ethan crumbley oxford school shooter
© Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press
Ethan Crumbley, the teen accused in the Oxford High School shooting, waived his right to a probable cause hearing Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in the 52-3 courtroom of Judge Carniak in Rochester Hills.
Oxford school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley repeatedly texted his mom about "demons" and "ghosts" in the house, videotaped himself torturing animals, made Molotov cocktails at home, drew a sketch of himself shooting up his school in a journal, and once texted a friend "it's time to shoot up a school JK," prosecutors disclosed in court Friday.

But the teen's parents failed to get their son any help, they said, because they ignored the red flags, didn't pay enough attention to him and instead fed into his unhealthy obsession with guns.

"They did not intervene. They did not schedule therapy," Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Marc Keast said in court Friday. "Instead, they bought him what he desperately wanted, a 9mm Sig Sauer handgun."

Keast disclosed these allegations during a bond hearing in Rochester Hills district court for Ethan Crumbley's parents, who had asked a judge to lower their bond from $500,000 to $100,000.

52-3 District Court Judge Julie Nicholson refused to lower the bond, concluding the parents were a flight risk, just as the prosecutor had argued, and that the charges in the case are too serious.

James and Jennifer Crumbley are facing involuntary manslaughter charges in the shooting that left four students dead. Their son, Ethan Crumbley, is facing terrorism and first-degree murder charges for his alleged role in the shootings: Prosecutors say he shot up his school with a gun that his parents bought him as an early Christmas present four days before the Nov. 30 massacre.

In court Friday, the prosecution disclosed more disturbing allegations about the teenage suspect, including:
  • In March 2021, Ethan Crumbley texted his mother multiple times that "he thought there was a demon or a ghost or someone else inside the home," but the mom wouldn't respond for hours.
  • In May of 2021, the teenager tortured animals, filmed himself doing it, and kept a bird's head in a jar in his room for six months.
  • Ethan Crumbley searched school shootings and firearms on the Internet so much that he received spam ads about "his mental well-being and firearms."
  • In August 2021, he made a video of himself holding his dad's pistol and sent a text message to a friend: "It's time to shoot up a school. JK. JK. JK."
  • He was fascinated with Nazi propaganda and had purchased a Nazi coin that he kept in view in his room.
  • He wrote "pages and pages about what he was going to do" at his school in his journal.
"Ethan was gravely troubled," Keast said. "He was fascinated with firearms. He was violent. He displayed terrifying tendencies and behaviors, and he literally sketched out what he planned to do in his journal and his drawings."

As the prosecution made allegations about the Crumbley family, James and Jennifer Crumbley shook their heads repeatedly. The couple appeared via Zoom from the Oakland County Jail. The dad appeared to smirk at one point. The mom, who was in a separate jail room, appeared to have done her hair.

Prosecutors have accused the couple of ignoring their son's pleas for help, alleging they knew he was depressed and spiraling out of control. But instead of getting him help, they say, they bought him a gun while paying attention to their own lives, including having extramarital affairs, drinking and financial troubles.

In court Friday, defense attorney Mariell Lehman criticized the prosecution for disclosing the mother's alleged affair, saying prosecutors are only trying to create conflict between the parents.

But Lehman said that the defense team has discussed the extramarital affair with their clients, and that no such conflict exists. She also said that the parents "were completely unaware" of any animal torturing by their son, nor did they know he allegedly kept a bird's head under his bed.

The Crumbleys maintain they are not guilty of any wrongdoing, saying they had no way of knowing that their son would use the gun to open fire at school, and that they are not responsible for the tragedy that followed.

The Crumbleys also maintain that they kept the gun safely stored, though prosecutors have alleged that the couple kept the gun in an unlocked, armoire drawer.

Ethan Crumbley, 15, was charged as an adult and faces up to life in prison if convicted. He was denied bond and is being housed at the Oakland County Jail, where his parents are also being detained. The family, however, is not allowed to communicate with one another.

The high school sophomore is accused of fatally shooting Hana St. Juliana, 14; Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17.

All three Crumbleys have pleaded not guilty.

Separately, a civil lawsuit seeking $100 million has been filed against the school district on behalf of a student who was shot in the neck and survived, and her younger sister who watched her sibling get shot.

The lawsuit alleges that the school district put students in harm's way by ignoring signs of a troubled teen who was allowed to return to class after exhibiting troubling behavior in class, both on the day of the shooting and the day before.

According to police and the prosecution, Ethan Crumbley was seen in class browsing for ammunition on his cellphone a day before the massacre. The next day, he was found with a note depicting a semiautomatic handgun with the words, "The thoughts won't stop. Help me," and a sketch of someone bleeding.

His parents were summoned, and a meeting with counselors and their son followed. The parents resisted taking him out of school. He was sent back to class with his backpack, which police said they believe contained the gun used in the deadly shootings.

The backpack was never searched.

According to school officials, Ethan Crumbley explained that the drawing of the gun and blood was part of a video game design, and that counselors did not believe he might harm others based on his "behavior, responses and demeanor," so they let him return to class.

Shortly after, police said video evidence from inside the school showed Ethan Crumbley emerging from a bathroom and opening fire in a hallway. The shooting lasted for about five minutes before the gunman surrendered to law enforcement.

Contact Tresa Baldas: tbaldas@freepress.com