Remembering the Victims' Families

If you want to start a heated debate, just discuss politics, religion or the death penalty.  Everyone has their views on whether the death penalty is actually a deterrent to crime, but in our haste to voice an opinion on the matter – how often do we reflect on the families of the victims of the homicide that brought the killer to Death Row?  This entry is not to defend or denounce the death penalty, but to take an introspective look at the families of victims who are left to deal with life after a monster has taken their loved one.  Last month, serial pedophile and killer, James Crummel, hanged himself in his San Quentin cell.  Crummel had a very long, violent history and destroyed many lives in his wake.   He had a past filled with violent child molestations spanning 30 years and four states.

In a 1968 Wisconsin State Prison psychiatric report, the psychiatrist stated: “This is one of the few people that we see who really fits the prototype of a cold-blooded killer. ”  James “Jamey” Wilfred Trotter, a 13-year old Costa Mesa boy disappeared in 1979 while on his way to school. For years, his family hoped for his return – never losing hope that one day he would come home.  Eleven years later, Crummel called police pretending to be a random citizen, in what police later called a twisted game of cat and mouse, to say he found some charred human bones while hiking off the Ortega Highway in Riverside County.  It wasn’t until 1996 that the remains were identified as Jamey Trotter’s.  Police had also learned that Crummel lived about a mile from where the boy disappeared.  In 2004, Crummel was convicted of Jamey’s murder and sent to Death Row.

While reading an article on cnn.com about Crummel’s death, I noticed a comment and wanted to share.  I can only write about these cases without firsthand knowledge of how a family’s lives are destroyed, but Jamey Trotter’s brother provided a gut wrenching account of what his family has been through because of Crummel.

I envy those for whom the subject of Crummel’s suicide while on death row is simply fodder for their ongoing philosophical debate for or against the death penalty. And you are certainly entitled to your opinions. I don’t have the luxury of examining this dispassionately … as a matter of fact, just the opposite. There is a great deal of passion involved. I am deeply and passionately certain that this world is a better place now that this piece of human filth is no longer sucking wind!

Crummel murdered my brother and destroyed my family. We were not alone. Crummel’s acts of depravity spanned four decades. Many of his victims and their families will never be able to find closure because there was no admission of guilt, no display of remorse … Crummel maintained his innocence to the bitter end. Poor misunderstood sociopath. For the bleeding hearts who think for one minute that we as a society should mourn his passing, I welcome them to have stood in my shoes and those of my family for the past 33 years.

For the first 18 years after Jamey’s disappearance we didn’t know if he was dead or alive. When we were told that there were remains found off Ortega Highway that could belong to Jamey, we submitted our DNA for testing and hoped … not that the remains were Jamey’s, but that they weren’t. When we were told that, yes, the remains were Jamey, what was left of the hope that we might one day see him alive evaporated. Over the next couple of years, as we were trying to put the pieces of our lives back together, trying to assimilate this new reality of Jamey’s death, we were hit with the news that the “hiker” who had found Jamey’s remains turned out to be a serial child-rapist and that he’s suspected of abducting, molesting, and ultimately murdering my brother.

During the time we were waiting for the DA’s office to bring formal charges against my brother’s killer, the picture of Crummel’s past was coming into sharper focus. First he and his psychiatrist friend, and fellow child molester, Forgey, were both tried and convicted of molesting other boys … crimes that took place far more recently than Jamey’s murder. Details emerged about Crummel that had his earliest crimes against children dating back to the early 1960’s. He had been convicted of kidnapping, molesting, and murdering a 9-year-old boy in Arizona, but was released after only 5 or so years due to a “technicality” … the judge ruled that he had not been adequately represented. There were other victims, many others … some confirmed, some only suspected. Crummel’s list of depravities reads like something out of Criminal Minds … only this isn’t a television show, this is real. These children were real. What Crummel did to them was real.

