Monday, May 3, 2010

A Mother's Missing Son

By Rick Guevara

Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays, all significant days normally celebrated throughout the year that are associated with loved ones spending time together. But for one former Dobbs Ferry mother, these days bring little joy, as she still wonders what happened to her son, Martin “JR” Crumblish, when he disappeared 28 years ago.

Dobbs Ferry is a two-and-a-half square mile bedroom community populated by 10,600 residents in Westchester County, NY. Located in the northeast section of this NYC suburb is a 76-acre woodland preserve called the Juhring Estate. A frequently travelled area during the day time by dog-walkers and hikers, it is more popular for the local teens as a night-time party spot during the summer months.

Late on May 2, 1981, 17-year-old Martin “JR” Crumblish left a beer party which had been held with a few friends at a Juhring Estate clearing known as The View. Sometime shortly after his friends returned home, “JR” Crumblish disappeared and has never been seen since.

Concerns over “JR” Crumblish’s disappearance began early that morning when he failed to show up for the SAT exam he had signed up to take. When the day wore on and there still had been no sign of him his mother, Karen Kelly, became worried and contacted the Dobbs Ferry Police Department.

The disappearance was initially classified as a missing person case. Initial investigating officers handled the case as such because “JR” had told many people he had wanted to run away, possibly back to California where his father resided.

At the time of the report, “JR” was described as a white male, 155 lbs, 6 feet 1, with blond hair and blue eyes. The only discerning feature was that he had a gap between his two front teeth.

Martin George Crumblish was born on January 7, 1964, in Dobbs Ferry, NY. Because his father was also Martin Crumblish, his parents found it easier to call him “JR.” After his parent’s divorced, “JR’s” dad moved back to California but “JR” stayed with his mother at 7 Keller Lane in Dobbs Ferry.

“JR” was described as being a good student early on, but in his teens began to experiment as many youths do with alcohol and drugs. After that his grades began to suffer and he began to have more run-ins with the local police. His mother described his as a sweet person but was not recognizable during those occasions when he was intoxicated. After he became uncontrollable, “JR” moved in with his uncle who also resided in Dobbs Ferry, . “JR” would frequently stay at friends homes as well.

As the days passed, rumors abounded as to the fate of “JR” Crumblish. His mother, Karen Kelly, told police that her son had been having some difficulty with several local youths. This disagreement stemmed from their belief that “JR” had told police that they may have been in possession of stolen property. She added that on
several occasions these youngsters had chased him home.

Karen Kelly hoped that her son would return; however, years slowly passed by and “JR” Crumblish never resurfaced. His identity and social security numbers were never used again in any capacity.

In 2002, Dobbs Ferry Police reclassified “JR” Crumblish’s missing person case as a homicide. Police officials are not discussing what, if any new leads have been developed. However all information in their possession suggests that the Dobbs Ferry teen was killed sometime after leaving the party.

Over the years, the Dobbs Ferry Police have been systematically chasing down all leads, hoping that one may lead to locating the missing youth.

In 2001, armed with new information, the Dobbs Ferry Police Department was assisted by “Storm,” one of three New York City cadaver dogs. These specially trained animals are used to either detect the presence of methane gases, which are common in decaying bodies or skeletal remains. During the search, “Storm” alerted his handler to a location not far from “The View.” Detectives from the Dobbs Ferry Police Department began digging, however their search turned up nothing.

That same year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was also tapped by Dobbs Ferry Police Detectives for assistance. Michael Harris, a retired New York City detective who is a volunteer with the center, was assigned to the case. After thoroughly looking over all available paperwork, it is his belief that that Crumblish met with an untimely death.

“Martin never left Dobbs Ferry that night or any other night. He’s still there, probably in a shallow grave…the key is to find him, because making a homicide case is hard without a body,” said Harris.

Harris added, “There are witnesses out there who know what happened, people lose their loyalties as time passes…it’s a matter of getting to them.”

A suicide attempt was ruled out a long time ago as a body would have turned up. Harris also said, “We don’t know exactly what happened to him, but it wasn’t a stranger who did it.”

Karen Kelly, who no longer resides in Dobbs Ferry, said that his last words to her when he walked out that night almost 30 years ago was, “I love you mommy.”

Kelly said, “I want his body placed to rest. I want a prayer said over his grave. He deserves that much. Anyone does.”

Lt. James Guarnieri, who is in charge of the Dobbs Ferry detective division, still works on the case and stated that the department still has contact with Karen Kelly. Police urge anyone with information in regards to this case to contact the Dobbs Ferry Police Department Detective Division at (914) 693-5500. All information will be kept confidential.

Rick Guevara is a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas College, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He has 18 years in law enforcement and is a Sergeant with the Dobbs Ferry Police Department. He served five years as an operator with the Town of Greenburgh SWAT team and was one of two of the team’s less lethal munitions instructors.

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