Ethan Crumbley was hearing voices...


Young people in need of help: Joyce Vance seems to think that Jennifer and James Crumbley should be headed for prison.

Who knows? She may even be right!

We rarely root for sending people to prison, though sometimes it has to be done. With respect to Jennifer and James Crumbley, it was their son, Ethan Crumbley, who shot and killed four students at an Oxford County, Michigan high school in November of last year.

Vance is one of our legion of former federal prosecutors. In her essay for the New York Times, she tells us that prosecutors say the Crumbleys left the murder weapon unlocked, without mentioning the fact that the Crumbleys still seem to be denying that claim.

(Or at least, so we gather from clicking one of Vance's links.)

We don't know what the Crumbleys did or didn't do. We thought it might be instructive to know a bit more about their son.

After reading Vance's essay, we hit upon this ABC News report about the Crumbleys' court appearance last week. Included was an account of testimony about their son's state of mind in the days and weeks before the fatal shootings. 

We think there's a great deal to learn from that ABC News report. There but for fortune, we'd initially be inclined to say:

EL-BAWAB (2/8/22): Detective Edward Wagrowski from the Computer Crimes Unit at the Oakland County Sheriff's Office testified about evidence he was able to gather from the Crumbleys' phones, which allegedly showed that Ethan Crumbley was hallucinating and hearing voices, according to texts submitted into evidence by prosecutors.

In March 2021, Ethan Crumbley texted Jennifer Crumbley, saying there was someone in the house and asked when she would be coming home. On another day that month, Ethan texted his mother saying he was worried about being home and that he thought there was a demon in the house throwing bowls, according to text messages retrieved from their phones by Wagrowski.

His mother does not respond to these messages and Ethan responds "can you at least text back," but she still doesn't, according to evidence gathered from her phone by Wagrowski.

In a text exchange retrieved from Ethan Crumbley's phone between him and an unnamed juvenile, Ethan says he will talk to his parents and ask them again to see a doctor. He says in the texts that he will tell them he was hearing voices, according to Wagrowski.

"I only told them about the people I saw," Ethan Crumbley said in a message to the same individual on April 5, 2021, according to evidence.

"Like I am mentally and physically dying," read another message from the alleged shooter, according to evidence gathered by Wagrowski.

By looking at his internet search history, Wagrowski testified that he found Ethan Crumbley visited a website the prosecution refrained from naming 421 times in November 2021 to look at graphic content from school shootings and bird mutilations.

We're nobody's experts on severe mental illness, and our journalists tend to avoid such sources of moral complexification. But in that passage, we think we see the terrible nexus between a young person who seems to be suffering badly and the terrible inclination to dream about mutilations and shootings.

We think there's a lot to learn from such tragic manifestations. In fact, we still owe you some information about the deeply tragic youth of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first person who was shot and killed in Kenosha, Wisconsin on that other unfortunate night.

(He was chasing Kyle Rittenhouse through the streets that night, not the other way around.)

Vance apparently wants to send the Crumbley parents to prison. Who knows? In the end, it may turn out that she's right. 

Our first reaction would be quite a bit softer. There but for fortune, we'd be inclined to say.


  1. "our journalists tend to avoid such sources of moral complexification"

    Journalists are not competent to diagnose anyone, nor would a competent mental health practitioner do so remotely (without having professionally evaluated a patient).

    Somerby's insistence that journalists and others talk in terms of mental illness goes against the professional ethics of both journalists and mental health practitioners.

    Because Somerby never reads his comments, he will go on and on repeating this basic mistake.

  2. "He was chasing Kyle Rittenhouse through the streets that night, not the other way around."

    There is video showing Rittenhouse taunting Rosenbaum before the shooting.

  3. "We're nobody's experts on severe mental illness..."

    Oh yeah? What a surprising admission, dear Bob. After reading your reputed blog for years, somehow we've gotten the impression -- yes, you dear Bob, led us to believe -- that you are indeed the foremost expert in mental illness.

    ...or is it that severe mental illness lays beyond your wondrous expertise in mental illness? Meh. Confusing...

  4. "Vance apparently wants to send the Crumbley parents to prison. Who knows? In the end, it may turn out that she's right. "

    Child neglect is a crime. In some states it is part of child abuse, in others it is a separate crime. It is punishable by prison time for the parent and removal of the child from the home. Criminal neglect can be either wilful or negligent. There is often a religious exemption, although that doesn't seem to apply to this situation.

