Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley's mother and her married firefighter-chief lover, organized sex parties at hotels while ignoring her son's requests for mental health treatment, prosecutors said in court on Friday. Jennifer Crumbley, 45, and her lover, Brian Meloche, would often find strangers on a swingers app called Adult Friend Finder.
They would then arrange "meet-ups" with strangers at a nearby hotel after work, prosecutors said in the explosive start to their cross-examination of the mom at her trial as they tried to paint her as negligent to her troubled son. This came as Jennifer and her husband James face trial for involuntary manslaughter related to the 2021 school shooting.
Unlike a Mother
Jennifer admitted using the app to "arrange for other people to meet us there." However, she maintained that her visits to hotels after work were for business purposes. The mother, employed as a marketing director for a real estate company at the time, claimed, "I only met with Brian during work hours," as reported by ABC News.
Jennifer and her husband, James Crumbley, 47, are both charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection to their son's deadly high school rampage.
Both Jennifer and James have pleaded not guilty. Their son, Ethan, who is now 17, was sentenced in December to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the shooting incident at Oxford High School on November 30, 2021, where he killed four students and injured six others along with a teacher.
During Jennifer's cross-examination, prosecutors tried to challenge her portrayal of being a "hyper-vigilant helicopter parent" closely connected to her son before the school shooting.
Prosecutors argued in court that, contrary to her claims, Jennifer was "grossly negligent." They pointed to her actions, such as purchasing a gun for her son and not seeking mental health treatment for him despite his troubled state.
The prosecution brought up that Jennifer spent significant amounts of time away from her son. This included not only rendezvous with her firefighter boyfriend but also hours spent skiing or riding horses, suggesting a possible neglect of her parental responsibilities.
Jennifer argued that her son had no interest in horseback riding, explaining why she did not take him along when she went riding three times a week, as reported by ABC News.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, claimed that Jennifer was so preoccupied with her hobbies that she neglected her son.
They presented text-message exchanges between Jennifer and Ethan, stressing that the word "love" appeared only three times over the course of several years, implying a lack of emotional connection or attention to her son's needs.
Disturbed Mind, Broken Relationships
Prosecutors also showed excerpts from Ethan's journal during the trial, in which he wrote, "my parents won't listen to me about help or [a] therapist," and "I have zero help for my mental problems, and it's causing me to shoot up the f–king school."
The entries appeared to surprise Jennifer, who claimed on the "Today" show that she "felt like I had an open door" for her son to come to her about anything. She stated that she had never read her son's journals before and had not monitored his internet activity.
Jennifer claimed that it was her husband who decided to purchase the 9mm gun that their son would later use in the school shooting.
According to her account, James and Ethan bought the firearm together on Black Friday while she was out shopping on her own.
When asked whether she objected to the purchase, Crumbley replied, "No."
"I was more angry that they cut into our Christmas tree time," she said.
"I usually cut my Christmas tree down right after I get back from shopping, but I had to wait for them, so I was irritated," the mom said.
This came as it was revealed that after the school shooting when both Jennifer and James fled to Detroit as cops sought them, both of them took four Xanax pills each to alleviate their anxiety about the impending arrest.
On the day of the shooting, Ethan's parents were called to the school after a teacher discovered disturbing drawings of mass shootings and murders on his homework.
Despite Ethan expressing distress with the words "the thoughts won't stop, help me," both of his parents declined to take him home, leaving him at the school where he had a 9mm handgun concealed in his backpack.
Jennifer explained that, at the time, she was too occupied with work to take him out of school, a statement contradicted by her former boss, who testified that she would have been allowed to attend to her son.
Her secret lover, fire captain Brian Meloche, also claimed that she wanted to meet up on that morning, though she downplayed the nature of their affair during her testimony.
In the aftermath of her son's arrest for the murders, Jennifer confided in her lover that she felt that she had "failed miserably" as a parent.
"You didn't do this," Meloche told her in response.
"Be careful of anything you type on messenger or text," Meloche wrote later, "
The FBI is involved, they can access anything and everything." Details of the affair were not presented as evidence during Ethan Crumbley's trial in October 2022, where the 17-year-old was sentenced to life in prison.
In a recently released police station interview conducted just hours after the shooting, the parents expressed regret, stating, "I really wish we would have taken him home."