View: The drawings a teacher found on Ethan Crumbley’s desk just hours before Oxford High School shooting

James David Dickson

The Detroit News
Rochester Hills — In a court filing Thursday ahead of a Jan. 7 bond hearing for James and Jennifer Crumbley, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office included the drawings allegedly made by their son, Ethan Crumbley, in the hours before the Nov. 30 fatal shooting at Oxford High School.

It is the first time the drawings have been shared publicly.

Attorneys for the couple, Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman of Bloomfield Hills, have asked a judge to reduce their individual bonds from $500,000 to $100,000 and release them on an electronic tether.

Prosecutor Karen McDonald’s office argued in the filing that the $500,000 bonds should not be lowered and the couple is “a greater risk of flight now than they were at the time of arraignment.”

This is exhibit one of filing from Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald showing an image of the picture Ethan Crumbley allegedly drew the day of the shooting at Oxford High School.

Assistant Prosecutor Mark Keast argued in the 35-page response Thursday that the motion earlier this week to reduce their bonds left out important details.

“As of October 18 2021, they were over $11,000 behind on their house payments. Their house is currently for sale. They have sold their horses,” Keast wrote. “They have already shown that they will flee if given the opportunity. These are critically important facts known to defendants … but not disclosed to the court in the defendants’ motion.”

Earlier this week, the couple’s attorneys contended in a court filing that the gun was properly locked away and they had no reason to believe Ethan Crumbley was a threat to himself or others.

The Crumbleys’ attorneys, Smith and Lehman, didn’t immediately respond Thursday evening to requests for comment.

All three Crumbleys face criminal charges in the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School in which Ethan Crumbley is accused of killing four people and wounding seven.

Ethan Crumbley, 15, faces 24 counts of first-degree murder, terrorism and felony firearm charges; his parents face four counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

This is exhibit two of a filing from Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald showing an image of the picture Ethan Crumbley allegedly drew the day of the shooting at Oxford High School. Exhibit two shows that some images and words have been crosseds out and other positive messages have been added, such as “I love my life so much!!!” and “We’re all friends here.”

Their son was denied bond.

Judge Julie Nicholson at 52-3 District Court in Rochester Hills is expected to consider the issue of the couple’s bonds at the Jan. 7 hearing.

James and Jennifer Crumbley are due before Nicholson on Feb. 8 for preliminary examinations.

Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; and Justin Shilling, 17, were killed in the shooting.

Two versions

Oxford High School shooting defendant Ethan Crumbley appears at his probable cause hearing via remote video conference on Dec. 13, 2021. The conference was adjourned and rescheduled for Jan. 7, 2022.

In exhibits one and two, the filing shows two versions of the drawings that landed Ethan Crumbley in the high school office on Nov. 30. The first is how the drawing initially appeared when a teacher captured a screenshot and alerted a counselor to her concerns.

The second is how the drawing appeared in the school office, after the teen had allegedly modified it.

In the original, a math homework sheet is overwritten with a drawing. There is a gun, a bullet and a bleeding shooting victim. At different points, hand-written additions to the page read: “My life is useless,” “Blood everywhere” and “The thoughts won’t stop, help me.”

In the version allegedly changed, the shooting victim, the gun and the bullet are crossed out, as is “blood everywhere,” “help me” and “my life is useless.”

A crying-laughing emoji appears, along with “video game this is,” “we’re all friends here,” “harmless act,” “I love my life so much!!!!” and “OHS rocks!”

The filing portrays James and Jennifer Crumbley as preoccupied with financial woes, horses and affairs of the heart as their son spiraled.

The month before the shooting, Ethan Crumbley’s “only” friend moved away, the prosecution wrote.

The family dog recently died. And Jennifer Crumbley was involved in an affair with another man and was in communication with that man in the midst of the turmoil on Nov. 30, according to the filing.

Jennifer Crumbley is escorted into court for a probable cause hearing in Rochester Hills on Dec. 14, 2021. She and husband James Crumbley are seeking to have their bond reduced from $500,000 to $100,000.

“Instead of paying attention to their son and getting him help, they bought him a gun,” the prosecution argued. “This was not a case where their son retrieved and used their gun. Instead, he retrieved and used his gun, the one they bought for him.”

McDonald has acknowledged that it’s unusual to charge parents in a school shooting.

But in the filing, her office argued it’s also unusual for parents to play contributing roles to the shooting, by providing a weapon, not disclosing it to school officials and ignoring warning signs they were in the best position to read.

One of the warning signs, prosecutors said, is a jar Ethan Crumbley kept in his bedroom, containing the head of a baby bird. He later brought the jar to school and left it in a bathroom, they said.

“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 argued. “Defendants were in a better position than anyone else in the world to prevent this tragedy, but they failed to do so.”

The filing includes a mid-November statement from Flagstar Bank to Jennifer Crumbley, showing her as $11,358 in arrears on the mortgage on their Oxford home. Year-to-date, only $785 had been paid on the mortgage, and $1,733 had been paid in property taxes.

It includes a Dec. 17 letter from Lehman, one of the defense attorneys, to the prosecutor’s office, disclosing that the Crumbleys were listing their Oxford home for sale.

Dispute over manhunt

James Crumbley is escorted out of a hearing in Rochester Hills on Dec. 14, 2021.

The Crumbleys were the subject of a manhunt by local and federal authorities when they failed to show for an arraignment on charges on Dec. 3. Smith and Lehman argued in their filing that McDonald did not return messages from the lawyers and held a press conference on Dec. 3 knowing that Smith was in a trial and Lehman was traveling back to Michigan from Florida.

The Crumbleys’ attorneys stress neither parent is a flight risk, police have taken all their weapons and they can’t have contact with their son because he is jailed.

The prosecution argued that it was no miscommunication that led to the manhunt for the Crumbleys, but a deliberate attempt to flee, down to parking in Detroit in a way meant to hide their license plate number.

The Crumbleys were found with four phones and allegedly attempted to destroy one when police found them, according to the filing. Two were “burner” phones meant to evade law enforcement, the prosecution says.

Adding to their flight risk, the prosecution argued, “both defendants have substantial contacts in Florida.”

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