Eight years after Jamey’s remains were identified, Crummel finally stood trial for Jamey’s kidnapping, murder, and molestation. We held our collective breath hoping that justice wouldn’t fail us as it had so obviously failed the families of his earlier victims. Our hopes were realized when the jury came back with a guilty verdict. We tentatively celebrated his conviction, waiting for the sentencing phase of the trial to begin. I am not ashamed and I make no apologies for wanting and hoping that the jury, after careful deliberation, would vote to end Crummel’s miserable life … and I’ll be damned if my wish didn’t come true. Here it was, 25 years after Jamey first disappeared, my family and I thought we might finally find some sense of closure and come to peace with our loss. Crummel was to die for what he did to my brother … then came the rest of the story. We were told that it could be 20 or more years before all of his appeals would be exhausted and the state could finally put this vile piece of garbage well and truly in the ground. Crummel would likely die of old age in prison before the state would ever be able to put a needle in his arm and end him.

That sentence wasn’t Crummel’s to endure … it was ours. My family was being told that we would face the possibility in the coming years of multiple appeals that could result in his death sentence being overturned, his conviction being overturned, and that the possibility existed, however slim, that he could eventually walk free. Now, with that in mind, let me tell you that after his sentence had been read to the courtroom and we were all filing out I said to one of the bailiffs, my gallows humor showing, that if I could borrow his sidearm I’d gladly take Crummel out behind the courthouse and carry out his sentence myself. The deputy admonished me that even in jest my statement could be construed as a threat and that I would be wise to keep such thoughts to myself … then in a low voice he told me that even if he could loan me his sidearm I wouldn’t stand a chance of carrying out the verdict … there were too many people in line ahead of me who would have that taken care of before I got a shot off. I didn’t realize how soon after that exchange that I would wish that the deputy had not been kidding.

In the years since Jamey’s death I’ve lost my father, my older brother, and my mother. I hold Crummel responsible for their deaths as well. My father and brother basically drank themselves into early graves, and the many years of stress and strain that my mother endured left her too weakened when her health eventually started waning to put up much of a struggle. Cancer was the final battle she faced and she was too weak to fend off that foe with everything else she’d been through. Crummel may not have literally stangled the rest of my family, but his handprints are there just the same.

So, there it is folks. Is it vengence that made me want Crummel to finally be dead? To some extent, yes. But if you consider what his one heinous act back in April of ’79 did to my family, how it affected everything we did, who we knew, where we went, drove choices … good and bad … for the 33 years after, I would argue that it was more, much more than vengence that made us want to see him gone for good. It was self-defense, self-preservation, even therapeutic to wish him dead. And I for one, and I know I’m not alone in this, will sleep much easier now that the evil waste of space is no longer among the living.

The one and only regret I have about his taking his own life is that he took with him the answers to the many remaining questions about his other victims. And yes, you can be certain that there were other victims. Even with the hell my family has been through, we were the lucky ones … we got to finally have some closure and were able to lay my brother to rest at long last. Curmmel’s last act on this earth was to leave holes permanently in the lives of the families his depravity already destroyed. Those families Crummel’s cruelty touched may never know for certain what happend to their loved ones. Looking back to when my family still had hope, before we knew that my brother was likely drugged, raped, and strangled at the hands of a sociopath, perhaps not knowing is a blessing.

For those of you who are eager for a debate, why don’t you wrestle with that one: the pros and cons of knowing or not knowing how horrifically your brother, sister, son or daughter met their end. I’ll even let you borrow Crummel for your philosophical debate. Use his as the face of evil while you imagine yourself not as poor Crummel’s bleeding heart defender, but rather on the receiving end of his sick, twisted, debauchery, Try to contemplate how it would be for your loved one to first be defiled and then strangled to death at the hands of this man who indiscriminately violated children, killing them when he was done because he learned early on that dead kids can’t run tell mommy and daddy. Dead kids are just dead. Well, thankfully now, so is Crummel.

Jeffrey Trotter, Battle Creek, MI

More at the link.

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54 Comments

  1. JanCorey

    Families, imo, have no place in any case where an individual is charged with a crime and faces incarceration.

    Reply
    1. truthfinder

      How can the family not be involved ? They are victims of a crime . Please explain to me how you arrived at this opinion.

