Monday, July 22, 2013

Accused Montana Murderer Jeremy Brent Cramer Now Identified As A Mormon; Faces A Max Of 100 Years In Prison Or Death

Update December 17th 2013: Jeremy Brent Cramer pleaded guilty to murdering his three-year-old son, telling the judge he wanted to take accountability for his actions and end the ordeal. He said a prison sentence doesn't matter with his son dead. Cramer reached a plea agreement in which prosecutors will recommend a sentence of life in prison with no parole restrictions instead of the death penalty, but Judge Loren Tucker told Cramer that he is not bound by the plea agreement's recommendation, and that a presentencing investigation will be conducted. A date for the sentencing hearing has not been set.

The story of accused murderer Jeremy Brent Cramer took an unfortunate twist on July 22nd, 2013, when the Daily Mail reported that Cramer is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who asked to speak to someone high in the church hierarchy during his interrogation. They also report that "the church president for southwestern Montana spoke with Cramer for an hour, but Cramer did not reveal the boy's location" (this could be a local stake president in the Anaconda area or a mission president). The murder was first reported by several sources, including the Daily Mail and KRTV Channel 3 in Great Falls, shortly after it occurred on July 8th.

Background: Jeremy Cramer has lived in Lacey, WA for one year with his wife Natalie and his then-three year old son Brody. He had a number of strikes against him, including the fact that he was addicted to methamphetamine and had started taking Adderall as a substitute. Cramer had also been unemployed for about a year, and the financial situation created tension between him and his wife; he was mad at her because she didn't want them to do a road trip to the East Coast due to lack of money. On Monday July 8th, 2013, Jeremy decided to take little Brody out for a ride; this raised no suspicion because he and his son were considered to be best friends.

The Murder: Natalie Cramer soon became concerned and tried to call her husband more than 50 times, but he neither answered nor responded to any of her text messages. She checked their joint bank account and discovered that her husband had filled up his truck at a Moses Lake gas station, more than 200 miles away from home. After she called 911, local police issued a bulletin to look for Cramer's truck and perform a welfare check on the father and son, but no Amber Alert was issued because they had no indication that Brody Cramer was in danger. Finally around 10.30 pm on Monday, police in Anaconda-Deer Lodge got a call from a convenience store clerk reporting that he saw a man trying to wash blood off his hands and clothes in the restroom. The clerk had been tipped off by a man who had given Cramer a ride and thought Cramer was acting odd. The responding officer officer found Cramer in the restroom with his pants off attempting to wash away the blood. He told the officer that he had broken up a fight at a rest area, but he was arrested when he refused to put his clothes back on. Cramer's wife confirmed her husband's identity and asked police to find her son. Police also found bloody keys and a knife on Cramer, along with an empty container for a generic substitute of the drug Adderall. The container for the stimulant said the prescription was filled on July 3rd with 60 pills, and only two pills were supposed to be taken per day.

Aftermath: Cramer initially refused to provide any information about his son. But this is where the story begins to get odd. On July 9th at 5:27 a.m., Cramer called his father from the jailhouse and told him he had killed his son, but didn't know why. Cramer told his father that he started walking down the road, with Brody on his shoulders, after running out of gas and that the boy became "like some other kid when he was on my neck", then he remembered looking at his son's face and "I just died right there", according to the court transcript. He also reportedly said "Dad, he's dead, dead, dead, dead because I know he is. I just know it. I see a vivid picture of him looking at him before ahhh. He's dead, OK". He also couldn't remember how many pills he took. Screenshot from the July 22nd Daily Mail story:

Finally, police found Brody Cramer's beaten and stabbed body in a field on Mill Creek Road about five miles southeast of Anaconda around 6:00 A.M. on July 9th. They also found a knife and two rocks covered with blood and hair next to the body, along with a blanket and a global-positioning satellite unit. Cramer has been charged with deliberate homicide and is being held on $250,000 bond; his next court hearing is on July 30th. If convicted, he could face up to 100 years in prison, although KOIN Channel 6 reports the death penalty is also possible. A public defender has been appointed for Cramer, which implies that he might have some difficulty making bond. He will also be excommunicated from the LDS Church if found guilty; convicted murderers are ineligible for LDS membership without the approval of the First Presidency. The LDS Church does not customarily disclose disciplinary council outcomes publicly.

According to media reports, Cramer appeared distraught during his initial court appearance, weeping and grimacing while the charges against him were read. From his reaction after he was arrested, combined with the fact that all his pills were gone, his remark about the "devil" or "adversary" being out, and his lack of a prior criminal record, there's a good chance that his remorse is genuine. The drugs made him vulnerable to Satanic influence; Satan loves nothing more than to bring down a Melchizedek Priesthood holder. This is not meant to minimize his guilt, but there's doubt that Cramer was in his right mind when he killed his son. It is quite possible that Cramer's lawyer will pursue a defense based upon the influence of the drugs, although Montana doesn't allow an insanity defense, but instead allow a guilty but mentally ill verdict.

A Natalie and Brody Cramer Fund has been set up through any branch of US Bank. Contributors should specify the "Natalie and Brody Cramer Fund" on the check or money order.

LDS membership provides powerful spiritual tools to enable one to resist temptation and to progress spiritually. But it does not provide immunity against temptation or adversity; we are required to experience adversity as a condition of mortality. In fact, we agreed to the rules of engagement before we came down to earth, but our memories of the agreement are clouded so that mortality might be a truly spontaneous experience for us. Faith remains the key to spiritual success down here.

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