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Highway Crash Caused By Homicide Suspect
Highway 120

An early morning crash that snarled traffic on Highway 120 east of Escalon on Tuesday, May 1 has been linked to a homicide in Oakdale.

Escalon police, fire and ambulance crews all responded to the scene of the crash about 8:30 a.m. last Tuesday, on Highway 120 between Steinegul and Seidner roads when two vehicles collided head on.

Authorities have now confirmed that the driver of the car that crashed into an oncoming truck towing a trailer has been arrested on suspicion of homicide.

“We did get confirmation of that fact,” Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello said of William Schendel, 54, of Modesto being the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash as well as the homicide suspect. The driver and passenger in the other vehicle were not seriously injured in the collision.

Authorities on Monday released Schendel’s name and identified him as the suspect in the death of Aimee Crawford, 40, of Oakdale, who was found deceased in her home on Tuesday afternoon, May 1. The scene was in rural Oakdale, in the 13000 block of Horseshoe Road, off Orange Blossom Road.

Emergency responders on the scene of the May 1 crash indicated there were no signs of evasive action taken prior to the collision, fueling speculation that Schendel may have deliberately driven his car into the oncoming traffic. He had to be extricated from his vehicle and had major injuries to both legs and one arm.

The incident took a twist as Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies and emergency personnel were called to the Horseshoe Road home for a report of a deceased adult female found in a home by family members. That call came in shortly after 4 p.m.

Crawford was identified as the victim; Schendel has been identified as her boyfriend.

Homicide detectives responded to the scene and during the investigation identified Schendel as a suspect. He was taken into custody on Thursday, May 3.

He was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail on a single count of murder and was being held without bail. Schendel has a court appearance scheduled for Wednesday, May 9.