By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 12 January 2022 • 10:36
At a bond hearing on Friday, a court heard that the parents of a Michigan mass murder suspect fled on discovering that he was being sought by the police in connection with the shooting. Jennifer and James Crumbley were taken into custody on 4 December.
The couple were arrested in a warehouse in Detroit following the Oxford High School shooting on 30 November that left four students dead.
The couple who have been jailed on four charges each of involuntary manslaughter following their son Ethan Crumbley’s suspected killing of four students and wounding of seven others. Appearing in court the couple sought to have their bail bond reduced from the $500,000 set at their hearing last year. Their application was rejected when it became clear that the couple had run when they heard that their son had been implicated in the shootings.
According to the Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald, the Crumbleys had $6,600 in cash, more than a dozen credit cards and gift cards, and four phones in their possession when they were arrested. She opposed their bail application saying their actions after the shooting suggests the couple pose a flight risk.
Speaking in court Ms McDonald said: “We need to talk about and address what Jennifer and James Crumbley did on November 30, just hours after their son murdered children in school, they started making plans.”
Four hours after the shooting, at 4.42pm on 30 November, Ms McDonald said Ms Crumbley texted a contact that “she needed to sell her horses fast”. They then “drained their son’s bank account”, taking out $3,000 and leaving 99 cents. They reportedly checked into a hotel across the street from a police station the next morning, where discussions continued about the sale of their horses for a possible sum of $5,000.
They were supposed to turn themselves in on 3 December, but at 9am on 2 December, the prosecutor said $2,000 was removed from their bank account.
Ms McDonald said: “Text messages and testimony will reveal that the Crumbleys expected to be criminally charged the next day”, adding that they left the hotel at 9.30am on 3 December, leaving a car behind in the parking lot.
The sale of the horses was concluded around 10am by Jennifer Crumbley who took out another $4,000 that same day. They are then said to have contacted her friend Andrzej Sikora, an artist who had the studio in Detroit, telling him that they needed “a place to sit”. Ms Skiora has not been charged as part of the investigation.
The Crumbleys apparently did not leave the building other than to smoke and at one point to move their car so that the licence plate was not visible. On the day they were due to appear the Crumbleys asked Sikora to go get vodka, orange juice, and some bedding for them, only to be arrested the following day.
Their defence team has argued that the couple did not flee but that there had been some miscommunication, saying that defence attorneys were unavailable at that time.
Defence lawyer Mariell Lehman said: “Prior to being charged and arrested, they had received and been made aware of a plethora of threats to their lives and to their safety and had to leave their home. The sale of their home has been necessary as it is no longer a safe location for them to live, but it has nothing to do with a flight risk.”
The defence argued that the miscommunication along with the Crumbleys’ fear prompted them to leave their home and head to Detroit.
Ms McDonald said the Crumbleys didn’t answer calls from their lawyers and didn’t contact law enforcement, despite being across the street from a police station at their hotel. The arrest was the first time police had got ahold of the Crumbleys.
A hearing to determine if the Crumbleys will go to trial will be held on 8 February.
The charges against their son Ethan Crumbley include first-degree murder and terror. His probable cause hearing and preliminary exam were waived on Friday, with 15-year-old to be tried as an adult.
Four students died during the shooting on 30 November, Hana St Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, and Justin Shilling, 17.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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