Five family members charged with murder after a 14-year-old girl was found buried in the backyard

Elwyn Crocker Snr. (shown), 50, has been jailed on charges of murder in relation to the death of his 14-year-old daughter, Mary, whose body was found buried in the backyard of his home in Georgia, on December 20

Elwyn Crocker Snr. (shown), 50, has been jailed on charges of murder in relation to the death of his 14-year-old daughter, Mary, whose body was found buried in the backyard of his home in Georgia, on December 20

Elwyn Crocker Snr. (shown), 50, has been jailed on charges of murder in relation to the death of his 14-year-old daughter, Mary, whose body was found buried in the backyard of his home in Georgia, on December 20

Five family members including a father who once worked as a Walmart Santa have been arrested after the bodies of two children were found buried in the backyard of a Georgia home.

Elwyn Crocker Snr., 50, has been jailed on charges of murder in relation to the death of his 14-year-old daughter, Mary, whose body was found five days before Christmas as officers carried out a child welfare check in Guyton.

Mary Crocker hadn’t been seen since October, police say.

An anonymous tip lead to an investigation of the property, where Mary was found buried in a muddy patch near a line of trees. 

Also unearthed during the grim discovery was the corpse of Elwyn Jr., 14, who hadn’t been seen since November 2016.

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Crocker formerly worked as a Walmart Santa Clause in Rincon. Officials say they're dumbfounded about how Elwyn Jr (right) was able to go missing for two years without it being reported. Mary (left) hadn't been seen since October

Crocker formerly worked as a Walmart Santa Clause in Rincon. Officials say they're dumbfounded about how Elwyn Jr (right) was able to go missing for two years without it being reported. Mary (left) hadn't been seen since October

Crocker formerly worked as a Walmart Santa Clause in Rincon. Officials say they’re dumbfounded about how Elwyn Jr (right) was able to go missing for two years without it being reported. Mary (left) hadn’t been seen since October

Candice Crocker, 33

Candice Crocker, 33

Kim Wright, 50

Kim Wright, 50

Candice Crocker, 33, (left) the children’s step-mother, and Kim Wright, 50, (right) their step-grandmother are also included in the criminal charges 

Candice's brother, Mark Right, 31 was arrested this week in relation to the murder

Candice's brother, Mark Right, 31 was arrested this week in relation to the murder

The apprehension of Kim's boyfriend Roy Prater, 55, soon followed

The apprehension of Kim's boyfriend Roy Prater, 55, soon followed

Candice’s brother, Mark Right, 31 (left) was arrested this week in relation to the murder. The apprehension of Kim’s boyfriend Roy Prater, 55 (right), soon followed

Effing County Sheriff Jim McDuffie refused to speculate whether Crocker Snr. would face charges in relation to Jr.’s death, but he insisted officials are carrying out a thorough investigation.

‘We’ve just got a lot more information on Mary because of course, it’s more recent. With Jr, it was two years old, and we’re just trying to put together the pieces on what happened with that,’ McDuffie told WTOC.

A third child, 11, who is said to have learning difficulties, was found alive and well at the property. He’s since been taken into the state’s care. 

Autopsies are being carried out to investigate Mary and Elwyn Jr.’s causes of death, but the results have not yet been finalized

Neither of the children had been reported missing by the Crocker family before their remains were found on December 20.

Elwyn Crocker Sr., Mary Crocker (middle left), Candice Crocker and Elwyn Crocker Jr. (right) with an unnamed third child

Elwyn Crocker Sr., Mary Crocker (middle left), Candice Crocker and Elwyn Crocker Jr. (right) with an unnamed third child

Elwyn Crocker Sr., Mary Crocker (middle left), Candice Crocker and Elwyn Crocker Jr. (right) with an unnamed third child

When questioned by officers inside the home, Crocker allegedly claimed Mary had gone to live with her mother in South Carolina.

