James Lee Crummel, the prime suspect in the 1995 disappearance of Jack Daniel “J.D.” Phillips, has died on death row. He hanged himself with an electrical cord, without leaving a note or anything. He was a serial child molester with a record for sex crimes against children dating back to the 60s. He was sentenced to death in 2004 for the 1979 kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 13-year-old Jamey Trotter. Jamey was kidnapped in 1979 (here’s a picture of him). In 1990, Crummel “found” his skull and took it to the police, saying he had been hiking when he discovered it in a national forest. It was 1996 before Jamey was identified. Seventeen years his family waited.
I knew about the Trotter case but this is the first time I’ve heard about Crummel being linked to J.D.’s case. They had thought of prosecuting him for J.D.’s presumed death at the same time he was prosecuted for Jamey Trotter’s murder. Crummel said he’d confess to J.D.’s murder if the prosecution agreed not to seek the death penalty against him, but the deal went nowhere (I can’t blame the prosecution for not going along with it, see the guy’s record below) and Crummel kept his mouth shut to the end.
The guy’s child-molesting exploits went back to the early sixties at least, and he was in all probability a serial killer. He confessed to another child’s murder in 1967 and was convicted in 1983, but the conviction was later overturned because of ineffective counsel and he pleaded guilty to kidnapping instead. Crummel also kidnapped and molested another kid and then beat him senseless and left him for dead. (He was facing thirty years for that stunt, but of course he got out in five…) Him “discovering” his own homicide victim’s remains is particularly brazen and creepy. Suppose he hadn’t done that? Jamey might even be listed on Charley if Crummel hadn’t decided to play that stupid game with the cops.
I feel very sorry for J.D.’s parents. They live in West Virginia now and his mom has advanced lung cancer — meaning she’s pretty much dying. I wonder if she believes she’ll see her son on the “other side.”
Articles about James Crummel re: J.D. Phillips
Closure eludes parents of missing Big Bear Lake boy*
Convicted killer James Lee Crummel commits suicide before disclosing info in San Bernardino cold case
Articles about Crummel in general
Child molester who hanged himself called ‘most evil person’
Boy’s Killer Hangs Himself At San Quentin “He remains a suspect in the disappearances of two other boys.” Who is the second one?
Inmate facing execution in O.C. case commits suicide in San Quentin
Calif. death row inmate convicted of killing 13-year-old boy found hanging in his cell
O.C. child killer’s twisted road to death row (very thorough and horrifying)
*About the first article link: courtesy photo! COURTESY PHOTO!? More like stolen photo. The photo was taken from Charley. I know because I cropped and enhanced the original NCMEC one, which has a weird bluish tint. If you look at J.D.’s Charley Project picture side by side with the SB Sun photo you’ll see they’re identical. I don’t mind them using pictures off my site, but “courtesy photo” implies that they showed some courtesy: like, asked me, or credited me. They did neither. Muttergrumble.