Ethan Crumbley back in court, how a $9,000 towing fee is legal, Detroit Tinder swindler arrested

Call it shady, call it opportunistic, but don’t call it illegal.

The company that seemingly took advantage of stranded drivers after that pileup on I-696 in Farmington Hills - 10G Towing and Recovery -- did nothing criminal, according to Michigan State Police, when they charged those drivers insanely high prices, including one of them a $9,000 bill.

"As an attorney, I can tell you that so many people call my office asking for help after they have been ripped off, and ideally you want to avoid being ripped off," said Steve Lehto.

Although 10G Towing and Recovery claims several police agencies called them to the scene of the accident, state police, which had jurisdiction over it, says it never did. Had state police called the Redford Township company, there would have been limits for how much it could charge.

"It makes me frustrated, because how as a civilian do we feel protected from people like this?" said Kellie Rockwell.

Even so, MSP says drivers like Kellie Rockwell hired 10G to tow their cars - and 10G did not misrepresent itself as being in cahoots with state police.

"The woman’s in a car accident, she sees police officers, she sees tow trucks, the cops say to get your car out of here, and there’s a tow truck right there," said Lehto. "So she assumes the tow truck is with the police or is called by the police - and that’s the problem."

Lehto specializes in consumer protection. He says the state’s high court struck down a law that made it illegal to charge a price grossly in excess of the value of a good or service, like the $9,000 bill that 10G gave Kellie for one towing job.

"But that law is gone now, it’s been gone for more than 20 years," Lehto said. "And as a result of that, a lot of unscrupulous merchants are learning, 'Hey we can do what we want, because there’s so little recourse if we get caught.'"

"I’m not happy with the fact that we don’t have a law to protect us and I’m going to hopefully get people to join me to push that we get that law back," Rockwell said.

As for Kellie, her insurance company negotiated that $9,000 bill down to $2,500 and got Great Lakes Towing to get her car back from the 10G Towing and Recovery lot. Now it’s being repaired at a collision shop.

"Obviously you felt you weren’t worth it or you knew you were overcharging if you are willing to lower it that much, but even still, $2,500 is still a lot and I’m extremely upset my insurance paid them to take my vehicle," Rockwell said.

FOX 2: "You think ultimately you’re going to have to pay this in higher premiums?"

"Oh yeah," she said.

"If you’re in this situation, ask the tow truck driver if they were called there by police," Lehto said. "Or ask police, if police are right there. And if they say yes we are, you’ll have more protection. If they say no, we’re not, then you say how much are you going to charge me for this?

"Any consumer anywhere always has the right to ask. And if somebody tells you that they can’t tell you what it will cost or it’s going to cost you $9,000, you might want to start making more phone calls."

Now, an employee with 10G says it charges the prices they do, because they "provide such exceptional service" and they say they have to consider insurance and rising fuel costs.

The towing company also charged another driver $4,000 for a tow job but later lowered that amount. 

Ethan Crumbley back in court Tuesday

Should Ethan Crumbley remain in adult jail? Or should he be transferred to a juvenile detection center? A judge will consider the request during a court hearing in Oakland County Tuesday, as the accused Oxford shooter pursues an insanity defense. 

The choice could make it harder for the defendant to get moved, as prosecutors could make the argument he poses a threat to the other juveniles housed at the Oakland County Children's Village, were he to move. 

But debate continues over whether juveniles should be held in adult jail. It rarely happens and Michigan is one of the few states where it still does occur. But for minors held at adult facilities, a statute requires a monthly evaluation of the defendant every month. The first one was Jan. 21, while the second one is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The Oakland County Prosecutor's Office said that the insanity defense would start the process for a psychological evaluation. It's not known if that's been conducted yet. Crumbley's parents were in court last week for a preliminary hearing where dramatic testimony was delivered, including allegations that Ethan sent concerning texts to his mother, Jennifer, that she ignored. Those messages were read in the hearing. Read the text exchanges here.

Unpacking the details from child's murder on Detroit's west side

Top law enforcement officials in Detroit and Wayne County plan to make a joint call for gun violence directed toward kids to stop, following the gruesome discovery of a triple murder involving a 5-year-old boy on Detroit's west side this weekend. 

Caleb was found shot execution-style inside a home on Evergreen Road and Fenkell Street early Sunday evening. His 28-year-old mom Lashon Marshall and her 32-year-old boyfriend Aaron Benson were also found dead with gunshot wounds. "He was her only child," said Caleb's grandmother Shalesa Floyd. "He could have grown up to be anything he wanted. He’s our future, he was our future. Why would you take my grandson from me?" 