Discovering the information to be ‘false and not accurate’, officers arrested the 50-year-old, which was soon followed by the apprehension of the children’s 33-year-old stepmother Candice Crocker and 50-year-old step-grandmother Kim Wright.

Candice’s brother Mark Wright, 31, and Kim’s boyfriend Roy Prater, 55, have now also been arrested in connection with the deaths, police revealed on Friday.

The five family members have all been issued a felony murder charge in addition to cruelty to children in the first-degree.

Each defendant has been placed in a different jail around the county for security reasons, police revealed. 

‘As the bodies come back, there may be more charges added at some point, once the autopsies are completed,’ McDuffie said.

‘We’re going to follow the letter of the law right up to the very tip of it that we can. We will get justice for these young folks.’

Elwyn Crocker Jr. (left) was 14 when he apparently disappeared in November, 2016, and Mary Crocker (right) was also 14 when she was last seen in October of this year

Elwyn Crocker Jr. (left) was 14 when he apparently disappeared in November, 2016, and Mary Crocker (right) was also 14 when she was last seen in October of this year

Elwyn Crocker Jr. (left) was 14 when he apparently disappeared in November, 2016, and Mary Crocker (right) was also 14 when she was last seen in October of this year

Both children were last enrolled at schools in the county during their sixth-grade year.

Mary last attended school during the 2017-2018 year, where as Elwyn Jr. last attended in 2014 before being withdrawn.

It’s believed that a number of reports of potential abuse towards the children had previously been filed to the Georgia Department of Family and Children services.

Speaking anonymously to WSAV, one neighbour claimed to witness Crocker Snr. shovelling the area where the children’s bodies were found on numerous occasions.

Another recalled how Mary would work for hours raking leaves in the yard outside their home at the Brother’s Keeper trailer park, until her hands were red.

‘That was from being out in the yard out there most of the time working, doing stuff from the time she got off that bus until they would go in at night,’ said Gary Bennett.

‘Then she would go to school and kids would see her and ask what was wrong, and she wouldn’t ever say anything. She wouldn’t open up to anybody.’

The two bodies were found by deputies near the treeline on the property of the Crocker home

The two bodies were found by deputies near the treeline on the property of the Crocker home

The two bodies were found by deputies near the treeline on the property of the Crocker home

An excavator was brought to the scene at the Crocker home in Guyton, Georgia, where two bodies were found

An excavator was brought to the scene at the Crocker home in Guyton, Georgia, where two bodies were found

An excavator was brought to the scene at the Crocker home in Guyton, Georgia, where two bodies were found

Earlier Crocker family photo from Facebook. With the investigation ongoing, Sheriff McDuffie says more charges could be forthcoming

Earlier Crocker family photo from Facebook. With the investigation ongoing, Sheriff McDuffie says more charges could be forthcoming

Earlier Crocker family photo from Facebook. With the investigation ongoing, Sheriff McDuffie says more charges could be forthcoming

Though dumfounded at how a child can go missing unreported for two years, police say they were familiar with the family’s troubled past.

In 2012 and 2013, Elwyn Snr. and Candice Crocker took mandatory counseling and parenting classes with Georgia Child Services following allegations Jr had been abused.

According to counsellors, Crocker seemed an ‘apathetic father’, telling them the state only required him to ‘feed, clothe and give shelter’ to his children – nothing more.

Jr had also allegedly been beaten by his step-uncle, Mark Wright, in June 2012.

Wright was later found to have backhanded the child after a Goodwill worker spotted a bruise on Jr’s face and called police.

A classmate and neighbour of the would-be 16-year-old also told school counsellors how she’d witnessed Jr’s step-grandmother, Kim Wright, whip him for more than an hour with a belt.

It’s unknown whether the boy was alive when the allegation was made in March 2017.

‘I’ve been doing this 41 years, and a while ago I almost broke down in tears. It’s that bad,’ Sheriff McDuffie said in his news conference. ‘I just – I cannot understand how you do children like this. It’s horrible.’

The investigation continues. 

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