      Reply
      1. Prinnie (Post author)

        Most families feel the same way, I’m sure. They wish they wouldn’t have to be involved, but through no fault of their own, the perpetrators drag innocents into their web. I’m interested as well why you feel they have no place. I don’t think they can avoid being involved. The victim can’t speak for themselves and the family provides information relative to the crime.

        Reply
      2. JanCorey

        Families are not a victim of a crime, they are only a victim of their own failures in providing tangible and credable proper advice to thier family members.

        Reply
  2. notsofancynancy

    Wow, that is all I can say.

    Reply
    1. Prinnie (Post author)

      That’s what I said after I read it. Very powerful statement.

      Reply
      1. notsofancynancy

        Amen!

        Reply
  3. elena mitchell

    Only those who have suffered these experiences are in a position to say how it feels and what they want in a country that carries the death penalty.
    At this moment, and for a very long time I have been against the option, and I sometimes wonder if the option itself perpetuates the misery. If it was not available would people be able to get on with what is left of the rest of their lives if they weren’t forever waiting for it to happen?
    I don’t know how I would feel if this happened to one of my family, but I do hope that I still wouldn’t want what I currently believe is savagery.
    It isn’t an option in UK, or in France where I live, so I won’t ever have to deal with it, and I do think that this is probably a good thing.
    I don’t believe in God as such, but I do believe that forgiveness heals the soul, even if only in part.

    Reply
  4. elena mitchell

    Jan Corey obviously has Pitch Forker tendencies. Blame anyone but the perpetrator. Although God knows what engenders this sort of mind set. She would have been burning witches a couple of hundred years ago.
    PS. She can’t spell either. But this only serves to prove her ignorance.

    Reply
  5. truthfinder

    I wonder about a person that can blame the family of a victim for anything. Yep, ignorance at its best.

    Reply
    1. JanCorey

      The victim’s family’s response, or lack thereof, is key to the credability of the alleged assertion of a crime, and the time-delay or lack thereof is critical to whether the alleged event even occurred in the first place.

      Reply
      1. truthfinder

        Are you serious? That long sentence didn’t raise your level of intelligence one point. How can you be taken seriously when you spout such nonsense?

        Reply
      2. elena mitchell

        Really? I shall have to go and have a think about that. It sounds like convoluted bollox to me, but I suppose I could be wrong.

        Reply
  6. JanCorey

    Truthfinder, yes, I am serious. But, I am just going by how the courts operate and what the Law dictates.

    Reply
  7. truthfinder

    No, I don’t think so. I think you have an agenda that is vastly different than the court. I also think you want to blame the family for something they had no part of. I find that very wrong and don’t remember seeing that in any law review.

    Reply
  8. hissyfittz

    Jan Corey, really? Families are not a victim of a crime, they are only a victim of their own failures in providing tangible and credable proper advice to thier family members. As a therapist who works with victims and their families (the silent and unrecognized victims) I can enlighten you. The famliy suffers in ways that the onlooker/bystander doesn’t see. They are re-victimized with each interrogation, newscast, and hearing. They are unable to grieve due to the continued onslaught faced day after day, month after month, year after year. No, they were not THE VICTIM…it’s a component of the Ripple Effect that will continue to haunt them…death penalty or not. For your sake, I hope that you never become one.

    Reply
    1. JanCorey

      Hissyfittz, yes, really. Families are not the victim of anything but their own guilt for their own failures. But, when one does not have as much expertise working in this field as I do, it is easy for someone like you to question things you do not yet understand.

      Reply
      1. Prinnie (Post author)

        Seriously? I don’t see how a family can be accused of being a failure when their child has been viciously murdered. How do you come to the conclusion that they are at fault? Just curious, of course.

        Reply
  9. hissyfittz

    As a therapist I suggest you seek professional health. I cannot imagine the world you live in where victims families are at fault. I must agree with Prinnie and ask “How do you come to this conclusion?”

    Reply
    1. JanCorey

      I don’t believe Prinnie needs professional help as you claim hissyfittz and no professional in the area of mental health or criminal justice would ever make a comment as you did. at least if they actually knew what they were talking about. Best wishes on your recovery hissyfittz, we will pray for you.

