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14-year-old allegedly kills parents in Collier County

Dec. 9, 2010
Alexander Crain, 14, stands in court Friday morning during his first appearance. Crain has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the slaying of his parents. / WINK-News
Collier County deputies have arrested Alexander Crain, far left, and charged him with second-degree murder in the deaths of his parents, Thomas and Kelly Crain. / special to
Amanda Inscore/the news-press A crime scene van from the Collier County Sheriff's Office sits in the driveway Thursday as investigators continued investigate where the bodies of Thomas and Kelly Crain were found in their Golden Gate Estates home. / Amanda Inscore/
Nacny Ward, center, the grandmother of Alexander Crain, stand outside a Collier courthouse this morning. Crain, 14, allegedly killed his parents on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010. / Denes Husty III/


9:05 A.M. — Judge Elizabeth Krier has ruled that Alexander Crain, 14, will be held at the Collier County Juvenile Detention Center for 21 days in a hearing this morning. His arraignment was set for Dec. 30.

Crain is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the slaying of his parents.

He is accused of shooting and killing Thomas, 40, and Kelly Crain, 39.

“He’s confused, he’s in shock. The pictures in the papers sum it up” said Lee Hollander, his court appointed attorney.

In the audience are 16 family members including his grandmother, who requested to stand by his side during the proceeding.

Assistant State Attorney Rich Montecalvo said that he would like a decision to be
made in three weeks whether to be charged as a juvenile or as an adult.

If charged as an adult, he faces life in prison if convicted.

From this morning on


Many people in Collier County are wondering what would prompt a 14-year-old high school student to allegedly shoot and kill his parents inside their Golden Gate Estates home.

“That’s the million-dollar question. It’s a very sad day,” said Collier sheriff’s Capt. Chris Roberts.

However, detectives uncovered enough evidence to charge Alexander Crain with two counts of second-degree murder in the Thursday morning slayings of his parents, Thomas Crain, 40, and Kelly Crain, 39. He’s being held at the Collier County Juvenile Detention Center, where he could stay for up to three weeks while authorities decide if he will be prosecuted as a minor or an adult.

Alexander was taken into custody after deputies received a 911 call and arrived at 8:40 a.m. at the two-story house. The Crain residence sits near a canal interspersed with other modest homes on 47th Avenue Northeast, a dead-end road in the community east of Naples.

Inside, deputies found the bodies of Alexander’s parents in the master bedroom, according to a Collier sheriff’s office report. Both had been shot.

Deputies immediately sought a search warrant from a judge to begin a murder investigation.

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Alexander was a freshman at Palmetto Ridge High School, Counselors will be on hand at the school this morning to assist any students who might need help, school district officials said.

Friends and relatives are stunned.

“It’s like a daydream right now. You guys have got to be talking about someone else,” said family friend Ray Tyler, 50.

Tyler said he has known the family for years and was helping with work around their house.

Alexander, the youngest of the couple’s three children, “seemed like one of those little teenage kids that you want to keep an eye on,” Tyler said.

He said that Thomas Craig told him that Alexander has “some problems, but all kids have problems.”

Alexander’s half brother, Nicholas Straight, 22, of Naples, was too upset to comment.
“I don’t want to talk, not today,” he said.

Alexander’s other half brother, Jonathan, 19, just graduated from Army basic training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

All three boys “were sweethearts,” said neighbor Kimberly West.

While she and others were dealing with the shock of the slayings, crime scene investigators and detectives worked late into the night Thursday gathering evidence, trying to find clues to give them more information about the murders.

“We believe we’ve recovered the weapon,” Roberts said. He refused to say what kind of gun it is, or how many times the parents were shot.

The bodies were removed from the house by medical examiners after 7 p.m. An autopsy will be conducted to officially determine the cause and manner of the parents’ deaths, Roberts said.

There was nothing on record with the sheriff’s office to indicate there were problems at the Crain household, Roberts said.

He said deputies had never been called to the house before Thursday morning and Alexander did not have a local juvenile criminal record.

From appearances, the parents were an average, middle-class couple. Thomas Crain owned a screening and aluminum business where his wife worked as the secretary.

Perhaps evidence found at the scene, and interviews with friends and relatives, will help detectives figure out if the killings were planned or spontaneous, Roberts said.

Laura Streyffeler, a Fort Myers mental health counselor, gave some insight as to what can cause children to kill their parents.

“When kids kill their parents, it’s usually gang-related, drug-related, or money-related,” Streyffeler said.

Or there could be “an undiagnosed serious mental health issue,” she added.

What makes this case so unusual is that both parents were killed, Streyffeler said.

A child may kill one parent who is abusive toward the other as an act of protection, Streyffeler said.

Or a child may kill a parent as an act of self defense, she said.

“A kid killing a parent is something that’s not common. It’s even more unusual to kill both parents. I can’t think of a time that that’s happened,” Streyffeler said.

— Staff writers Evangelia Ganosellis and Dayna Harpster and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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