Jennifer Crumbley trial: Cop describes shooter's mom as cold after son killed 4 students

ByED WHITE AP logo
Thursday, February 1, 2024
Cop describes Michigan shooter's mom as cold after son killed 4
As the Jennifer Crumbley trial continues, witnesses in court are painting a picture of what kind of mother Ethan Crumbley has.

PONTIAC, Mich. -- Our coverage on this topic has moved here.

Hours after a teenager killed four students at his Michigan high school, his mother said, "He's going to have to suffer," an investigator testified Wednesday.

"I found that odd. She was referring to someone who was her son," Detective Lt. Sam Marzban of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office told jurors.

Marzban testified on the fifth day of trial in the involuntary manslaughter case against Jennifer Crumbley. It was part of the prosecution's effort to portray her as a cold, thoughtless parent whose gross negligence contributed to the deaths at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021. Seven other people were wounded.

Prosecutors claim that Jennifer and James Crumbley could have prevented the deaths if they had addressed their son Ethan Crumbley's mental health. They're also accused of making a gun accessible at home. They are the first parents in the U.S. to be charged in a mass school shooting committed by their child.

Marzban was among many officers who rushed to the school on the day of the attack. He was later in charge of getting a warrant to search the Crumbley home and collect their phones.

"I told her that there were several dead kids and kids shot in the school. It was on the national news. Even the president had addressed it," Marzban testified.

Jennifer Crumbley seemed "irritated and frustrated," he said, especially about giving up her phone.

"I remember taking notes down," Marzban recalled. "She made a statement: 'So many lives were lost today, and he's going to have to suffer.'"

He said investigators were interested in the phones after seeing text messages from the parents on their son's phone.

"Ethan don't do it," Jennifer Crumbley wrote about an hour after the shooting started.

Defense attorney Shannon Smith said last week that Jennifer Crumbley was referring to her son possibly killing himself.

Ethan, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, is serving a life sentence. He's now 17. James Crumbley, 47, is due to stand trial on involuntary manslaughter charges in March.

Jurors also learned Wednesday how the parents were captured by police. Roughly 13 hours after charges were announced, they were found on a mattress at an acquaintance's Detroit art studio, roughly 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of their home.

Luke Kirtley, a sharp-eyed coffee roaster in the building, said he spotted their car in the parking lot and called 911.

Smith insists that the parents were not on the run. She has said they couldn't stay at home because they had received threats, and that they had planned to voluntarily appear in court.

A meeting between school staff and the Crumbleys hours before before the shooting has been a focal point in the case.

The parents were presented with a disturbing drawing their son had scrawled on an assignment. It depicted a gun and a bullet and the lines, "The thoughts won't stop. Help me. The world is dead. My life is useless."

The school recommended that the couple get him help as soon as possible, but they declined to take him home, saying they needed to work. Ethan stayed in school and later pulled a gun from his backpack to fire at students.