Victim’s brother speaks about sister’s death

Medford, Ore. — NBC5 News is learning more about the victim in an apparent murder-suicide in Medford. Charmaine Crunk’s brother said his sister was in a psychologically abusive relationship with Eric Hilsenberg. They were together for 13 years, but he said last year, she decided to end things and move forward only as roommates.

According to her brother, Gary Crunk, it was an amicable split. Charmaine was seeing someone new and planning to move out, but it just wasn’t soon enough. Now, as her family prepares to lay her to rest, they’re remembering the life she lived.

“These neighbors are saying that make my sister sound like she’s this horrible person when all she was was somebody who had to try and deal with someone, who didn’t want to break him,” Crunk said.

Charmaine Crunk’s brother, Gary, wants to set the record straight.

“It breaks my heart to hear strangers talk about their relationship when they really didn’t even know,” Crunk said.

He said Charmaine was the sweetest person he’s ever known, but she had a rough start. He said he and his sister come from abuse. Over the years they learned to hide it, and hide it well.

“When you talk to my sister, she makes everything sound like it is pretty and everything is perfect and everything is great in the world,” Crunk said.

But Gary said it was far from the truth.

NBC5 News asked if Crunk had one last chance to see his sister, what would he say? Crunk answered, “I wouldn’t say a thing. I would show up and put her in a U-Haul and move her away. We all tried to say what needed to be said.”

For about 13 years, Charmaine was in a relationship with Eric Hilsenberg.

“I think that she honestly thought that she could move on and that she could make his life better as well as make her life better,” Crunk said.

A relationship that would ultimately take her life. On Tuesday, police were called to Charmaine’s home on Covina Avenue when she didn’t show up for work. Police said it appears Eric shot Charmaine, before turning the gun on himself.

A reality, Gary is still trying to come to terms with.

“Immense anger and sadness that we told her to get away from him so many times and he didn’t have friends, he didn’t have family and she always felt guilty about that,” Crunk said.

Gary said his sister always tried to give Eric the benefit of the doubt, and said Eric was dealing with demons inside and drug use.

“She tried to do her best with him and – but he’s a crazy person and crazy people do crazy things,” Crunk said.

And while nothing can bring his sister back, Gary’s hope is that if anything were to come from her death – it’s this.

“For women that are abused, they need to speak out, they need to stand up,” Crunk said.

Charmaine’s brother is holding a memorial for his sister, Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Best Western Miner’s Inn in Yreka. Anyone is welcome to attend and pay their respects.

Medford Police are continuing to investigate this case. If you have any information, you’re asked to give them a call.

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