NEW LONDON, Conn. -- A forensic expert in the murder trial of a former airline pilot charged with putting his wife's body in a wood chipper postively identified a tooth fragment Thursday as belonging to the missing woman.
The testimony was the first evidence directly linking bits of hair, flesh and teeth found along the banks of the Housatonic River to Helle Crafts, 39, a former airline stewardess, whose body has never been found.
Richard Crafts, 50, a former Eastern Airlines pilot, is charged with killing his Danish-born wife after she threatened to divorce him, and then disposing of her body with a chainsaw and a rented wood chipper.
Constantine Karazulas, a forensic dentist from Bridgeport, told the jury he was certain that a tooth fragment and gold crown found in a pile of wood chips belonged to Helle Crafts.
'Those X-rays of Helle Crafts were taken of her teeth and I am certain that those teeth that I X-rayed and whose images I matched belong to Helle Crafts,' said Karazulas.
He testified he made the identification by comparing X-rays of the specimens to X-rays taken before the woman disappeared.
Karazulas said the tooth was ripped out with the root and part of the victim's gum.
Defense attorney J. Daniel Sagarin described the X-ray comparison process as inaccurate.
The body of Helle Crafts was never officially found, but the state medical examiner's office declared her dead Jan. 13, 1987, the same day her husband was charged with murder in the case.
The trial was moved to New London near the Rhode Island border from Danbury in the western part of the state because of pretrial publicity.