    Somerby says "there but for fortune..." but that is not true. Most parents err on the side of worrying too much about their children, not ignoring serious behavioral problems. These parents not only ignored Ethan's symptons but they made a gun available to him, supplied pot and enabled him to evade school intervention and discipline. That makes them de facto participants (accomplices) in his crimes.

    Of course the DA wants to charge them. Children died and Ethan's life is ruined because of what his parents did, as much as what Ethan himself did.

  5. "...without mentioning the fact that the Crumbleys still seem to be denying that claim."

    The prosecutors may have physical evidence showing that the box was found unlocked and had not been physically tampered with. Criminals do lie, as do innocent people. The job of police and prosecutors is to separate the truth from lies.

    Somerby seems to think that if the parents deny leaving the gun box unlocked, then that settles it, it was locked. Life doesn't work like that.

    The Crumbleys also say that they were not fleeing when found and arrested in Detroit. Evidence suggests that is a ridiculous denial. If they lied about that, what is the likelihood they told ther truth about locking the gun box?

  6. "We think there's a lot to learn from such tragic manifestations. "

    I find this statement offensive. Does Somerby think that no one knows whether guns can be deadly in the hands of disturbed young men?

    What exactly are we supposed to learn -- at the cost of three young lives?

  7. Fred Guttenberg says:

    "Friend, today marks the fourth anniversary of my daughter Jaime's murder. She was just 14 years old when she was hunted down in the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, by a gunman armed with a military-style assault weapon.

    It feels impossible that it's been four years since I hugged my daughter and told her I loved her — but each and every day, I still feel the pain of knowing I won't ever get to do that again. I'll never see her dance again or hear her laugh. But what I will do, is continue to fight in honor of my daughter’s memory and the daughters we can still save.

    That's why I've dedicated my life to fighting for stronger gun safety laws — like the assault weapons ban that could have saved Jaime's life. "

    Somerby's heart bleeds for Ethan and Somerby considers the parents to be the victims, not the children shot by their son. A mean old prosecutor is trying to hold them accountable for the unthinkable things they did to contribute to Ethan's actions.

    That is a wrong approach. These parents aren't victims. Ethan isn't a victim (except of his parents' neglect). Those dead kids and their families are the victims. They are the ones we must think about in the aftermath of these shootings. And the FIRST STEP must be to ban assault weapons, because if Ethan had no had one, those kids would be alive. Just as Rosenbaum would be alive if no one had bought Rittenhouse, another disturbed teen, had not been given an assault weapon.

    Anything else Somerby says on this topic is an abomination.

    1. Is it a coincidence that Somerby posts this shit on the anniversary of the Stoneman Douglas High school shooting?

      Is this how Somerby shows his compassion for the families? There is a latent message of contempt for liberal efforts to control assault weapons when Somerby pretends to have compassion for shooters who kill children, while treating the parents as victims of aggressive prosecution, instead of remembering the families of the deceased ON THE ACTUAL DAY OF THE STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING.

      Somerby is thumbing his nose at gun control. He doesn't care about Ethan Crumbley. He is deliberately trying to irritate and troll those who care deeply about the dead children shot at schools all over our country.

      Somerby is an asshole and there is some reason to be concerned about his sanity when he pulls a stunt like this one.

    2. He’s mourning a mentally ill kid whose own mother wouldn’t text him back when demons were throwing bowls around. He’s mourning the aftermath of that fact.

      On the other hand, you’re using the anniversary of a shooting to…somehow… argue that such mourning is out of place and not relevant to the problem.

      Why? You don’t like him. Shame on YOU.

    3. Somerby is "mourning" that a prosecutor is interested in charging Crumbley's parents.

      Today is the anniversary of another high school shooting. Somerby chose to post this crap today. That is on him and it communicates loud and clear how he feels about this event. It isn't compassion for the kids who were killed -- he doesn't mention them. It isn't compassion for Ethan -- he uses Ethan's behavior to excuse his parents, since no one is responsible for a crazy kid. Somerby compassion is with the parents, because "there but for fortune" and the concluding part "go I". Somerby clearly thinks these parents are not to blame and are being persecuted by a mean ugly prosecutor. The parents are Somerby's victims here -- BUT THOSE DEAD CHILDREN SHOULD BE HIS FOCUS TODAY OF ALL DAYS, BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONLY TRULY INNOCENT PEOPLE IN THIS SITUATION.