      Reply
      1. Prinnie (Post author)

        She didn’t say I needed mental help – she said she agreed with me and asked as I did – how do you conclude that family’s are to blame for the deaths of their children?

        Reply
      2. elena mitchell

        Ah, do I hear shades of a Fundamentalist? And HissyFittz wasn’t talking to Prinny, she was talking to you, JanCorey. Another one who doesn’t read posts. Or were you just trying to be a smart arse?

        Reply
    2. Prinnie (Post author)

      Just out of curiosity, and as someone who has a therapeutic background – do you think that most of these people could have some sort of antisocial personality disorder? I know you can’t diagnose, but I really believe that these people are mentally ill and that they feed off of each others’ frenzy. It’s like watching hystrionic groupthink in progress. They hate me because I have commented on their abhorrent behavior. I guess only they are entitled to Free Speech as they see it. Whatever is wrong with them, they are all mentally unhealthy and obsessed with a dead child. JMO

      Reply
      1. elena mitchell

        As far as The Brit Pack are concerned, Madeleine McCann is dead, despite the fact that they don’t have a scrap of proof.
        Personally, I think they get their kicks from imagining dead children, and abusing their families. This is definitely sick, but no one has a name for it yet.

        Reply
  10. JanCorey

    Prinnie, I agree that Hissyfittz clearly does not appear to understand the Law or how the mental heath agencies actually work here in the United States. Hissy is definately not alone, there are likely millions like her that believe as Hissy does, and I am fine with that. I just choose to stand on the side of the evidence and facts. Keep up the great work you are doing Prinnie, love your blogs!

    Reply
    1. Prinnie (Post author)

      You haven’t answered the question. What drives your opinion that family’s are to blame?

      Reply
  11. JanCorey

    Yes I did Prinnie, the family transfers their own guilt about their own failures onto any and all defendants. Typical behavior, documented and well proven, that is one of the many reasons why most prosecutors cannot obtain convictions on all of the charges they levy unto most defendants.

    Reply
    1. Prinnie (Post author)

      I can see where they would have some transferal of emotion because as human beings, I think we are all guilty of doing so at one point or another. That being said, the way I read your comments were that you blame the family for the occurrence. Perhaps I am misinterpreting, because I think given anything in the world a family would want nothing more than to go back and protect their child. We all have moments of “what ifs” and “coulda, shoulda, woulda”. But I do not blame the family for a murderer’s actions. Are there situations in which more care should have been taken in supervising a child who has fallen prey to a monster? ABSOLUTELY, but for the most part these men are predators and are going to find a way to abduct and murder children regardless of how supervised they are.

      Actually, if you have some links to some articles about this transferal and inability to obtain convictions – I’d like to read them.

      Reply
      1. JanCorey

        Prinnie, I agree, the family is partly responsible imo, statistics bear that out. Links, I have tons but do not need them to confirm the facts about these enabling-family-members.

        Reply
        1. Prinnie (Post author)

          I’m not asking you to confirm, (this isn’t Websleuths LOL) I asked for links because I really am interested in reading the studies.

          Reply
          1. JanCorey

            Prinnie, I have access to thousands of Links on this subject stored off-site with back-up securities to prevent loss. What I am relaying to you is comments derived from a knowledgeable and studied batch of information as well as years of professional hand‘s-on experience. Some Links are available on the open-internet, but many require authorization codes to get into the secured site versions. Still though, I highly encourage anyone still stumped over why the families are to blame in part for the actions of others to seek out information that can give them a quick-buzz-education on issues they still remain a bit desolate of.

          2. Prinnie (Post author)

            I have access to my university’s library. Provide me with some suggested authors and titles so I can pull some of them.

  12. JanCorey

    Example: I will bet money that the family of Trayvon Martin has the propensity of being at-fault for not intervening enough or successfully enough to stop Trayvon from attacking George Zimmerman,being high illegally at the time of the shooting or in Trayvon getting suspended from school so many times ot having gold teeth or other violations not tolerated or accepted by the “normal“ family. I also suspect the family of Casey Anthony had a large part in reasons why Casey has been proven to be a liar (not a murderer). Ect., ect., ect., case after case.

