Ethan Crumbley's parents ignored signs of violence for months before Oxford shooting, prosecutor says

Ethan Crumbley, left, parents James and Jennifer Crumbley.

Prosecutors laid out evidence Friday that suggests the parents of accused Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley ignored signs that he "was gravely troubled" months before the shooting.

During a bond hearing Friday, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast said James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to perform their parental duties, and this failure "far proceed November the 30," the day their son is accused of killing four classmates at Oxford High School.

Ethan Crumbley's hallucinations

According to Keast, evidence from as far back as March 2021 showed that 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley would text his mother when home alone to tell her "he thought there was a demon, a ghost, or someone else inside the home."

Keast alleges that similar texts were sent multiple times, and sometimes it would take Jennifer Crumbley hours to reply.

Evidence ‘in plain sight'

Keast argued that Ethan Crumbley did not hide his apparently violent tendencies from his parents.

Video found on the teen's phone from May 2021 showed him torturing animals at the Crumbley home, Keast said.

"He kept the severed head from a bird that he had tortured and mutilated in a jar in his room for six months," Keast said.

James and Jennifer Crumbley's attorney Shannon Smith argued that the parents were not aware that their son was torturing animals.

However, Keast alleges that the bird head isn't the only evidence that was out in the open.

VIEW: Ethan Crumbley’s drawings provide details about shooter’s mental state

Keast said that Ethan Crumbley had a Nazi coin he bought on Amazon "in plain view in his bedroom," and a notebook that appeared to be shared by all members of the family had Nazi symbols in it.

Another notebook that was not hidden had photos of guns on every page, he said.

Keast also noted that there is evidence Ethan Crumbley made Molotov cocktails at the family home.

"The evidence shows a 15-year-old who has repeatedly informed his parent that he was hallucinating, the same 15-year-old who continuously demonstrated tendencies that were worrisome – all able to be found by his parents," Keast said.

Additionally, Keast said a friend of Ethan Crumbley moved away in late October. He said this had an impact on the teen that his parents acknowledged but failed to address.

"His parents obviously knew what had been directly told to them, but they did not intervene. They did not schedule therapy. They did not investigate what might be in his room, on his phone, or his browser history," he said.

Ethan Crumbley's access to weapons

According to Keast, in August 2021, Ethan Crumbley is accused of texting a friend a photo of him holding one of James Crumbley's loaded guns with the message, "It’s time to shoot up the school JK JK JK."

On Nov. 26, 2021, video from an Oxford gun store showed Ethan Crumbley with his father as he purchased a 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022.

Keast said Ethan Crumbley posted about that gun on social media. 


A social media post attributed to mass shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley days before the teen allegedly carried out his attack at Oxford HS.

The next day, Jennifer Crumbley made a social media about how she went shooting at a gun range with her son. In the post, she said the gun was Ethan Crumbley's early Christmas present.

In video from the range, Ethan Crumbley could be seen showing his mother how to use the handgun, Keast said.

"He would regularly ask his parents when he could go shooting," Keast said.

Keast alleged that the Crumbley parents failed to have the gun secured at home.

"They gave inconsistent statements about how the gun was secured," he said.

Neither James nor Jennifer Crumbley ever said the gun was actually locked up when providing statements, he said.

However, the attorneys for the Crumbley parents assert that the gun was hidden from the teen.

"In Ethan's journal, which was provided in discovery, he explicitly states that he has to 'find where his dad hid the firearm.'" Smith said. "This statement, in Ethan Crumbley's own words, is contrary and false to the misleading assertions that have been made by the prosecution in this case, the assertion that the firearm was made freely to Ethan Crumbley." 

Actions the day of Oxford school shooting

Officials have previously shared that Ethan Crumbley was caught searching for ammo at school the day before the shooting and had drawn violent images the day of the shooting.

On Friday, Keast said that school staff performed a suicide risk assessment when those drawings were discovered, and Ethan Crumbley's parents were called.


Keast said the parents resisted taking their son home from school because they had to work.

"We later learned that Jennifer Crumbley’s employer would have gladly given her the day off, and she didn’t have any meetings scheduled until later in the day," Keast said.

James Crumbley was a DoorDash driver, he added.

What's next for James and Jennifer Crumbley

The Crumbleys, who are charged with involuntary manslaughter, are being held on $500,000 cash/surety bonds after the judge denied a reduction to $100,000. Prosecutors argued that they are a flight risk. 

Prosecutors said Friday that the Crumbleys drained their son's bank account the day of the shooting. Previous evidence has revealed that the Crumbleys have sold their horses and have their house up for sale.

Their attorneys argued that this is necessary because it is no longer safe for them to live in Oxford.

The judge supported the flight risk argument due to a lack of connections to the area, as well as the fact that the Crumbleys did not turn themselves in once charged. The Crumbleys have lived in Florida and have family there.

Read: Tip led to arrest of James, Jennifer Crumbley in basement of Detroit building

The couple is due back in court Feb. 8 for a preliminary hearing.

Meanwhile, Ethan Crumbley waived his preliminary hearing on Friday, so his case will go straight to trial. He may plead guilty or no contest, and his attorney said he may also seek a bond reduction soon.

MORE: Prosecutor debunks posts that Ethan Crumbley is incompetent for trial