hit the garage door button and ran outside.

Another officer spotted Courtney and chased him down, yelling, “Stop or you will be Tased.”

Courtney immediately lay on the ground.

Clark was taken to Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center, which released him Monday.

The case

Courtney might not face formal charges related to Cross' death right away. Moore pointed out that Courtney remains in jail in the stabbing case, so the homicide investigation can continue without worrying that Courtney would disappear.

Courtney is charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, obstructing an officer, attempted arson for allegedly trying to set Moe's car on fire, first-degree recklessly endangering safety, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct with a dangerous weapon and obstructing an officer.

All but the first two of those charges carries a domestic-violence enhancer.

In court Tuesday, Court Commissioner Stephen Meyer set bail at $100,000, a sum the prosecution asked for and that Courtney's attorney said he had no chance of posting.

Courtney's initial appearance was continued to 3 p.m. Friday so he could arrange for an attorney to represent him.

The Gazette reported live from the Janesville police news conference via Twitter. Read those posts below.

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