MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2022
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.