On the 20th of December, 2018, the Effingham county sheriff's office received a phone call concerning the well-being of a local teenage girl named Mary Crocker. The caller said she “feared” for the 14 year old girl’s safety after learning disturbing information about the child’s abusive home life.
The local authorities were no stranger to the address on Rosebud place. Officers had received complaints about the residents and their dogs before, they had also responded to complaints of domestic disturbances and fights between the several adults living there. The Division of Family and Children Services had also been alerted to problems in trailer home over the years, but nothing came of the visits.
When police arrived at the scene, neighbors in the area expressed their concern for the welfare of the children in home, but their complaints came all too late.
Officers questioned Mary’s father, then 49 year old Elwyn Crocker Sr., about the whereabouts of his 14 year old daughter. Elwyn Sr. told them that she was out of town with her biological mother in South Carolina, but when presented with further questions he buckled under the pressure and eventually lead police through the backyard behind the trailer home where he admitted Mary was buried. Police cordoned off the area and began digging. Not only did they find the body of Mary Crocker, they also discovered the remains of her older brother, Elwyn Crocker Junior, who had been missing since 2016.
Disturbingly, Mr. Crocker, who worked as a maintenance man at a local Wal-Mart, was also hired as a mall Santa in December, just over a month after allegedly abusing his own child to death.
It is believed that Mary died sometime around October 28th last year. Autopsy results are pending and although the cause of death has not yet been confirmed, police believe there is enough evidence to charge. The remains of Mary’s brother, Elwyn Junior, will also be examined and future charges may be applied.
Investigation into the death of Mary and the involvement of the adults who lived with her uncovered years of abuse, cruelty and murder that had somehow managed to go undiscovered on the 400 block of Rosebud place in a rural patch of Guyton, Georgia. All adults were arrested for cruelty to children in the first degree and concealing the death of another person.
The adults listed as living at the residence were identified as:
-Elwyn Crocker Sr., 50 – Father of the victims
- Candice Crocker, 33 – Wife of Elwyn Crocker Sr. and step-mother of the victims.
- Kim Wright, 50 – Mother of Candice Crocker and Step-grandmother of the victims.
-Roy Anthony Prater, 55 – Boyfriend of Kim Wright
- Mark Anthony (Tony) Wright- Step-Uncle of the victims.
Mary had suffered terrible abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to protect her. When police searched the home they found a large dog cage in the kitchen. Throughout the weeks leading up to her death Mary had been confined to the cage daily, forced to spend long and unrelenting periods of time in uncomfortable and contorted positions that caused her joints to burn and swell with pain. At this point, she was so malnourished that it was likely laborious just to breathe or lift a limb. Online articles reporting on the case mention a disturbing image found on Elwyn Crocker’s cell phone. In the image, Mary, just skin and bones at this point, is standing completely naked in front of the dog crate. It was later revealed that she had spent all most 24 hours a day in the cage as she grew closer to end of her short life and that she had been bound at the wrists with cable ties, beaten, struck with a Taser and denied food. Any food she was offered on rare occasions was said to have been drowned in rice vinegar, spoiling it to the point that it was virtually inedible. When Mary was caught taking food without permission out of pure desperation she would be beaten. One article states that her 11 year old brother, James, who suffered from cerebral palsy, was instructed to beat her too and did so with the aid of household objects. The adults in the home allegedly told him that Mary had “stolen his food”.
Neighbors later told reporters and investigating officers that they had seen Mary working in the yard for hours on end to the point of exhaustion. They went on to say that the yard work was well beyond a chore fit for a young teenager. They described her hands as being red and raw and admitted that they noticed abrasions and marks on her body. They noticed that she always looked afraid, seemed to be scared of her own home and never once did they see her smile.
Mary kept her pain to herself and kept the abuse and torture she was going through at home well hidden. Perhaps she did so out of fear of harsh repercussions.
When asked why they beat, starved and abused their children to death, the adults involved stated that it was “punishment”.
Tony Wright, who was living in the house at the time, claimed that he was unaware of the abuse inflicted on young Mary. In a statement to the police he testified that after hearing Elwyn and Candice bickering in the kitchen one night, possibly planning to kill off James, “just like Mary”, he called an Aunt who lived out of town to tell her. His Aunt, in turn, dialed 911 to advise police perform a welfare check at the home.
This article, however, states that Tony Wright may have had a history of abuse towards the Crocker kids, mentioning an incident where he allegedly once struck Elwyn Junior in the face. This was not the only incident.
It was later discovered that Mary had been taken out of a county school to be home-schooled and that she had been missing for two months before her body was discovered. Nobody had seen the teenager since October 2018 and Elwyn didn’t report her missing, because he knew the truth. When faced with police questioning he claimed that he had helped cover up the death of his daughter and contributed to her abuse under the instruction of the children’s step-mother and step-grandmother.
The Crocker’s used to live in a trailer park on 9th Street in Rincon. In an interview for the Atlanta Journal Constitution an old neighbor describes his relationship with the Crocker family and his observations of their family dynamic. He described how his daughter got along well with Mary and how the two walked to school together five times a week until Mary was pulled out in favor of homeschooling. He goes on to say how things changed when Kim Wright began visiting the Crocker home regularly and admits that his daughter he even saw the 50 year old woman strike Mary across the head once. His daughter also reported to him that she had witnessed Junior endure strange punishments at hands of their step-grandmother.
Neighbors and friends of the family regret not stepping in or contacting the relevant authorities. James has been taken from the home.
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