Five family members plead not guilty in deaths of Effingham County teens

Georgia News
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Five family members accused in the deaths of two Guyton teenagers were arraigned in court today.

Elwyn Crocker, Sr., Candice Crocker, Mark Wright, Kim Wright, and Roy Prater appeared before Judge Peed at the Effingham County courthouse and had their charges read against them before all five pleaded not guilty.

But not all five are charged in the deaths of Mary Crocker and Elwyn Crocker Jr. The father, Elwyn Crocker Sr., the stepmother, Candice Crocker, and the step-grandmother Kim Wright are charged with murder, and cruelty to children, and concealing the death of Mary and Elwyn Jr.

The teen’s uncle, Mark Wright, and the step grandmother’s boyfriend, Roy Prater face the same charges but only in the death of Mary. On Wednesday prosecutors released new information the children faced inside their own home leading up to their deaths.

“On multiple occasions, between the 1st day of October 2016 and the 30th day of November 2016, the exact date of the offense being unknown to grand jurors, did maliciously cause Elwyn Crocker Jr., a child under the age of 18, cruel, physical, and mental pain by beating and striking said child, withholding food from said child, and confining him to a dog crate,” Prosecutors say.

The documents reveal Elwyn Jr was killed on or around November 30, 2016. Two years before their bodies were found buried behind their home in Guyton last December.

In March, lead investigator Abby Brown testified at a bond hearing. She said their biological father Elwyn Crocker senior admitted to burying the two teens, Elwyn Crocker, Jr. and Mary Crocker.

“he did admit that mary crocker was in fact kept in a dog kennel, naked, in the kitchen the common area of the house, was zip tied so that she would not get out. We also learned from Mr. Crocker that, that was a form of punishment that she had food withheld from her,” Detective Abby Brown, Effingham County Sheriff’s Office says.

Crocker, Sr. also admitted Mary was tased and burned with hot water.

“We also learned through our investigation that they would do things to her food, such as putting rice vinegar in it and so forth to make it taste bad in hopes that she would not eat. They would not allow her to eat and if she did it was special food that was made just for her,” Brown said.

According to ECSO, the suspects have been moved out of the county to separate jail locations for their safety. Only one is being housed in Effingham County. 

The details are so horrific it prompted some change at the state capitol. Case files show the two teens were homeschooled. So, in March, Georgia lawmakers introduced a bill that would strengthen homeschool regulations. The bill stops parents from removing kids from school to avoid following attendance and disciplinary laws. It would also notify the Department of Family services if a child is withdrawn from school. 

We are waiting for the next court hearing. In the meantime, investigators have yet to release the exact cause of Mary and Elwyn Jr.’s death.

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