Fifth arrest made in case of kids buried in Effingham

Mark Anthony Wright

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Mark Anthony Wright

Effingham County authorities have charged another person in connection with the deaths of two children found buried last month behind their family’s home.

Mark Anthony Wright, 31, the brother of the children’s stepmother, has been arrested because investigators believe he knew of the abuse Mary and Elywn Crocker Jr. suffered, the Effingham Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday. Like his sister, mother and the children’s father, Elwyn Crocker Sr., Wright faces charges of child cruelty.

The remains of the siblings, who were both 14 years old when they were last seen, were discovered a few days before Christmas in the rural town of Guyton, roughly 30 miles from Savannah, by deputies. Neither had been reported missing, but the boy hadn’t been seen in perhaps as long as two years, and the girl in two months. Both were said to be home-schooled.

Deputies went to the home after a tipster called 911 with concerns about the whereabouts of the girl.

After an interview with the father, deputies dug up two spots in the backyard where the family kept their dogs and found the bodies.

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Investigators haven’t said what role, if any, they believe Wright played in the abuse, but the fact that he lived in the house for a time was enough to bring charges. Wright’s current address wasn’t immediately available.

“If their injuries were apparent and obvious, then he was just as culpable,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Gena Sullivan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The father of the children, who turned 50 on Christmas and until recently played Santa at a nearby Walmart in Rincon, has been charged with concealing a death. The same charges have also been filed against his wife, Candice Crocker, 33, her mother, Kim Wright, 50, and Wright’s boyfriend, Roy Anthony Prater, 55.

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The cause of death for the children hasn’t been determined and no specific allegations have been made about how the children were allegedly abused.

Those who knew the family have told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution they saw signs of trouble, but the family explained them away. The girl was seen repeatedly in the yard doing work, so much so that her hands were red, next-door neighbor Gary Bennett said.

Daniella Gills, 14, who used to ride bikes and have sleepovers with Mary when the Crockers lived in nearby Rincon, recalled seeing bruises on the boy and redness in the girl’s face. Mary seemed nervous around her own home, Daniella said.

Daniella’s dad, Marvin Gills, and Bennett both said they wished in hindsight they would have done more to help the kids, but they had no idea know how severe the problems were and knew that the family liked to be private.

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