      You are as big a piece of shit as Somerby if you are attempting to defend this offensive essay. And this clearly illustrates two things: (1) Somerby is a conservative troll, (2) trolls have no shame, no limits and no boundaries to what they will say, use or do to achieve their goals.

      I don't like him and I don't like you either. But I have good reasons for disliking you. To see what they are, go read a news report of the Stoneman Douglas shooting and remind yourself of what happened on that Feb 14. If you still don't understand what I am upset about, then God save your soul because you are both going to hell if He doesn't. I rarely see as big a pair of matched turds as you two make today.

    4. You don’t make a lot of sense in any argument, even less you’re emoting for the cameras.

      It really makes sense to you to call Somerby a troll on his own blog as if the temerity of a blogger posting his thoughts is an insufferable and calculated moral affront because you don’t concur.

      It would be even funnier if I thought for one minute that your were so unreasonable and narcissistic to demand that he be expressing his thoughts on these crimes in exactly the manner and focus that you demand.

      Oh, you’re every bit as unreasonable and narcissistic as you seem, but its totally calculated too. That’s the part that’s not so funny.

    5. Cecelia Unhinged, Tarantino's new schlock.

      You know you've done good when you trigger Cecelia into a sputtering gibbering goofball.

    6. Not really. I’m goofball from way back.

      You’re utterly calculated and disingenuous.

      That’s the difference.

    7. calculated definituon: "(of an action) done with full awareness of the likely consequences"

      disingenuous definition: "not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does"

      Neither of these words applies to the two liner written by @7:49. They make no sense at all, except as an attempt by Cecelia to sound more intelligent or educated than she is. Pretentious is the word for Cecelia's name-calling. And then she doesn't say what difference she is talking about -- just to add confusion to the mix.

      Cecelia is a moron.

    8. Anonymouse 9:30am, I admitted to being a goofball.

      Read your ridiculous post. Who is trying to sound more intelligent than they are?

    9. Some days Anon claims there is only one thing to focus on, for others we must see all eight sides of an issue. Anon do this as is convenient to attack Somerby. A conclusion and backwards reasoning.

    10. Cecelia and Rationalist attempting to sow ignorance through confused and incoherent comments is just a delight. Ok guys, thanks for playing.

    11. You need to get your state of constant confusion checked out.

      A good neuropsych evaluation is a must-do for you for several reasons.

    12. "A good neuropsych evaluation is a must-do for you for several reasons."

      Perhaps dear Bob, the famous psychiatrist, could diagnose this poor sufferer.

      ...or perhaps she herself is mere dear Bob's split personality? Tsk. Who knows. Anything's possible these days...

  8. "without mentioning the fact that the Crumbleys still seem to be denying that claim."

    What else would they say? Even after convicted they will always deny it.

  9. Today Somerby tries to distract readers while sneaking in an "unsupported claim" that Rittenhouse was chased by Rosenbaum "not the other way around". Worse, we can call this claim a lie, as Somerby deleted a comment that linked to a video that clearly showed that Rittenhouse taunted and chased Rosenbaum until a few seconds before he killed Rosenbaum in cold blood. Let's fret over Ethan's mom not responding to his text, but let's also note that not long before Rittenhouse went on his murderous rampage, he punched a girl, something you will not see reported at Fox.

    Why does Somerby lie, why do right wingers lie? It is actually delineated in the writings of their philosophical founders. It is all part of manufacturing ignorance.

    1. In the same spirit- speaking of unsupported claims.

    2. Um that link supports the claim:

      "To sum things up, videos taken in July 2020 appear to show Rittenhouse punching a woman during an altercation in Kenosha, Wisconsin."

      also other sources confirm the claim, this is pretty much a faceplant and self own for ya.

    3. Here’s just two notoriously right wing outlets expressly reporting that Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse.

      Hit me with the other sources who expressly verify the claim about Rittenhouse. (Which means nothing as to the jury’s verdict in the first place)

    4. Cecelia, as has been repeatedly explained. Rosenbaum briefly chased Rittenhouse right before Rittenhouse shot him. Before that Rittenhouse taunted and interfered with activities that Rosenbaum was engaged in. That is on video too. When you poke a bear and it attacks you, you are responsible for the attack, not the bear you teased. Rosenbaum is mentally ill. No one else was having a problem with him except Rittenhouse, who asked for it.

