James and Jennifer Crumbley's connection to an east-side commercial building where police say they were found hiding overnight was apparently a Polish-born, Detroit-based artist who'd recently done a mural near their house.
According to The Daily Beast, photos of the arrest showed the couple leaving the studio of Andrzej Sikora, a painter who was featured in an Oxford Leader article last month about his new mural at Red Knapp's Dairy Bar. A photo of Sikora posing alongside it was credited to "Jehn Crumbley," who was a licensed Realtor until 2018 and also worked as a marketing director. The photo credit has since disappeared.
The parents of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley were in a room inside 1111 Bellevue on Detroit's east side early Saturday and taken into custody after an approximately half-day manhunt involving multiple law enforcement agencies, Detroit Police Chief James White said during a 4 a.m. news conference.
Of discovering the parents 40 miles from Oxford at a commercial building with artist studios and a coffee shop, White said, "I'm surprised that they're here."
Authorities have zeroed in on an individual who likely helped the couple get there and an investigation is underway into possible charges of aiding and abetting or obstruction of justice, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said at a 4 p.m. news conference Saturday.
"Clearly someone helped them to that location and made it available to them and it was after it was publicly disclosed that there were charges against them," Bouchard said.
Sikora told The Daily Beast he was aware of the investigation and was in conversations with people, though would not specify who and declined further comment.
The building at Lafayette and Bellevue is owned by a company linked to local auto parts manufacturer Letts Industries, property records show.
A question was raised early Saturday as to whether the couple was attempting to flee to Canada, but it was unclear if White responded. The building is close to the riverfront.
The U.S. Marshals Service and Oakland County Sherriff's office began searching for the couple when they failed to turn themselves in on involuntary manslaughter charges announced by the county prosecutor around noon Friday. A reward of up to $10,000 each was being offered for information leading to their arrest.
Police were led to the building around 10:30 p.m. by a tipster who saw a vehicle the sheriff's office had described as belonging to the couple. White said the mother and father were found "distressed."
The Crumbleys were arraigned Saturday morning in Oakland County and pleaded not guilty to four counts each of involuntary manslaughter, for which they face up to 60 years in prison.
The search for the couple unfolded as their attorneys insisted they were not fugitives on the run. They'd left town out of concern for their safety, but intended to return for an arraignment, Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman claimed. Smith previously defended imprisoned child molester Larry Nassar.
"On Thursday night, we contacted the Oakland County prosecutor to discuss this matter and to advise her that James and Jennifer Crumbley would be turning themselves in to be arraigned," the lawyers said in a statement to the The Detroit News. "Instead of communicating with us, the prosecutor held a press conference to announce charges."
Despite the lawyers' claims that the couple was out of town, they withdrew $4,000 from an ATM in Rochester Hills, McDonald said at their arraignment.
The Oakland County Sheriff's Office, meanwhile, blamed Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald for the fugitive hunt.
"In my entire 44-year career, I have never, ever seen a prosecutor announce charges in a major case without the suspect being in custody first," Oakland Undersheriff Mike McCabe told the Free Press.
"We don't let people turn themselves in," he said. "When a warrant is authorized by a judge, we go and get them."
It's unclear why the sheriff's office was blindsided by the charges, as media outlets had reported they were coming since the night prior.
The comments may reflect some underlying tension between the offices. McDonald was elected last year on a progressive platform while Bouchard is known for aggressively targeting lower level crimes, like those involving marijuana.
Original post Friday afternoon:
Police, FBI agents and deputy U.S. marshals were searching Friday afternoon for James and Jennifer Crumbley, charged earlier in the day with multiple counts of involuntary manslaughter in their son's Tuesday mass shooting at Oxford High School.
Authorities became concerned when the couple was charged and cut ties with an attorney who had pledged to bring them in, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told CNN. He activated the fugitive team and other agencies jumped in to help.
"The action of fleeing and ignoring their attorney certainly adds weight to the charges," the lawman says in a statement. "They cannot run from their part in this tragedy."
The 45-year-old father, an office supply firm salesman, had purchased the gun at Acme Shooting Goods in Oxford four days before the shooting, authorities say. His 43-year-old wife reportedly is a real estate broker.
Bouchard said he wasn't concerned the couple might harm the public, but advised anyone with information to call 911. The Crumbley family owns a 2021 white Kia Seltos with the license plate DQG 5203, according to Michigan Secretary of State records, The Detroit News reports.
The couple and their 15-year-old son haven't cooperated with investigators, the sheriff said.
County Prosecutor Karen McDonald, in announcing the charges Friday afternoon, noted that Ethan Crumbley and his father were together when James bought the gun on South Lapeer Road and that social media posts by the family suggested the weapon belonged to Ethan. The teen posted "just got my new beauty today, Sig Sauer 9 mm," while his mother posted a photo that described the gun as a Christmas present for him.