LACEY — The father of a 3-year-old boy was charged in Montana Tuesday with killing his son.
The child from Lacey was found dead in a rural field in Montana Tuesday morning. Family members say the mother is in disbelief and that she does not think her husband is capable of hurting their son.
The family says the father, Jeremy Cramer, and his son Brody were best friends and did everything together, from camping to fishing.
Cramer is a man with no violent criminal history, police say.
But Brody’s “body was found just off the highway in some kind of field,” Lacey police spokesperson Jim Mack said.
The boy was found dead around 6 a.m. Tuesday in Anaconda-Deer Lodge County in Montana, more than a nine-hour drive from his Lacey home.
The mom called police Monday afternoon to say she couldn’t reach her husband and son since they left the home together that morning. Lacey police say an Amber Alert was not issued because the mom believed her son was not in any danger.
“Knowing we couldn’t have done the Amber Alert, we did what we called ‘attempt to locate’ and found out he used his credit card and was located in Moses Lake,” Mack said.
From Eastern Washington, Cramer crossed into Idaho, then Montana, where a convenience store clerk called police saying he spotted the father washing blood off his clothes in the store’s bathroom. The 38-year-old was arrested but there was no Brody and no car.
“We said, Where is the child? They said, ‘There is no child.’ And so they started to diligently search,” Mack said, referring to Montana law enforcement.
Police located Cramer’s car about 5 miles southeast of Anaconda. Police say the boy was found not too far away from the vehicle.
In Lacey, a neighbor said the news was surreal for a family that seemed happy.
“The person seemed like a very family-oriented guy, there was nothing suspicious, just a normal guy doing yard work quite a bit,” said neighbor Abdul Khan.
“No issues of domestic violence or child abuse at all; we have no history over at the house, no issues like that,” said Mack.
As Cramer sits in a Montana jail cell on $250,000 bail, police say they don’t know what caused the father to snap.
“He seemed somewhat distraught at times. He didn’t say much except to say he understood the bond conditions; he didn’t even enter a plea at this time. In Montana, deliberate homicide is as bad as it gets,” said Ananconda-Deer Lodge County prosecutor Ben Krakowka.
Deliberate homicide is equivalent to first-degree murder. Lacey police say they don’t know if disputes over finances played a role but they say the couple has fallen into hard times lately. Cramer has been unemployed for nearly a year.
The family says there will be a Brody fund set up at US Bank for anyone who wants to help pay for the funeral.