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The Dark Side of Oxford High School Shooter Ethan Crumbley

Oxford High School (Photo courtesy of Wikicommons Images, Adrienne of Oxford, CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED)

According to testimony revealed during the trial of the mother of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley, the boy was plagued by a “dark side,” had thoughts of violence, heard voices that he couldn’t stop, and believed himself to be the devil.

Yahoo News is reporting on evidence revealed during the trial of Jennifer Crumbley, mother of Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old student who was convicted of murdering four students and injuring seven others during a mass shooting at Oxford High School, located in Oxford Township, Michigan, on November 30, 2021. For the first time in the history of school shootings, the parents of the shooter were charged with involuntary manslaughter for buying the gun for their son and failing to report this to the school when they were summoned over his troubling behavior.

On the morning of the shootings, Crumbley’s parents were called to the school after teachers found violent drawings on a math worksheet that depicted a gun and bloody human body with the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” They were also told that Ethan was caught watching shooting videos and searching for bullets online at school.

When the school demanded that he be taken home and receive mental health treatment within 48 hours, Jennifer and her husband, James, deferred, saying they both had to get back to work and it wouldn’t be a good idea to leave Ethan alone at home that day. They mutually agreed with the school to let him stay in class. Two hours later, Ethan went into a bathroom, took the gun out of his backpack, and opened fire on his schoolmates, killing four and wounding seven others.

During the course of Ethan’s trial, evidence of the boy’s troubled mental state was unearthed, such as an entry in a journal found after the shootings in which he wrote: “I have fully mentally lost it after years of fighting with my dark side. My parents won’t listen to me about help or a therapist.”

About eight months before the shootings, Ethan sent a series of text messages to his mother saying that he was afraid because he was seeing demons and believed the house was haunted. A transcript of the texts read: “Okay, the house is now haunted,” followed by, “Some weird (expletive) just happened, now I’m scared.” “I’ve got some videos and pictures of the demon throwing bowls. I’m not joking. It (expletive) up the kitchen. I’m just going to be an outsider for awhile.” “Can you at least text back?”

When presented with this evidence in court, his mother dismissed the thread, saying it was a family joke that had started in 2015 when Ethan and his friends would go down into the basement and play with a Ouija board. “He would mess with us, saying that things were going on in the house…silverware flying across the room, doors slamming…” One time, when Ethan and a friend were playing with the board in the basement, she turned off the circuit breaker just to spook them.

While there are certainly many factors that contributed to the tragic events of November 30, playing with a Ouija board was certainly not in the best interests of a boy who admitted to sensing evil around himself. For example, he confessed that thoughts of conducting a school shooting were “a constant in his head” and that he could not stop them. In a cell phone video created the night before the attack, he said, “There is no heaven, there is no God, there is no Satan, there is no hell. Earth is hell, in its own way.” In the same video, he talked about how much “fun” it would be to shoot up his classmates and referred to himself as the devil.

His journal also contained entries in which he spoke of “hallucinations kicking up” and his “dark side taking over.” In one entry, he wrote, “I feel an evil around me, and even the dogs sense it.”

The dark side of Ethan Crumbley was also cruel and sadistic. He had a fascination with torturing animals and wrote glowingly in his journal about the heartless way he tortured and killed a family of baby birds.

He also fantasized about “shooting up the school” and wrote: “The first victim has to be a pretty girl with a future so she can suffer just like me,” and “I want to hear the screams of the children as I shoot them.” He went on to write: “I hope that every parent of kids I gratefully murdered will be so sad that they kill themselves, and I want all of America to see the darkness in me.”

Sadly, this profoundly disturbed young man cost the lives of four bright young students: Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, and Justin Shilling, 17.

On December 8, 2023, Ethan Crumbley was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole plus an additional 24 years.

His mother, Jennifer, was convicted of four counts of involuntary manslaughter on February 6, 2024 and is facing up to 60 years in prison. Sentencing is expected to be handed down in April of this year.

The trial of Ethan’s father, James Crumbley, is expected to begin on March 5. He is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

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