    Reply
    1. Prinnie (Post author)

      I agree regarding both. Our familial connections do have a huge impact on who we become, and when there are no boundaries or accountability for bad behavior. In that aspect, then absolutely a family does bear responsibiilty in the actions of their child, however, I do have to state that IMO the Zimmerman case is one that snowballed all to hell. It was a matter of a series of events that just continued to spiral out of control and in the end, no one wins. Ya know? I think your comments previously have been explained. I hate to be a victim blamer, but yes…there are certainly instances in which ones’ own behavior and actions, as well as their social background has put them in dangerous situations.

      Reply
  13. JanCorey

    Prinnie, I have degrees in this stuff so I did my research. Professionally, I have obtained countless Links. I suggest you do your own research because spoon-feeding is something I teach others to not do because it creates a deficit in the receiver for not learning to do their research on their own for times when they will need it down the road.

    Reply
    1. Prinnie (Post author)

      I’m not asking to be spoonfed. I’m working on a Masters in Psych – so am quite capable of finding material, but if you have some suggested authors, I would be more than willing to do the research myself to read the articles.

      Reply
      1. JanCorey

        I have may authors I am familiar with and have a collection of books in the multi-hundreds. I think what you are describing is involving the topics of how Law and mental heath issues are often co-dependant and that might give you an avenue of pursuit.

        Reply
  14. JanCorey

    Prinnie, sounds like you may be surprised at what happens to George Zimmerman at trial and why the prosecutor will likely lose their jobs after the trial, just like in the Casey Anthony case, remember?

    Reply
    1. Prinnie (Post author)

      The state once again tossed together a case based on public outcry. I guess it is now precedent to allow defendants to be tried in the court of public opinion rather than a court of law.

      Reply
      1. JanCorey

        Sure seems that way Prinnie. Keep up the great job you are doing.

        Reply
  15. Freetonia

    I live down the road from San Quentin – I see the prison from the parking lot of the Nordstroms, I hope nobody expects me to feel bad about those men on death row. They are there for a reason, and if they’ve lost hope like James Crummel did and kill themselves, well a hearty thanks for saving us some money. This man killed and raped children, some never found for over 30 years and if he was so sad about being on death row, maybe he shouldn’t have been raping and strangling little boys. Those men on death row, all of them should have been off the streets after their first crimes, but judges handing out light sentences and parole allowed these monsters out among us and young children doing nothing more than walking to school. If they are sad, imagine the sadness they caused in their miserable, nasty, dirty, violent lives. Save the pity for the victims and their families. I couldn’t be happier to hear prisoners are without hope and depressed, they share that feeling with the victims families who never committed any crime and yet suffer every single day with no relief but death themselves, they share that. Frankly I wish the whole system would be fixed but my issues are financial, not about whether they live or die. I’d like to take every child molester out to a desert compound where food and water is dropped from a helicopter once a month, and let the chips fall where they may. No one who abuses a child should be let out among us again, they never stop and Crummel is the poster example of that true fact.

    Reply
    1. JanCorey

      Freetonia, you are assuming that those convicted people are actually guilty of the crime they were originally charged with, and many times the facts bear out they were never guilty of that charge in the first place. Thousands have already been freed after being wrongfully-incarcerated and hundred have been put to death only to find out later they were not guilty of the crime they were convicted. You are not alone though in your perspective, many people out there do not understand the Law and how the criminal justice works and sometimes doesn’t work so well.

      Reply
      1. truthfinder

        Wow JanCorey you are full of yourself aren’t you? I, for one understand the LAW and how it works very well. You seem to have the impression you are the only one here with an education. Do not assume , you will be sorely mistaken.

