Police: DNA on boyfriend’s pants matched Britney Cross

Clayton Courtney arrested in connection with Janesville homicide case
Police: DNA on boyfriend’s pants matched Britney Cross
Britney Cross

Police said Thursday afternoon that the boyfriend of a woman found dead in Janesville last month has been charged with murder in her death.

Britney Cross, 21, of Edgerton, was found dead near the Rock River on May 5. She died of blunt impact head injury.

During a news conference, Janesville Police Deputy Chief Dan Davis 28-year-old Clayton Courtney was arrested at Rock County Jail Thursday afternoon.

Police said detectives arrested Courtney Thursday afternoon after the Wisconsin State Crime Lab confirmed that DNA in blood found on Courtney’s pants when he was arrested in an unrelated case matched that of Cross.

Courtney was arrested on suspicion of attempted first-degree reckless homicide, attempted arson, criminal damage and disorderly conduct for an incident at a Pontiac Drive home the night before Cross’ body was discovered. It was found behind a former furniture store at 533 N. Main St. at 5:45 a.m.

Courtney’s arrest Thursday was on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide in Cross’ death.

Courtney was the lone suspect in the Cross case. Police said several items belonging to Courtney, including a baseball cap, shirt and pocket-sized Bible that he was known to regularly carry, were found at the crime scene. Witnesses also told police that Courtney and Cross were seen together in Traxler Park May 4 near where Cross’ body was found.

Cross’ body was discovered by officers as they were searching the area after a separate stabbing incident that they said involved Courtney was believed to be in the area of the Rock River near the Memorial Street Bridge. Courtney had told others he was going to drink and do drugs with a female friend under the bridge, police said.

Police said they believe Courtney killed Cross and then went back to his residence and attacked his roommate.

Lt. Keith Lawver said detectives are still examining evidence to determine what was used to kill Cross.

“We found several items at the scene that may have been used as a murder weapon,” Lawver said. “We believe one of the rocks that we found may have been used.”

Police said a motive for the suspected murder was not yet clear.

After his arrest for the suspected attack on his roommate, Courtney made statements to police that he “killed three people.” At the news conference, Davis said detectives can’t prove the statement untrue but were able to disprove some of the details Courtney made in relation to his claim.

“We have interviewed Mr. Courtney several times since his first arrest and have not been able to confirm his prior claim that he killed three people,” Davis said.

Davis also said officers have not been able to link Courtney to the death of Mary Coulthard, whose body was found May 9 in the Rock River.

Michael Clark is Courtney’s former roommate, and the one police believe Courtney attacked and nearly stabbed to death after killing Cross. Clark said he’s worried about his family’s safety, but with the latest charge, he doesn’t think he has to be concerned about that for a while.

“I was relieved. I wasn’t sure how long it would take,” Clark said.

Clark told News 3 he is concerned about his longtime friend’s suicidal tendencies. While detectives told Clark that Courtney has shown little remorse for any actions he may have taken, Clark said he doesn’t know what Courtney will do when and if he is convicted.

“He was in love with her. He wanted to marry her and have kids with her and all of that stuff,” Clark said. “So why would he do something like that? That’s the only thing, but I think it’s one of those cases that it’s so bizarre that you’ll never know the motive kind of thing.”

Courtney is expected in to appear in court Friday at 3 p.m.