Men Charged With Murder, Robbery In Cumberland Slayings

Michael Bell, Jeremy Priel Each Face Same Counts

Two men accused in the slayings of a Cumberland man and his 7-year-old niece were formally charged Wednesday.

Michael Bell, 22, and Jeremy Priel, 25, were charged with two counts each of murder and felony murder, and one count each of robbery and carrying a handgun without a license.

The men were arrested Sunday in connection with the Dec. 12 shooting deaths of Jeremy Crane, 21, and Kyleigh Crane, 7, in a home in the 600 block of Woodlark Drive.

According to the probable cause affidavit, the investigation began when Jeremy Crane's cellphone, which police said was stolen during the crime, was located two days after the slayings.

A woman told police she was riding IndyGo's No. 8 bus along East Washington Street in Cumberland on the afternoon of Dec. 12 when a man dropped the cellphone.

When she pointed it out to him, he told her she could keep the phone, she said.

Surveillance video on the bus showed Bell and Priel get on that afternoon carrying a large bundle of items, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Police said along with Jeremy Crane's cellphone, an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were stolen from the home.

When police searched the home where Bell had been staying, other residents said a woman who Bell had been sleeping with had given him a handgun, and that Bell was heard saying he wanted to rob a pizza delivery guy.

The night of the slayings, people staying at the home said Bell came in and asked if anyone would pawn an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, according to the probable cause affidavit.

"(He) was very nervous about all the police helicopters in the area, which was due to the police-action shooting on Pineneedle (the night of Dec. 12), and wanted to watch the news while he paced nervously in the house," residents told police, according to the probable cause.

On Friday, Bell and family members came to the Cumberland police department asking to speak with officers.

Investigators said Bell denied being at Jeremy Crane's home Dec. 12, and said he had been on the bus that day, but that he was riding alone.

Police served a search warrant later that day at the home where Bell had been staying and recovered the gun believed to have been used in the slayings under the woman's bed.

Two men came to Cumberland police Dec. 18 to say that they had bought an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 from Jeremy Priel, paying $40 and an ounce of marijuana, according to the probable cause affidavit.

"The PlayStation 3 appeared to have had blood on it when they bought it, so as the news coverage of the homicide on Woodlark began to release information about their being an Xbox and PlayStation 3 taken, the men became suspicious and decided to contact police," according to the probable cause affidavit.

When Priel was brought in for questioning, he told police Bell asked him to "go with him to a guy's house to get some stuff," and that Bell asked him to wait outside, according to the probable cause affidavit.

But police said video from the bus shows Priel trying to wipe his prints off a gun, which he later admitted to, investigators said.

After his arrest, Bell told police a different story, saying it was Priel who went into the house and that he waited outside, investigators said.

He later recanted that story, telling investigators that Priel had asked him if he knew where he could steal a PlayStation 3 and Xbox, and Bell said he volunteered his friend, Jeremy Crane, according to the probable cause affidavit.

"Bell state that Priel told everyone to get down on the ground and that while Jeremy Crane was lying down, Jeremy Priel walked over him and shot him," according to the probable cause affidavit.

Bell told police that Priel shot Jeremy Crane again when he heard him make a gasping sound.

Bell said he didn't see Kyleigh Crane get shot because he had run out of the house before he heard the shot, although police noted that no one else in the area reported hearing a shot, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Family members said Bell and Jeremy Crane were best friends and former classmates at Warren Central High School.

Bell and Priel were being held without bond Wednesday at the Marion County Jail. Their initial hearings were set for Thursday at 9 a.m.

Sources told RTV6 that Bell is on suicide watch at the jail.

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