Brother of young murder victim asks questions

Brayden Crane
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Updated: .

The younger brother of a girl killed in an east side home is asking questions about how a family friend could allegedly commit such an act.

The mother of seven-year-old Kyleigh Crane asked Eyewitness News to talk with her son, five-year-old Brayden, about the murders that left his sister and uncle dead. He is the one family member who has said nothing about the crimes, but is just old enough to understand that people he loves are never coming back and why.

"Why would you do such a thing?" Brayden asked of 22-year-old suspect Michael Bell. "You loved me and Kyleigh. You used to play with us. You was nice to us."

Now, Bell and 25-year-old Jeremy Priel are behind bars, accused of murdering Brayden's sister and his 21-year-old uncle, Jeremy. The Crane family says they don't know Priel, but Bell was once like family to them. He was Jeremy Crane's best friend and trusted by Kyleigh and Brayden.

"He was our uncle, too. He was one of our uncles," Brayden said.

"My kids talked about him all the time. I heard 'Uncle Mike. Uncle Mike. Uncle Mike'," said Holly Wilson, Brayden and Kyleigh's mother. "Kyleigh would color him pictures and he'd play with them."

According to the Cranes, Jeremy Crane and Bell played football together at Warren Central High School and Bell even lived with the Cranes up until about two months ago, when he lost his job and abruptly took his stuff and left.

"Nobody really knows. He never said why he left. He just left," Holly Wilson said.

The Cranes say when Bell was charged with rape and went to trial in 2007, Jeremy Crane was at the trial every day supporting his best friend. Now, the family waits to hear what the man who was Jeremy's best friend and Priel told police about the day Jeremy and Kyleigh died.

For little Brayden Crane, who's just old enough to understand his sister and uncle are never coming back and why, there are not enough answers to the one question he wants to ask Bell, a man he once loved and trusted.

"Why did you do that?" he asked.

That is a question that may never be answered completely. A question Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry will have to deal with in detail - Is this a death penalty case?

"Clearly, there are circumstances here that would qualify," Curry said Monday.

But the decision is not going to be made easily.

"When we took office, we put into place a review process for any case that qualifies for life without parole or death penalty consideration," Curry said. "We set up a review process where we have a committee within the office who will review the circumstances of those cases and make a determination down the road."

It's a decision the family is still poring over.

"We as a family are going to sit down and we are going to contemplate that," said Kyleigh's father Josh Crane.

"Me, as being Kyleigh's mother, I would think that I would want something, I would have so much hurt, that I would want them, you know, but I was raised different than that. I grew up in a religious home and I don't believe two wrongs make a right," Wilson said Sunday.

Curry says it could take his office up to a month to decide whether or not to pursue a death penalty case.