A fire department captain who was having an affair with Jennifer Crumbley took the stand in her trial, revealing damning text messages exchanged between them after her son killed four classmates in the Oxford High School mass shooting.
Brian Meloche, a long-time friend of Ms Crumbley, told the court about his relationship with the convicted shooter’s mother, who is now on trial facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter in a landmark trial about parental responsibility. She has pleaded not guilty.
Other texts showed her describing the school’s response to Ethan’s disturbing behaviour – such as drawing a doodle of a mass shooting or searching online for ammunition – as “nonchalant”.
On the morning before the shooting, school administrators had called in the Crumbleys to discuss their son’s recent behaviour. The school staff gave the Crumbleys a choice: to take their 15-year-old home that day or to let him stay in school.
They chose to keep him in school, both allegedly citing that they had jobs to return to.
Despite telling school officials she had to return to work, Ms Crumbley had actually messaged Mr Meloche, saying that she could meet up with him, he testified.
Texts also revealed that Ms Crumbley said she wished the school wouldn’t have allowed him to stay in school. Similarly, she admitted to police in a videotaped interview: “I really wish we took him home.”
Mr Meloche also testified that Ms Crumbley told him on the day of the shooting that she realised the gun was gone from their home. He told her to notify the police, he said.
The message had since been deleted, with the firefighter telling the court that he regularly erased messages from Ms Crumbley.
He allegedly told her that she needed to “disappear” when she could and warned her to be careful what she texted or wrote on Facebook Messenger because “the FBI is involved” and “they can access anything and everything”.
Despite his warnings, Ms Crumbley texted Mr Meloche on 2 December: “I’ll never be OK. I lost my son. He’s a murderer. And I’ll forever have to live with that.”
She also texted him: “I failed as a parent, I failed miserably.”
He testified that he never believed Ms Crumbley didn’t care about her child.
The pair stopped communicating on 4 December 2021, he testified.