Chat room death threats lead to student's arrest
Date: December 10, 2003
A 12-year-old boy was charged Tuesday with making death threats against teachers and students at his school in an online chat room for fans of horror films, police said.
The boy attends a private school in north Lancaster County, but was not identified by police. Police also did not release the name of the school.
Police in West Earl Township went to the boy's home in Leola, near Lancaster, just after 7 a.m. Tuesday with a search warrant. A steak knife was found in the boy's school backpack, police said.
The boy was being evaluated at a hospital Tuesday night and was to be turned over to juvenile authorities, police said.
A woman in Portland, Ore., saw the online threats and called police Monday night.
"If I went to bed and woke up to find out he had killed people, I'd never forgive myself," said Stacey Weighall.
According to Weighall, the boy wrote under the message headline "I'm going insane," that "I'm going to kill my teacher and a lot of other people in my school."
A number of people communicating on the Web site _ www.horror.com _ told the boy he should get help and asked him to stop posting threatening messages, Weighall said.
The boy allegedly answered, "That will teach them not to take me as a joke. I'll show them all I'm strong. Make them fear me."
Weighall called police in Pittsburgh, who contacted the FBI Cyber Crime Unit there.
Authorities contacted the owner of the Web site just after midnight and he furnished the identity of the boy who was posting the messages.
"He was very cooperative in providing essential information which enabled us to locate and identify this person," said Lt. Kevin Kraus of the Pittsburgh major crimes division. "I also give high praise to this woman in Oregon who took immediate action."
The boy was "very cooperative" when police arrived, said Chief Brian Brandt of the West Earl Township Police Department.
He said the investigation was ongoing and would not comment further.
The boy was charged with making terroristic threats and criminal attempt to possess instruments of crime.
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