January 26, 2022

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Parents of Michigan school shooter failed to act after teachers showed them he’d drawn GUN – Daily Mail

9 min read

Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old accused of going on a rampage and killing four of his fellow students at Oxford High School in Michigan, was ‘intent on violence,’ prosecutors revealed Thursday.

The most troubling piece of evidence revealed was a drawing of a gun on a math homework sheet with the messages: ‘My life is useless,’ ‘Blood everywhere’ and ‘The thoughts won’t stop, help me.’ 

It’s part of Oakland County prosecutors’ attempt to paint his parents, James and Jennifer, both 43, as neglectful and aware of Ethan’s potential for violence. The prosecutors’ filings include allegations that Ethan’s mother was carrying on an affair while ignoring her son’s spiral and had texted her boyfriend about the murder weapon.

School counselors showed Crumbley’s parents messages and drawings just hours before he fatally shot four and injured seven others on November 30. 

Their son had allegedly drawn the messages earlier that morning and a teacher had found them, took a screenshot and got in touch with a counselor. 

It’s part of a pattern of signs that prosecutors accuse the Crumbleys of ignoring over the past six months suggesting that their teenager needed help. 

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald revealed two versions of a screenshot of Ethan Crumbley's drawings in a filing Thursday. In the first drawing, pictured, Ethan writes several troubling messages, such as 'My life is useless,' 'Blood everywhere' and 'The thoughts won't stop, help me.'

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald revealed two versions of a screenshot of Ethan Crumbley’s drawings in a filing Thursday. In the first drawing, pictured, Ethan writes several troubling messages, such as ‘My life is useless,’ ‘Blood everywhere’ and ‘The thoughts won’t stop, help me.’

Pictured: A second piece of homework that Ethan allegedly altered crosses out other disturbing messages and adds ones like 'video game this is,' 'we're all friends here,' 'harmless act,' 'I love my life so much!!!!' and 'OHS rocks!'

Pictured: A second piece of homework that Ethan allegedly altered crosses out other disturbing messages and adds ones like ‘video game this is,’ ‘we’re all friends here,’ ‘harmless act,’ ‘I love my life so much!!!!’ and ‘OHS rocks!’

Ethan, 15, (center) is charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and aggravated assault for the deadly shooting at Oxford High School on November 30 that killed four students and injured several others.  James, 45, (left) and Jennifer, 43, (right) have each been jailed on $500,000 bond since their arrest on December 4

Ethan, 15, (center) is charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and aggravated assault for the deadly shooting at Oxford High School on November 30 that killed four students and injured several others.  James, 45, (left) and Jennifer, 43, (right) have each been jailed on $500,000 bond since their arrest on December 4

Jennifer Crumbley being escorted out of the courtroom on December 14

James Crumbley leaves the courtroom on December 14

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald has charged James and Jennifer Crumbley in a rare move to hold the parents of an accused school shooter accountable

The Crumbleys' lawyers allege the parents were unaware that Ethan, 15 (pictured in court on December 13), was a danger to other students and are 'devastated by the school shooting'

The Crumbleys’ lawyers allege the parents were unaware that Ethan, 15 (pictured in court on December 13), was a danger to other students and are ‘devastated by the school shooting’

They say that Jennifer and James ‘failed to take even the simplest actions that would have prevented the massacre’ in court documents. 

Prosecutors also point out that the parents had recently bought Ethan a gun.

The Crumbleys ‘knew their son was depressed, that he was fascinated with guns… that he had been researching ammunition while at a school and that he was seen watching violent videos of shootings that morning,’ prosecutors said, but they purchased the gun for Ethan as an early Christmas present anyway 

‘All they had to do was tell the school that they had recently purchased a gun for their son, asked him where the gun was, opened his backpack or just take him home,’ the prosecution alleges. ‘Defendants were in a better position than anyone else in the world to prevent this tragedy, but they failed to do so.’ 

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald revealed two versions of the photo in the filing. A second version that Ethan allegedly altered crosses out the disturbing messages and adds ones like ‘video game this is,’ ‘we’re all friends here,’ ‘harmless act,’ ‘I love my life so much!!!!’ and ‘OHS rocks!’

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald has been leading the county's case against the Crumbleys

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald has been leading the county’s case against the Crumbleys

The Oakland County Prosecutors' Office submitted filings Thursday in an attempt to keep the Crumbleys' bond at $500,000

The Oakland County Prosecutors’ Office submitted filings Thursday in an attempt to keep the Crumbleys’ bond at $500,000

McDonald argued that instead of caring for their son, the Crumbleys spent time with their horses and Jennifer pursued an extramarital affair.  

