This story originally appeared in our September 2012 issue.
The stranger arrived at the movie set late in the evening. Crew members preparing for a long night’s shoot were told the short and stocky, heavily bearded man had come to watch over one of the film’s stars, a fourteen-year-old boy whose mother was leaving in a few hours for a flight to California. But that didn’t explain why the stranger, introduced as Ed Kramer, was busily assembling a shoulder-mounted camera rig to follow the cast and crew into the woods.
The moon was close to full that night, and as the group hiked along an uphill path to the shooting location, makeup artist Krystal Phillips felt uncomfortable. The man seemed to be filming a lot. Creepy, she thought.
It was mid-September of last year, and Phillips and her crewmates had already spent a week at Camp Katoya, an old Girl Scouts camp on the rural outskirts of Milford, Connecticut, that was serving as a location for The Penny Dreadful Picture Show, a middling-budget anthology horror film. In the segment they were shooting, teen scouts are taken on an overnight “snipe hunt” by older scouts trying to scare them, but the campers must fight for their lives when a real monster attacks.
With delicate features and flaxen hair, the young model and actor whom Kramer accompanied had more than a dozen credits in short films and TV projects to his name before coming to Connecticut. Still, Phillips felt protective of this “very adorable, skinny blond kid.” After filming a scene in which the boy gets mysteriously “slimed,” Phillips took him into a nearby cabin to clean him off. Kramer followed them inside.
“I had [the boy] take his shirt off and Ed wanted to help,” she recalls. “I was not okay with him wiping down the boy’s chest, so I said, ‘I’ve got this. It’ll be quicker if I do it.’”
A few minutes later, when she saw Kramer headed toward the room where she’d sent the boy to change, Phillips nudged production assistant Nick Vallas, who intercepted Kramer before he reached the door. While Kramer looked through the handful of release forms Vallas shoved at him, the boy finished dressing.
As the sun was rising and the crew was wrapping up for the day, Vallas left to drive Kramer and the boy, along with two other young actors and their mothers, to the Super 8, where many of the cast had been staying.
At the motel, Vallas dropped off his passengers and took on a new one: the boy’s mother, who needed a ride to the train station. The previous day, before Kramer had arrived, word had gotten around the set that he was accused of molesting three boys in Georgia years before. Although Kramer hadn’t been convicted, Vallas felt concerned enough to return to the motel after dropping off the boy’s mother.
The boy answered the door of room 101 holding a Styrofoam cup, his hair combed. He was wearing just a towel, Vallas later told police. Kramer was standing toward the back of the room, his camera equipment nearby.
Outside, Vallas called Phillips, who’d been Googling Kramer. At seven that morning, she called her mother, who phoned Georgia authorities. By noon Milford police had Kramer in custody. He was charged with “risk of injury to a minor,” a broad statute under Connecticut law that covers sexual assault, placing a child in physical danger, and a range of other crimes.
Squinting sleepily into the camera for his mug shot, with well-defined bags under his heavy-lidded eyes, Kramer appeared considerably older than his fifty years. His beard was graying and unkempt. His haggard face showed no expression.