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Duke lacrosse accuser charged with attempted murder

DURHAM, N.C. — This time, Crystal Gail Mangum is the one in custody.

Mangum, 31, known as the accuser in the Duke lacrosse case, was arrested after police say she set her apartment on fire and tried to kill her boyfriend around midnight Wednesday while her three young children and two Durham police officers were in the home.

She is in the Durham County jail in lieu of $1 million bail. Her next scheduled court appearance is Monday.

Screaming was heard in the background as a 911 operator took an emergency call from Mangum's 9-year-old daughter at 11:55 p.m. EST, according to a copy of the recording.

"This is an emergency. I'm at 2220 Lincoln Street," the little girl said. "Please hurry. My mom is going to die."


Durham officers H.P. Thompson and J.S. Tyler arrived within five minutes.

Mangum is accused of scratching, punching and throwing things at her boyfriend, Milton Walker. She also took Walker's clothes, and with everyone still in the home, placed them in a bathtub and lit them on fire, according to arrest warrants.

Light smoke was showing from the home when firefighters arrived. The fire was contained to the bathroom, and the apartment sustained heavy smoke damage. Walker, as well as Mangum's three children, ages 10, 9 and 3, and the officers were not injured.

Mangum resisted arrest, and once in custody, gave the name and birth date of a Marella Mangum, the warrants said.

She faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, five counts of first-degree arson, three counts of misdemeanor child abuse, resisting arrest, identity theft, communicating threats, assault and battery, and injury to personal property.

Her criminal past includes multiple driving infractions and a 2003 conviction for assault on a government official. She served 60 days in jail and two years probation on the assault charge.

Police wouldn't say whether officers had dealt with the couple or handled calls to the home before.

Almost 11 hours after the early-morning domestic incident, Mangum, wearing a white jail jumpsuit, said nothing as she faced District Court Judge Ann E. McKown during her first court appearance.


A public defender argued for $600,000 bail.

"Given what I know about the case so far, a million would certainly be sufficient," McKown said.

Mangum, before being led back to a jail cell, was instructed to stay away from all the victims, including her three children. They're now with a relative.

Her Lincoln Street home is directly across from North Carolina Central University, where as a student, she accused three Duke University lacrosse players of sexual assault during a party in March 2006. State Attorney General Roy Cooper acquitted the three men in 2007. Mangum never faced any charges in the case, which gained international headlines and led to the resignation of former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong after the State Bar charged him with 20 ethics violations.

Duke University had no comment regarding Mangum's arrest.

No one answered the door at the Lincoln Street duplex, where the smell of smoke hung in the air late Thursday morning. Yellow fire line tape flapped in the wind around apartment A.

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