Police haven't released any details about potential suspects or details behind the grizzly murder. They'll offer an update on the case either late morning or at noon Tuesday from Detroit's Public Safety Headquarters. Former state representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo is a relative of Caleb and comforted Floyd on Monday.

"What mindset can anyone be in that would shoot a baby in the face intentionally?" Gay-Dagnogo said. "You have to be heartless. There is one thing to even a score or have issues with an adult but a child? A child is off-limits."

Detroit's Tinder swindler arrested, charged

Leaders from the Detroit Police Department announced the arrest of a man who they say robbed at least two women after meeting them online and may have robbed two others. Marcus Edwards, 27, was arrested and charged last with at least two different armed robberies that police said happened after he met women on Tinder or other dating apps/sites.

The arrest comes as the Netflix, ‘The Tinder Swindler’, takes off. That documentary features a man who met multiple women online with a fake story of being a wealthy heir before defrauding them of millions. Edwards is not accused of stealing millions from the women but he is accused of gaining their confidence and then robbing them of their belongings.

According to police, their investigation began on Feb. 7 when a female victim who had a gun pulled on her by a man she planned to meet for a date ran from the suspect. Footage from Project Green Light helped police identify a similar crime where the victim said she was sexually assaulted. 

Police didn't elaborate how Marcus Edwards, 27, was identified as the suspect but he's been charged with multiple crimes including armed robbery, second-degree criminal sexual conduct, larceny, assault, and multiple felony weapon charges. There could be two other cases the man is linked to as well. 

Will COVID become endemic in Michigan?

Michigan hospitals are seeing a positive trend in COVID patient numbers after weeks of high infection rates. At times, Michigan was leading the country in COVID cases. "Hopefully we are heading into an endemic," said Dr. Matthew Sims, the director of infectious disease research at Beaumont Health. "We've been in this exact spot before where all the numbers came down, and we get hit with another surge."

Dr. Sims credits the infection decline to herd immunity. "Between infection and vaccination, I think we're getting pretty close to herd immunity. The closer you get to see herd immunity, the more it drops."

Even though COVID numbers are declining, it's uncertain if they'll stay that way. 

"I don't think it'll last because we know that these antibodies wane and if we get another variant, that's further away these antibodies may not protect us as much," Dr. Sims said. "For now we have to keep our guard up because we don't know what's around the corner."

What else we're watching

  1. Oakland County plans to distribute more KN-95 face masks at sites in Novi and Southfield from 3 to 6 p.m. The sites, Oakland County Health Division's South Oakland Health Center and the Suburban Collection Showplace will be drive-thru only. 
  2. Vladimir Konstantinov, the former Detroit Red Wing who became disabled following a car crash decades ago, is part of a group lobbying for reforms to Michigan's no-fault auto insurance reform in 2019.  
  3. Three juveniles were arrested Tuesday morning following a stolen vehicle police chase that was briefly terminated due to speed and the driver turning off the vehicle's lights. The suspects were discovered a short time later and taken into custody. 
  4. The Auburn Hills City Council has voted to opt out of the SMART public transit option that runs through Metro Detroit. A vote was taken during a meeting Monday night.
  5. St. Clair County's longest-serving sheriff died Sunday, following decades in law enforcement. His first successful campaign for sheriff was in 1988. He retired in 2008. 

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

It's going to be warm and wet Tuesday as Southeast Michigan readies for a warm-spell before temperatures take a tumble for the second half of the week. While it won't be enough rain to permit any flood concerns in Detroit, Monroe County should expect to see high water levels for the rest of the week.

Russia-Ukraine crisis: Western nations to impose sanctions against Moscow

Russia set the stage for a quick move to secure its hold on Ukraine's rebel regions on Tuesday with new legislation that would allow the deployment of troops there as the West prepares to announce sanctions against Moscow amid fears of a full-scale invasion.

The new Russia bills, which are likely to be quickly rubber-stamped by the Kremlin-controlled parliament, came a day after President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of the regions in eastern Ukraine. The legislation could be a pretext for a deeper move into Ukrainian territory as the U.S. and its allies have feared.

Quickly after Putin signed the decree late Monday, convoys of armored vehicles were seen rolling across the separatist-controlled territories. It wasn’t immediately clear if they were Russian.

Russian officials haven't yet acknowledged any troop deployments to the rebel east, but Vladislav Brig, a member of the separatist local council in Donetsk, told reporters that the Russian troops already had moved in, taking up positions in the region's north and west.