Father who buried two children in his own backyard perhaps kept third child alive to profit off disability checks
At the time police took him out of the home, he had reportedly not his seen his mother for over nine years. And it is only now that neighbors are coming forward with information.
New details are continuing to emerge in the murders of a 14-year-old girl and her brother who were found buried in the backyard of their home in the 400 block of Rosebud Place, Guyton, in Effingham County. Deputies from the sheriff's office arrested the father and three other family members in the deaths, with a third child found living in the home transported to the local hospital and kept under observation.
According to Crime Online, the third child, who is an 11-year-old boy suffering from cerebral palsy, is now in the custody of the Department of Family and Children's Services. At the time police took him out of the home, he had reportedly not his seen his mother for over nine years and another family member has speculated that he was kept alive so the father, who worked as a Walmart Santa, could profit off his disability checks.
Speaking to NBC 3 under the condition of anonymity to protect their own children, the family member said, "I don't think it was for financial gain I think this happened because financially he couldn't take care of him I think the only reason something didn't happen to [a younger child in the home] is because they were receiving an SSI check for him that would have cut off payment for him and that's what they were living off of."
When police arrived at the residence on a tip about 14-year-old Mary Crocker, who was believed to be missing and feared dead, they suspected the family was hiding something at the home. The statements of the father, 49-year-old Elwyn Crocker, led them to search the property and they discovered the body of not only Mary Crocker but also that of her 14-year-old brother Elwyn Crocker Jr., the latter of whom had not been seen or heard from since November 2016.
They subsequently arrested Crocker, his wife, 33-year-old Candice Crocker, and the children's step-grandmother, 50-year-old Kim Wright, and charged them with concealing the death of another and cruelty to children in the first degree.
The step-grandmother's boyfriend, 55-year-old Roy Anthony Prater, was arrested the next day and charged with concealing the death of another, cruelty to children in the first degree, and possession of a scheduled or controlled substance.
Speaking about the case, sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said the children could have been saved if the police had been called earlier. While neighbors approached authorities on the day they checked on the residence to say they were concerned for the kids, police said they had not received any prior complaints concerning the family.
According to WSAV, the Effingham County School District, both children had been students in the Effingham County School District. Elwyn Jr. was withdrawn in January 2014 when he was a 6th grader. Mary was withdrawn at the beginning of this past school year. "The information on record indicates that both students were transferred to a homeschool program at the time of withdrawal," according to a statement from Effingham County School District officials.
"People hear things. People see things," he said. "Of course, all day today, people have been coming up to us, ‘Well, I saw this and I saw that,’ but for whatever reason, they didn’t feel comfortable enough to call and let us know that."
The 11-year-old boy's mother, Rebecca Self, told WTOC the neighbors were at least partially responsible for the teens' deaths. "After seeing all of the comments of people in the trailer park, they’re the ones that called the sheriff’s department, they’re the ones that did this," she said. "Where were you when all of this happened? Why didn’t you say anything? Why did you not just push the case? You could have saved that little girl’s life."
Autopsies are being performed to determine a cause of death. Officials say the results could lead to additional charges.