      No one here disputed the video showing Rittenhouse being chased by Rosenbaum. The issue was the video that showed what Rittenhouse did to cause Rosenbaum to chase him. That was excluded by the judge or the verdict might have been different.

      You need to pay attention to the discussion and stop pretending it is about something no one was saying.

      This is a good example of why no one wants you here.

    5. The “discussion” wasn’t a discussion. It was merely you having a snit over Somerby’s accurate remark.

      Different day, same theatrics.

      The stuff about poking a bear is beyond clueless.

    6. Cecelia, that is not what those two reports say, to the degree they talk about Rittenhouse being chased, they are 1) quoting Rittenhouse's lawyer and 2) only talking about the few seconds directly before Rittenhouse killed Rosenbaum in cold blood; what led up to that was Rittenhouse chasing and taunting Rosenbaum, so Somerby's claim is not only unsupported, it is also a lie since Somerby took the effort to actually delete the comment that linked to a video showing Rittenhouse chasing Rosenbaum.

      There is also a video of Rittenhouse punching a girl, with witnesses, it is all over google.

      Again, just a laughable faceplant and self own for you, you seem determined to make a fool of yourself.

    7. Anonymouse2:48pm, I can’t find anything about Rittenhouse chasing Rosenbaum.

      That does not mean it did not happen. Link it, I’ll look at it. I’ll acknowledge it.

      It doesn’t make any difference because as you seem to suggest, nothing came of that chase.

      Then Rosenbaum chased a man with a gun, reached for it or for him, and got shot.

      The dynamics matter.

      Despite the fact that it’s pointless, link the video and I’ll salute it.

    8. Rittenhouse was in Kenosha to defend racial hierarchies.

    9. Cecelia you are full of shit. I linked to that video last time Somerby tried this nonsense. You asked for that link, I provided it, and then you commented afterwards. And then Somerby deleted my comment with the video link.

      The "dynamics" do matter, Rittenhouse purposefully riled up Rosenbaum, taunted Rosenbaum into chasing after him, and then turned around and shot him in cold blood, not because Rosenbaum was trying to reach for his gun, watch the video. After Rittenhouse murders Rosenbaum, psychotically, he then gallops off as if he had just scored a touchdown. Only those lacking a moral compass defend Rittenhouse.

    10. I obviously missed the video or I wouldn’t be asking for it.

      Without going into the highly dubious accusation that Somerby is reading and deleting posts, if you feel it will be deleted again, merely name the outlet where you found it.

      I’ll find it.

      I’m not sure in your scenario of Rittenhouse baiting Rosenbaum why you think that this makes it exculpatory for Rosenbaum to have chased a man with a gun, rather than it indicating that Rosenbaum was so angry and psychotic that he chased a guy with a gun in order to jack him the hell up.

      I leave that to anonymouse logic. The jury didn’t have that option.

  10. What is Somerby’s point here?

    Joyce Vance clearly states that you don’t normally charge parents like this, but that she believes that this is a particularly egregious example of parental misconduct.

    But Somerby mocks the seriousness of her argument by characterizing it using the offensively flippant “rooting for sending people to prison”, as if that is what she is doing.

    And of course, he gets to prove his own moral greatness and show is what a great humanitarian he is.

    What an asshole.

    1. It’s good that anonymices kept their emoting to blog boards rather than trying to be The Real Housewives of Hullabaloo. Although I hear Jeff Zucker is free to produce that vehicle.

      Somerby said said this: “Vance apparently wants to send the Crumbley parents to prison. Who knows? In the end, it may turn out that she's right.”

      Hardly an outraged high-handed virtue-blaring denunciation of the sort that you can scroll- up in comment section and snort over today.

    2. Unfunny attempts at humor just sound pathetic.

      No one believes Somerby is sincere when he acknowledges the other side. Real people have opinions. Somerby is a troll.

    3. Somerby has maintained a blog for years.

      No one has forced you to read it.

      You’re a troll.

    4. You cannot refute what I said, so you attack me.

      Somerby has done this same thing for years. He says a person is good and decent (how would he know?) then attacks them in a way that shows they cannot be good and decent. Then generalizes that to all of humanity. Then says he could be wrong, anything is possible. This is the structure of all of his essays.

