The parents of Ethan Crumbley ignored troubling signs surrounding their 15-year-old son for months before he allegedly opened fire, killing four students and wounding seven others at his Detroit-area high school last month, according to prosecutors.
“[Jennifer and James Crumbley] 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 said in a Thursday filing. "The evidence will further show that these Defendants willfully ignored the needs and well-being of their son and the threat he posed to others."
McDonald pointed to a number of emotional incidents in Ethan Crumbley's life, including a friend moving away, their dog dying, and a series of "disturbing texts" as preliminary evidence of his "state of mind" and argues that "instead of paying attention to their son and getting him help, [Jennifer and James] bought him a gun."
The prosecution alleges Jennifer and James Crumbley were aware of the gun's location in an unlocked armoire cupboard. Police and the prosecution also claim Ethan Crumbley was seen in class searching for ammunition on his phone a day before the shooting on Nov. 30.
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Jennifer Crumbley had given misleading statements about the location of the gun she had bought for Ethan, including that it was in her car, McDonald said in her filing. James Crumbley later noticed the missing firearm and called 911 to report it, authorities said.
The filing provided the court access to the sketches Ethan Crumbley produced. According to the prosecution, a teacher had spotted the drawing, confiscated a picture, and contacted a counselor about it. The counselor summoned Ethan Crumbley and his parents to a meeting. By this time, Ethan had modified his picture.
The first copy of the worksheet included sketches of firearms, ammunition, and a shooting victim alongside messages such as "My life is useless," "Blood everywhere," and "The thoughts won't stop, help me."
The second had the shooting victim, gun, and bullet crossed out and new phrases written on it, including "Video game this is," "We're all friends here," "Harmless act," "I love my life so much!!!!" and "OHS rocks!"
"All [James and Jennifer] 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 said in the filing.
There was also evidence of an obsession with violence, prosecutors allege.
"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. Meanwhile, the parents were focusing on their own issues, things like extramarital affairs, financial issues and substance abuse," the filing says.
The filing does not elaborate on the details surrounding the financial problems or affairs, only referring to them in passing.
McDonald submitted the filing in response to a request from the defendants that Jennifer and James Crumbley have their bond lowered. The prosecution pushed for the bond to stay at $500,00 each due to the risk of the pair attempting to run away, reports the Detroit Free-Press.
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The defense has not responded to the allegations made by McDonald but has argued that Jennifer and James Crumbley are not threats to the public. The defense also claims they "did not know Ethan was a threat to anyone; and they certainly did not anticipate or cause the tragedy that unfolded at Oxford High School."
The younger Crumbley was charged as an adult and faces four counts of first-degree murder, one count of terrorism causing death, seven counts of assault with the intent to kill, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. If convicted, he could face life behind bars.
Crumbley's parents are facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter.