Former AG: Craig Price needs to remain in prison

Craig Price

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Craig Price, one of Rhode Island’s most notorious killers, has once again been accused of assault behind bars.

Price was 15 years old when he admitted he stabbed to death 39-year-old Joan Heaton and her two daughters, 10-year-old Jennifer and 8-year-old Melissa, in 1989. He also confessed to the murder of 27-year-old Rebecca Spencer two years earlier.

“The crime scene was just beyond one’s imagination,” said former Rhode Island Attorney General Jim O’Neil.

At the time, Rhode Island law stated Price would be freed from prison in 1995, when he turned 21. But, the now 43-year-old is still serving time for a patchwork of infractions including contempt of court and other incidents while behind bars.

On Tuesday, Price allegedly stabbed an inmate at a Florida prison, according to J.R. Ventura, a spokesperson for the R.I. Department of Corrections.

Jim O’Neil, a former Rhode Island Attorney General, said Price exhibits a “troubling” character.

“His conduct since he’s been incarcerated continually demonstrates that he represents a threat to society, in my judgment,” continued O’Neil. “He’s been involved in numerous, not altercations — serious assaults — as far as I can recall.”

O’Neil was about two years into his career as attorney general when Price admitted to the crimes. He said the killings of two women and two children, “struck his heart.” O’Neil vowed to do his best “to make sure he [Price] stays in prison beyond the age of 21.” 

In light of this most recent accusation of assault, O’Neil told Eyewitness News it only further proved a point he made years ago.

“I try to be even-handed. I’m not a capital punishment guy, or anything like that.” he said. “I’m not one to stand on the top of a soap box and scream bloody murder. He’s just somebody that has got to remain in custody. It’s as simple as that.”