Artist comes forward about Crumbleys' whereabouts after their capture, lawyer says

Hani Barghouthi
The Detroit News

Detroit — The lawyer for a Metro Detroit artist has identified his client as having a connection to the whereabouts of the parents of the alleged Oxford High school shooter during their disappearance last week.

Attorney Clarence Dass said Andrzej Sikora, 65, has contacted authorities in Detroit and Oakland County following the discovery of James and Jennifer Crumbley early Saturday in a commercial space linked to him in the 1100 block of Bellevue.

“Mr. Sikora has not been charged with any crime,” Dass said in a statement Sunday. “Nevertheless, upon learning of the Crumbleys’ arrest on Dec. 4, 2021, he voluntarily contacted the Detroit Police Department and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office to provide information. He maintains his innocence throughout this process and is fully cooperating with law enforcement to assist in their investigation.”

Andrzej Sikora, 65, has contacted authorities in Detroit and Oakland County following the discovery of James and Jennifer Crumbley early Saturday morning in a commercial space in the 1100 block of Bellevue linked to him.

The Detroit Police Department declined a request for comment, deferring to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office. 

"I cannot confirm his involvement," Second Deputy Chief Rudy Harper said Sunday afternoon.

Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe confirmed that Sikora’s attorney had contacted the Sheriff’s Office. An interview was being arranged for Monday afternoon, according to a release Sunday from the office of Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

"Andrzej Sikora, 65, will be interviewed Monday afternoon by Sheriff’s Detectives as to any connection he may have to the disappearance of Jennifer and James Crumbley," the release said.

"... They were arrested by Detroit Police early Saturday in a commercial building in the 1100 block of Bellevue near Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. The commercial space is linked to Sikora.

“We will vigorously investigate the totality of the situation so a determination can be made if there is any criminality or obstruction of justice involved,” Sheriff Michael Bouchard said. “Our findings will be presented to the prosecutor.”

McCabe declined to elaborate on specifics regarding the Crumbleys' relationship with Sikora and what, if any, criminal charges he potentially could face.

Police have said they are investigating who helped the Crumbleys, the parents of alleged Oxford High shooter Ethan Crumbley, get into the Bellevue building on Detroit's east side. The parents are charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shootings.

Detroit police Chief James White said in a press conference Saturday morning shortly after the couples' arrest that they had help getting into the building.

“They were aided, and we’re looking into that portion of the investigation, that part is very active now,” said White, adding police know who let them in.

At a Saturday afternoon press briefing, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the Sheriff's Office was asking the public for tips about a person who may have helped the Crumbleys.

"We believe they were assisted in that location, to get there and get in," Bouchard said. "We're gathering information and will present that to our prosecutor for potential charges for either aiding and abetting, or obstruction of justice."

Sikora appears to know at least one of the Crumbleys. The artist has been doing a mural of Lyle “Red” Knapp, whose relatives operate Red Knapp’s American Grill in Oxford, as part of a renovation of the place, according to a Nov. 18 story in the Oxford Leader.

Authorities say James and Jennifer Crumbley were found at this commercial building in the 1100 block of Bellevue in Detroit.

The cutline for the photo in the story has been erased. But a photo of Sikora for the story was taken by a Jehn Crumbley, according to an archived version of the story. Jehn is Jennifer Crumbley’s nickname.

Video obtained by CNN showed the Saturday morning arrests of the Crumbleys, and Sikora’s name and phone number were listed outside the basement room where they were apprehended. Sikora is a 65-year-old Polish immigrant who lives in Oakland County, according to his lawyer.

The phone number outside the room where the Crumbleys were captured is connected to a firm called Decora, which was founded in Detroit in 2011 and listed Sikora as a contact, according to a Dun & Bradstreet database.

Police said the Crumbleys were fugitives who hadn’t surrendered to authorities Friday and missed a Friday afternoon arraignment in 52nd District Court in Rochester Hills. The Crumbleys’ attorneys insist Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald’s office wasn’t communicative and the couple planned to turn themselves in.

The Crumbleys' son, Ethan, 15, is accused of killing four students and injuring six students and a teacher in a shooting Nov. 30 at Oxford High School. A 14-year-old female student who suffered wounds to her neck and chest was released Sunday from Hurley Medical Center in Flint, according to the release.

A 17-year-old female student was in stable condition at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital. She is the last of the injured students to remain hospitalized.

White during the Saturday morning briefing at the scene said a tip led police to the commercial building on Bellevue, where police set up surveillance before the couple were taken into custody.  McCabe said the tip came from a business owner who saw a woman near a vehicle believed to be owned by the Crumbleys.

The Crumbleys own a 2021 black Kia Seltos that could be seen parked near the building early Saturday.

Asked if there could be additional charges, White said Saturday it was likely. The department is “working an angle on one other person,” and that Detroit police would work with prosecutors in Wayne and Oakland counties.

White said the couple appeared to be hiding in the building, were not armed when they were arrested and appeared “very distressed as they walked out.” 

Police found them in the building "locked somewhere in a room, hiding," McDonald said during the couples' arraignment Saturday morning in 52nd District Court.

Staff Writers James David Dickson and Mike Martindale contributed.