Suspect denies killing Cumberland girl and her uncle

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A man arrested in connection with the murders of a 7-year-old girl and her 21-year-old uncle told Fox59 he did not shoot the victims.

Michael Bell, 22, spoke with Fox59 in a jailhouse interview Monday morning.  Bell is preliminary charged with two counts of murder.

Bell and Jeremy Priel, 25, were arrested Sunday in connection with the deaths of Kyleigh and Jeremy Crane. Bell turned himself into authorities early Sunday morning and hours later, police arrested Priel.

The two victims were found fatally shot in their home, located in the 600 block of North Woodlark Drive on December 12.

Bell told Fox59 he told a friend, identified as “J”, that he could steal a PlayStation 3 gaming system at the Crane’s home.  At first Bell told Fox59, “I was never in that house. I was never in or by that house.”

Minutes later, Bell admitted to being in the area of Woodlark Drive but said he was not inside the home at the time of the shootings.  Bell said he did not tell Priel to shoot anyone and said he never imagined Jeremy and Kyleigh Crane would be home. He said he did not know Priel was carrying a gun.

“I thought he’d be able to just get in and out,” said Bell. “I ain’t think nothing like that would have happened.”

Bell told Fox59 he and Priel rode an IndyGo bus back to the Amber Woods apartments after the robbery.  At that time, Bell said Priel told him something went wrong in the house.

“When we got on the bus, he said ‘I had to do what I had do’ and I got a sick feeling, but I didn’t know what he meant by that until I watched the news,” said Bell. “I seen the news and I’m like ‘Oh my God.’”

Bell said he did not go to authorities or speak with the Crane family because he was afraid Priel would kill him.

“I know the person who actually did it and I was told not to say anything about it or I was next,” said Bell.

Bell said Priel did not have the PS3 on the bus with him but said Priel was carrying a backpack. Investigators recovered Jeremy Crane’s cell phone on the bus.  Police were then able to obtain surveillance footage from the bus, which led detectives to Priel.

Bell said he feels guilty for suggesting that Priel rob the Crane home.  He said Jeremy and Kyleigh were like his family and he would never forgive himself.

“I won’t be able to forgive myself, because that’s something I didn’t intend to happen,” said Bell. “I didn’t even know it would take that type of turn.”

The Crane family said Bell was known as “Uncle Mike.” The family told Fox59 they do not know Priel but said Bell and Jeremy were close friends.

“You wouldn’t see one without the other,” said Cathy Crane, Jeremy’s mother.

Bell said Jeremy helped him get a job at MCL Restaurant and Bakery.  The two also played football together at Warren Central High School.

“[We] did a lot of things together, wrestled on the same team,” said Bell. “Basically, he was like another little brother to me.”

Jeremy and Kyleigh were laid to rest Sunday in a private burial ceremony.

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