Prosecutors allege Jennifer Crumbley had told her boyfriend the day of the shooting that the alleged murder weapon had been in her car. 

The filings are part of a response by McDonald to keep Ethan’s parents in jail on $500,000 bond. 

James, 45, and Jennifer, 43, have each been jailed on $500,000 bond since their arrest on December 4. In Wednesday’s filing, defense attorneys Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman asked that their bond be lowered to $100,000 each and said the couple would wear electronic monitors if released from jail.   

McDonald, however, counters that the Crumbleys are a flight risk. They’re also behind on house payments to the tune of $11,000 and are trying to sell their assets, included horses and their home.  

Ethan is charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and aggravated assault for the deadly shooting at Oxford High School on November 30 that killed four students and injured several others.

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald charged James and Jennifer Crumbley in a rare move to hold the parents of an accused school shooter accountable.  

James and Jennifer are accused of making a gun accessible to Ethan and for failing to pull him out of school when summoned about his cryptic writings before the shooting on November 30. 

Their lawyers allege that the Crumbleys were unaware Ethan was a danger to other students and are ‘devastated by the school shooting.’ 

Prosecutors have argued that a ‘don’t do it’ text Jennifer sent Ethan the day of the shooting proves she knew what was going on.

Defense attorneys said Jennifer was urging him not to kill himself, and not in reference to the deadly shooting that unfolded, her lawyers allege.

In a court filing seeking lower bond for parents Jennifer and James Crumbley, their attorneys claim the text Jennifer sent Ethan, 15, was a plea not to commit suicide following the shooting that had already taken place and is not an indication the couple knew of their son’s plans. 

In Wednesday’s filing, the defense argued that the prosecution will be unable to prove Jennifer and James knew Ethan would take the gun they bought him as an early Christmas to his high school and fire at other members of the community.

‘The prosecution will not be able to prove that the Crumbleys … knew their son was a danger to other students, or that they knew there was a situation that required them to take care to avoid injuring another,’ the lawyers wrote.

‘The last thing they expected was that a school shooting would take place, or that their son would be responsible

Also, for the first time, the defense shared how James and Jennifer felt following the shooting.

‘The Crumbleys, like every parent and community member, are devastated by the school shooting,’ the court filing alleges. ‘This situation is entirely devastating.’ 

The defense also noted there are community members who would ‘vouch for the Crumbleys’ but who wish to remain anonymous due to the ‘overwhelming media attention’ surrounding the case. 

The legal team offered to provide the names of those individuals privately to the judge and prosecution. 

Their attorneys argued the charges against the parents are ‘inappropriate’ and the case will raise ‘unprecedented legal issues.’

‘It is clear from the media appearances by Ms. McDonald that this case is one she takes very personally, was filed out of anger and filed in an effort to send a message to gun owners,’ the defense stated in court documents.

In Wednesday's filing, the defense argued the prosecution will be unable to prove Jennifer and James knew Ethan would take the gun they bought him as an early Christmas to his high school (pictured) and fire at other members of the academic community

In Wednesday’s filing, the defense argued the prosecution will be unable to prove Jennifer and James knew Ethan would take the gun they bought him as an early Christmas to his high school (pictured) and fire at other members of the academic community

In an effort to stress their point, the attorneys cited statements McDonald made about the case in a Dec. 18 interview with NPR: 

‘I absolutely acknowledge that it hasn’t been done before, though I didn’t know that at the time,’ McDonald said, according to the filing. 

‘I did receive pushback, but prosecutors don’t like to do things for the first time, and they also don’t like to do things that might result in a ‘not guilty.”

The Crumbleys, like their son, are being held at the Oakland County Jail. 

They were arrested on Dec. 4 after the U.S. Marshals offered a $10,000 bounty for information leading to their capture. Their absence prompted a manhunt involving several agencies, including the Marshals’ Fugitive Task Force, state police and the FBI.

Law enforcement sources say the couple withdrew $4,000 from an ATM and were last seen around 2-3 pm shortly before the 4pm deadline to turn themselves in. 

Smith said they had planned to appear the next day at a different court handling Saturday arraignments and were not trying to flee.

‘It should be noted that the Crumbleys would not have retained (us) if their plans were to flee,’ Smith and Lehman wrote in the filing. 

