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'He's outside my windows, taunting me': Testimony reveals final phone calls of slain Moorhead woman

Melissa Willcoxon1 / 3
The body of Melissa Willcoxon was found inside this house at 1019 11th Ave. S. in Moorhead. Matt Hellman / The Forum2 / 3
Justin Critt3 / 3

MOORHEAD — Some of the last words spoken by a Moorhead woman before she was killed in the summer of 2016 were aired in a courtroom here on Thursday, Oct. 12.

Melissa Willcoxon, 49, sounded terrified when she spoke on the phone with friends, telling them of a man who would not leave the home where she was staying in south Moorhead.

That's according to several women who testified Thursday at a pretrial hearing for Justin Critt, who is charged in Clay County District Court with second-degree murder and first-degree arson in Willcoxon's death. Firefighters found her remains in the burned-out ruins of the home she had been taking care of while the homeowner was away.

"There was, like, horror in her voice," said Sheena Southerland, recounting how her friend Willcoxon sounded when she phoned Southerland about 4 p.m. on June 28, 2016, the day Willcoxon died.

Southerland said Willcoxon had called her earlier in the day to say a man was harassing her, but that situation was resolved when police showed up.

She said during the later phone call Willcoxon told her the man had returned to the house and Willcoxon told her in a terrified voice: "He's outside my windows, taunting me."

Southerland said she told Willcoxon to call police as had happened earlier in the day, and Southerland said she believed that was what was going to happen.

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"I thought she had called the cops and it was taken care of," Southerland said.

Authorities would return to the house later that day, but in response to a report of a house fire.

Willcoxon's remains were found when authorities searched the burned structure at 1019 11th Ave. S.

Southerland's testimony and that of two other women who talked to Willcoxon by phone on the day the house burned was heard by Judge Michelle Lawson, who will decide whether the testimony will be allowed at trial.

One of the other women who testified Thursday, Cynthia Conner, said she talked to Willcoxon several times by phone that day, and during the calls Willcoxon had her phone on speaker phone so Conner could hear the voice of a man in the background cursing Willcoxon and calling her names.

"He sounded out of his mind. He sounded out of control," Conner said.

A woman named Annie Russell, who described herself as the girlfriend of the owner of the home that burned, testified that she spoke to Willcoxon that day, too.

She said Willcoxon told her that "Justin" was at the house and that Willcoxon seemed upset about him being there.

Lawson said she will rule on the testimony question prior to the start of the trial, which is scheduled to start Dec. 4.

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Dave Olson
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