There were many signs that Oxford school shooter Ethan Crumbley was heading down a dark and violent path, but his parents were too caught up in their own lives to care, the prosecutor in the case told the court on Thursday in a request to keep the Crumbley’s bond at $500,000 each, as the defense was looking to lower it to $100,000 each.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said that James and Jennifer Crumbley knew their son was depressed but they ignored the “red flags” and failed to get him help.
“All they had to do was tell the school that they recently purchased a gun for their son, and asked him where the gun was, open his backpack, or just take him home,” McDonald argued in Thursday’s filing.
“The defendants had information long before Nov. 30 (six months prior to the shooting) that their son’s only friend moved at the end of October, that the family dog died, that their son was sadder than usual, and that he was sending his mother disturbing texts about his state of mind,” the prosecution wrote in a Thursday court filing. “Instead of paying attention to their son and getting him help, they bought him a gun.”
“Their son was torturing animals, even kept a baby bird’s head in a jar on his bedroom floor, which he later took and placed in a school bathroom,” the prosecutor’s filing states. “Meanwhile, the parents were focusing on their own issues, things like extramarital affairs, financial issues and substance abuse.”
McDonald alleges that the Crumbleys spent their time at a barn caring for their horses three to four nights a week for up to three hours at a time, and “seeking other relationships, including (the) mother’s extramarital affairs.”
- McDonald’s filing also stated that on the day of the shooting, Jennifer Crumbley gave misleading statements about the location of the gun that she had purchased for her son for Christmas, including telling her boyfriend that the gun was in her car. Instead, authorities have said, the gun was with her son. And it was her husband who noticed it missing after the shooting and called 911 to report it missing.
- Prosecutors said the Crumbleys kept the gun, purchased four days before the shooting, in an unlocked armoire cupboard. The defense team says the gun was in a locked and hidden location.
The Crumbleys are facing involuntary manslaughter charges in a novel case seeking to hold the parents responsible in part for the death of four students. The defense believes the prosecution will fail to prove their case, and that the prosecutor is charging the parents out of anger in an attempt to send a message to gun owners.
“I want to be really clear that these charges are intended to hold individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also send a message that gun owners have a responsibility. When they fail to uphold that responsibility, there are serious and criminal consequences,” McDonald said.
“Reading the words, ‘Help me’ with a gun, blood everywhere,” McDonald said, ” … that a parent could read those words and know that their son had access to a deadly weapon that they gave him is unconscionable, and I think criminal. It is criminal.”
The bond issue for the Crumbleys is expected to be considered at a January 7 hearing.