A bond hearing for the parents has been set for Jan. 7. 

McDonald has said she would oppose a lower bond. The Crumbleys were arrested at a Detroit art studio less than a mile from the Canadian border, hours after their charges were announced and they failed to appear in court on December 3. 

Meantime, Jennifer’s text message to Ethan only added fuel to the narrative surrounding the parents’ alleged knowledge of the shooting. 

Before the shooting, Jennifer bragged on social media about going out with her son to test his Christmas present – a 9mm handgun – just three days before the shooting and just one day after her husband, James, had purchased the gun for Ethan

According to authorities, Ethan was seen in class browsing for ammunition on his cellphone a day before the massacre.

When Jennifer was made aware of her son’s ‘inappropriate’ web search researching firearm ammunition while at school, she texted him: ‘LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.’ She never responded to the school’s message about the ‘inappropriate internet search.’

Hours before the school shooting begun, the Crumbleys were called to the school to discuss Ethan’s disturbing behavior including drawings depicting a gun, a bullet, blood everywhere, a shooting victim and a laughing emoji.

The note included the words: ‘Thoughts won’t stop, help me’; ‘my life is useless’ and ‘the world is dead,’ McDonald said. After the meeting, the Crumbleys left their son to finish the day at school when he opened fire on his classmates and teachers.   

Both Crumbleys have pled not guilty to all four charges of involuntary manslaughter – one for each Oxford High School student who was killed. Each count is punishable by up to 15 years in prison along with a $7,500 fine and mandatory DNA testing. 

Their 15-year-old son is accused of killing Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17, and injuring several others after opening fire in the school. Ethan was charged as an adult with two dozen crimes, including murder, attempted murder and terrorism, and is being held at the same jail as his parents.  

Madisyn Baldwin, 17

Hana St Juliana, 14

Madisyn Baldwin, 17, (left) and Hana St Juliana, 14, (right) died in a shooting rampage at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit 

Justin Shilling died in the hospital

Tate Myre died at the school

Justin Shilling, 17, (left) died in the hospital the morning after the shooting and Tate Myre (right) died in the school on November 30

‘These two individuals could have stopped it and had every reason to know he was dangerous,’ McDonald told the judge during the Crumbleys’ arraignment. She claimed that not one person in the community would vouch in favor of either Crumbley.

But Smith denied that James and Jennifer had any responsibility for their son’s alleged crimes. She adamantly declared that it is ‘absolutely not true’ that they gave their child ‘free access’ to the weapon he used to kill several students at his Michigan high school.

The Crumbleys appeared in court on December 14 for a 20 minute hearing and asked to reschedule the preliminary exam which was scheduled for Wednesday. The court was adjourned until next month. 

The hearing concluded with Judge Julie Nicholson granting a request by prosecutors and defense lawyers to postpone until February 8 a key preliminary hearing that will determine whether the Crumbleys will face a trial.  

McDonald said she needs more time to collect a ‘staggering’ amount of evidence from investigators and share it with the defense.

The Crumbleys appeared in court on December 14 for a 20 minute hearing and asked to reschedule the preliminary exam which was scheduled for Wednesday. The court was adjourned until next month

 The Crumbleys appeared in court on December 14 for a 20 minute hearing and asked to reschedule the preliminary exam which was scheduled for Wednesday. The court was adjourned until next month

The Crumbleys will all spend the holidays in jail pending a bond hearing for the parents in January (Pictured: James Crumbley being escort out of the courtroom on December 14)

The Crumbleys will all spend the holidays in jail pending a bond hearing for the parents in January (Pictured: James Crumbley being escort out of the courtroom on December 14)

‘We have police narratives, we have digital evidence, we have video evidence,’ McDonald later told reporters. ‘We have viewed a lot of it, certainly enough to establish charges here. But there’s also more investigation that needs to be done.’ 

In explaining her decision to seek the delay, the district attorney said she wants to give witnesses ‘time to heal’ through the holiday season before subjecting them to interviews as part of the ongoing investigation, the Detroit Free Press reported.

McDonald added that she and her prosecutors ‘owe it to the victims’ to go through every single piece of evidence and ‘do this right.’  She says that the hearing will involve 15-20 witnesses and last 3-5 days.

The couple did not speak, beyond acknowledging, when asked, that they understood and were waiving their right to a speedy preliminary exam, and confirmed that they wished to continue being represented together by their two attorneys.  

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