HELENA, Mont. — Police charged a Lacey man in the slaying of his 3-year-old son Tuesday, a day after he was arrested while washing blood off his clothes in a southwestern Montana convenience store restroom, authorities said.
Jeremy Brent Cramer, 38, has been charged with deliberate homicide, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Attorney Ben Krakowka said. He made an initial court appearance Tuesday, where he asked to be represented by a public defender. His bond was set at $250,000.
The boy’s mother told police on Monday that her husband had taken their child from their Lacey home and was not returning cellphone calls or messages, the Lacey Police Department said in a statement.
Police requested help from law enforcement in Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana in a search for the boy after the 31-year-old woman reported her husband’s fuel card was used in Moses Lake, Wash.
A convenience store clerk in the Anaconda area called police at about 10:30 p.m. Monday after finding Cramer washing blood off himself in the restroom.
Investigators later found Cramer’s vehicle in a rural area near Mill Creek Road, about 5 miles southeast of Anaconda.
An initial search turned up no sign of the boy Monday night, but his body was found after the search resumed at daybreak.
The cause of death has not yet been determined and the boy’s name has not been released, Krakowka said.
Krakowka declined to provide more details about where the boy was found or how he may have died.
“We don’t want to compromise our investigation until we feel that we’ve found out everything we can,” Krakowka said.
Lacey Police Cmdr. Jim Mack said an Amber Alert wasn’t issued because the mother, whose name was not yet being released, never indicated that the child was in danger.
“My officers had no reason to believe that the father was going to harm the child,” Mack said. “It’s a tragedy for the community.”
He said that Cramer had only lived in Lacey about a year, and had a Montana driver’s license. He said that police had never been called out to the home previously.
Mack said that the couple had been arguing about finances recently.
“He had asked her earlier within the last couple of weeks if they could do a road trip to the East Coast, and she said, ‘No, we don’t have the money,’” Mack said. “It sounded like he wanted to go to the East Coast.”
Agents with the state Division of Criminal Investigation are assisting Anaconda-Deer Lodge Law Enforcement in the investigation.