        Reply
  16. hissyfittz

    I hate to burst your bubble JanCorey…I am a Masters level professional mental health provider in the US with a specialization in child welfare and family violence among my other certifications and am currently working toward my PhD. I also have an indepth understanding of the Criminal Justice system.
    According to many theories of psychology, victim blaming occurs when the victim(s) of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment are held entirely or partially responsible for the transgressions committed against them (regardless of whether the victim actually had any responsibility for the incident). Blaming the victim has traditionally emerged especially in racist, sexist and classist forms. However, this attitude may exist independently from these radical views and even be at least half-official in some countries.

    Prinnie you are correct in my inability to diagnose due to the nature of our interaction but I can offer my professional, educated opinion. You stated; “It’s like watching hystrionic groupthink in progress. They hate me because I have commented on their abhorrent behavior.”
    This led me to case studies and the DSM-IV for answers. Here is what I found in just a few moments research.
    Also according to the DSM-IV, rationalization occurs “when the individual deals with emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by concealing the true motivations for his or her own thoughts, actions, or feelings through the elaboration of reassuring or self serving but incorrect explanations.”
    In practice psychiatrists tend to diagnose a belief as delusional if it is either patently bizarre, causing significant distress, or excessively pre-occupies the patient, especially if the person is subsequently unswayed in belief by counter-evidence or reasonable arguments. A difficulty with the diagnosis of delusions is that almost all of these features can be found in “normal” beliefs.
    And finally, projection reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the unwanted unconscious impulses or desires without letting the conscious mind recognize them. Projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people. Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others originate those feelings. An example of this behavior might be blaming another for self failure. The mind may avoid the discomfort of consciously admitting personal faults by keeping those feelings unconscious, and by redirecting or “projecting,” those same faults onto another person or object.

    Reply
    1. hissyfittz

      Please excuse the Also…I deleted the sentence and missed the word.

      Reply
    2. Prinnie (Post author)

      Oh these people absolutely project! NO DOUBT about it.

      Reply
  17. JanCorey

    Only a Masters level hissyfittz, gosh I remember those days of early education. Clearly you are not obtaining the grades that I received because you have demonstrate character-flaws that are quite obvious to the trained-eye. The role of this blog is not set up to deal with your disagreements or refusals to deal with proven facts. That’s your own issues I will no longer go into that here. This blog is intended for the post-topic: Victim Families, not your inabilities to function as a rational and informed individual. Get your education on your own time and don’t bore us here with your struggles of getting an education so late in your efforts. Best of luck to you, good luck on those you appear to still need, I expect several. Stay true to your goals and show us you come overcome your current obstacles.

    Reply
    1. truthfinder

      You are in need of grammatical help JanCorey. For one that CLAIMS to be so educated you missed the whole point , didn’t you? Guess that higher education you brag about didn’t teach you everything did it? Lacking among your classes was common sense and grammar .
      Now if you want to discuss the blog post as a rational poster , we would be willing to do so. But do not think that your CLAIMS of higher education hold water here. I can CLAIM to be a sitting member of the SCOTUS, does it make me one? Then again how do you know I am not?

      Reply
      1. elena mitchell

        She is just downright rude, if you ask me, apart from delusional and ignorant, of course. God knows I have tried to keep out of this, but that last post of JanCorey is just too much.

        Reply
    2. Prinnie (Post author)

      This wasn’t necessary. Why resort to personal attacks? It’s not that difficult to debate in a respectful manner. Really rather disappointed that you did this.

      Reply
      1. elena mitchell

        Pitch Forking at it’s finest level. Attack the intelligence of the opposition. It makes me feel ill. And I am sick of it.

        Reply
  18. JanCorey

    I agree Prinnie, the attacks are ridiculous against those who are simply more-knowledgeable. But, that is typical conduct from those people less-informed. Still though, keep up the great work you are doing here, it is great to see such a wide range in levels of abilities and life-positioning here from others. If only we could help them all, but they first need to want the help first.

    Reply
    1. truthfinder

      Are you serious? I doubt that Prinnie was speaking to anyone here but you. You might want to seek that help that you speak of.

      Reply
      1. elena mitchell

        Don’t you just love the intellectual superiority, especially when they don’t make sense. This Corey character is a Wind Up Merchant if ever I saw one.

        Reply

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