January 22, 2022

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Parents of Oxford High suspect returning to area to face charges, lawyers say – The Detroit News

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Pontiac — The lawyers for the parents of the Oxford High teenager charged in Tuesday’s school shooting said Friday that James and Jennifer Crumbley are returning to the area to be arraigned on charges of involuntary manslaughter.

The Oakland County Fugitive Apprehension Team was searching Friday for the parents of Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old Oxford High sophomore charged with first-degree murder of four students and other criminal charges, after county Undersheriff Mike McCabe said the couple had stopped responding to their attorney.

“On Thursday night, we contacted the Oakland County prosecutor to discuss this matter and to advise her that James and Jennifer Crumbley would be turning themselves in to be arraigned,” lawyers Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman told The Detroit News. “Instead of communicating with us, the prosecutor held a press conference to announce charges.”

“The Crumbleys left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety. They are returning to the area to be arraigned. They are not fleeing from law enforcement despite recent comments in media reports.”

James and Jennifer Crumbley of Oxford were named in criminal warrants Friday, with each being charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of four Oxford High School students who were allegedly slain by their son. They also were named in a noon press conference held by Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald to announce the charges.

James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of Oxford shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley, appear via video feed at their son’s Wednesday arraignment. He is charged with multiple counts as the alleged Oxford High School shooter.

Their case is charged in 52-3 District Court in Rochester Hills, and an arraignment is tentatively set for 4 p.m. Friday.

“Their attorney had assured us that if a decision was made to charge them, she would produce them for arrest,” McCabe said Friday. 

That agreement with attorney Smith was sometime in the morning, McCabe said around 2 p.m. Friday.

“Our last conversation with the attorney was that she had been trying to reach them by phone and text, and they were not responding,” he said. 

McCabe said Fugitive Apprehension Team officers were out searching for the couple as of mid-afternoon Friday. The Crumbleys own a 2021 black Kia Seltos with the license plate DQG5203 and a 2019 white Kia Soul Station Wagon with the license plate DZH8994, according to the sheriff’s office and Secretary of State records.

McCabe said a conversation was initiated by the parents’ attorney Friday morning when it was announced the prosecutor was holding a press conference to announce whether a decision had been made to charge anyone else in the deaths.

“We didn’t even know they had been charged with anything until we were informed this morning by the media,” McCabe said.

McDonald laid out numerous reasons for her decision, including the father’s purchase of the handgun, which was a Christmas gift for their son, and a meeting at the school in which they were shown a graphic drawing made by their son depicting a shooting victim. Each count is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“I have spoken to (victims’ parents) and indicated what charges were coming,” McDonald said at her Friday noon press conference. “These parents are deep in grief.

“I have tremendous compassion and empathy for parents with children who are struggling, for whatever reason,” she added. “But the facts in this case are so egregious. The notion that a parent could read those words, and also know their son had access to a deadly weapon.”

The Crumbleys’ son, Ethan, has been charged as an adult with one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He faces up to life in prison without parole if convicted. 

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

Staff Writer James Dickson contributed.

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