      Cecelia, you are an awful person. You need to go somewhere else and stop bothering people here. You add nothing whatsoever to any discussion here and your jokes are cringeworthy, revealing the emptiness of your soul. It was nicer before you arrived (even with deadrat around). Please go away.

    5. "You cannot refute what I said, so you attack me. Cecelia, you are an awful person."


    6. Anonymouse9:17am, I enjoy Somerby. Why would I leave?

    7. My ex wife enjoyed me, yet still she left.


  11. There but for fortune is a very sound principle of human compassion. Alas, it is of little use in deciding who must or should be packed off to jail

  12. That this must be explained to a graduate of Harvard's philosophy department is about as troubling as it gets in terms of where we are intellectually. Let's hope Bob was a legacy.

  13. "There but for fortune" could a sentiment fairly extended in the matter of Charles Manson, Timothy McVie, even Mao. But Bob's statement that "Who knows, in the end She might turn out to be right." is offered as balance that balances nothing, in that he can't really show us where Vance is wrong. Without further evidence, it would be a hard case to argue. If the gun was properly locked up, how would he get it? How did they manage to bring it to school with him, and why did they refuse to leave when asked?

  14. Mrs. Crumbly's fan letter to Donald Trump is one of the most revealing documents of our troubled times.

    1. As the likes of you and Bob insist we attempt to understand the average Trump person, you avoid looking at them with any critical thinking, making it simply a matter of liberal snobbery, when the actual answers are a lot more troubling.
      Mrs. Crumbly starts with understandable grievance (who doesn't have some?) and moves quickly to deep hatreds of the immigrant "other", obviously stoked by Trump. When a kid with serious problems gets thrown in the mix, it must be liberals fault. In the letter, however you slice it, we get to see what these people really think, not Bob's idealized piffle, designed to celebrate the bottomless depths of his virtue.
      More troubling, the circumstances Bob is so baffled by point in some dark directions. Was this woman really at the end of her rope with this kid, and getting the husbands sheepish cooperation, ready to kill two birds with one stone? Letting the Government look after the kid and damaging the school at the same time, which She saw the school as symbolizing (her hatred of the school is in her letter to Trump too).
      Those calls after the murders are mighty strange. To look away from these possibilities does a disservice to the families of these poor kids, who escaped Bob's bottomless compassion in the post.

    2. Meant to suggest, to her the school symbolized the evil liberal government.

    3. You saw the letter as revealing about our troubled times because in it, you could see "how these people really think", ie. how dangerous Trump supporters are and how they do not deserve compassion. And as examples you saw her express "deep hatred" for immigrants and hatred for her son's school in the letter.

      Thank you for taking the time to explain that.

      Can you show me exactly where in the letter you saw her express deep hatred for immigrants and hatred for her son's school?

  15. From Political Wire:

    "“Special counsel John Durham accused a lawyer for the Democrats of sharing with the CIA in 2017 internet data purported to show Russian-made phones being used in the vicinity of the White House complex, as part of a broader effort to raise the intelligence community’s suspicions of Donald Trump’s ties to Russia shortly after he took office,” CNN reports.

    New York Times: “But the entire narrative appeared to be mostly wrong or old news — the latest example of the challenge created by a barrage of similar conspiracy theories from Mr. Trump and his allies.”

    “Upon close inspection, these narratives are often based on a misleading presentation of the facts or outright misinformation. They also tend to involve dense and obscure issues, so dissecting them requires asking readers to expend significant mental energy and time — raising the question of whether news outlets should even cover such claims. Yet Trump allies portray the news media as engaged in a cover-up if they don’t.”

    From Rawstory:

    "According to MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, the latest legal filing by special counsel John Durham accusing the campaign of Hillary Clinton of spying on Donald Trump's White House is nothing more than "gobbledygook" designed to rile up the former president's friends and give Fox News hosts something to meltdown over."

    1. If it's wrong, that will be borne out in court when all the evidence is presented.

    2. 9:55,
      Unfortunately, facts aren’t bigotry or white grievance, so Republicans don’t care about them.

    3. Will be interesting to see if Bob tries to take the Right's view on this nonsense.

    4. Don't fall into the trap of misinterpreting criticism of media coverage of the issue with an advocacy of the issue itself.

    5. Somerby should put your remark at the very top of his blog.

      It wouldn’t change anything, but it deserves to be there.