Skip to comments.More 'Hit Lists' Found At Guilford County Schools (Investigation continues to find writer)
Posted on 12/03/2004 4:29:14 PM PST by Libloather
More 'Hit Lists' Found At Guilford County Schools
2 hours, 22 minutes ago Local - WXII
School officials in Guilford County are investigating a series of "hit list" notes found in county schools Friday.
One note, that threatened 12 students, was found at Northwest High School. It was left on a teacher's desk and was found after lunch.
Two Jamestown Middle students were caught Friday in separate cases of writing threatening letters. Also, a similar note was found on a bathroom wall at Mendenhall Middle in Greensboro.
The incidents occurred three days after a threatening note was found at Northwest Middle School.
Officials with the police and sheriff's departments are investigating.
Investigation continues to find 'hit list' writer
By Jennifer Fernandez, Lex Alexander and Bruce Buchanan Staff Writers
News & Record
Sheriff's deputies continued interviews and forensic work Thursday to try to identify the person who left a "hit list" Tuesday naming 21 students and an assistant principal at Northwest Guilford Middle School.
Meanwhile, students and parents at the school struggled to make sense of the threats.
"They called me to come get them from school because they're scared," said Kathy Woodin, who stopped by the school about noon to pick up her son and daughter. She planned to skip work to stay home with the kids that afternoon; they didn't want to be alone.
Student attendance dropped from the daily average of about 95 percent to 90 percent on Thursday, district officials said.
Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes also disclosed that a second threatening note was found Tuesday at Northwest. But investigators determined within hours that it had been written by the person it purported to threaten and that it had no connection to the first note.
"We don't have a confession" to the first note, Barnes said Thursday. "We do have some ideas and some folks we're talking to."
Whoever left the first note almost certainly will face criminal charges, he said, even if it turns out to be a hoax, because of the seriousness of the threat, the department's expenses incurred in responding to it and the distress it caused students, parents and school employees.
After the 1999 killings at Columbine High School in Colorado, Barnes said, law enforcement cannot ignore such threats.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, principal Bill Stewart urged the community to remember that the school has historically been safe. He characterized the hit list as an isolated incident.
Most parents didn't learn of the list until their children arrived home Wednesday with a letter from the school.
Stewart said that ideally he would have contacted all parents Tuesday, but because the threat was discovered late in the day, there wasn't time to do that properly. And he feared that leaving phone messages at homes simply would create more panic.
"If we had not felt our students were safe," Stewart said, " ... we wouldn't have opened the doors."
Barnes said the writer of the hit list "tried to be misleading" by claiming to be in a particular grade and class, and that the writer claimed he or she would never be found out.
Also, contrary to rumors reported by some parents, there was nothing in the note about "tumblers" or "shooters," terms believed to have referred to students marked for beating or killing, respectively. The note contained far more implication than explicit threat, he added.
"It was not, 'I'm gonna shoot' or 'I'm gonna stab' or 'I'm gonna choke' or 'I'm gonna poison,' " Barnes said. "It was just a reference to the fact that some people should be killed."
Students from all three grade levels at the school were named. Most of the students, but not all, were African American, school officials said.
Barnes would not release a copy of the note or identify those listed in it, saying that information could be used in the investigation or to weed out false confessions. He did say that, contrary to initial reports, it had been written on a computer, not handwritten.
Investigators have not traced the note to any particular computer or printer, he said. The note also was tested for fingerprints and DNA, but Barnes would not say whether that lab work has provided any leads.
Barnes also disclosed the note's last sentence, an indication that the people on the list were going to be attacked at a specific time, the close of school at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday: "Remember Wednesday afternoon after school no later and no earlier."
Because the time and date of the threatened shooting have passed, officials believe the threat also has passed, although Northwest Middle continues to operate with increased security, said Anthony Scales, the district's school safety director.
Barnes said investigators have been interviewing the people on the list since Tuesday and have followed leads those people have provided. About 25 deputies remained on campus Thursday, some investigating and some for added security, he said.
Their presence ratcheted up the concern of some students, while calming others.
"With all the detectives around, it feels really strange," said eighth-grader Jessica Woodin, 14, Kathy Woodin's daughter.
Rumors still abound at the school. Two days after the note was found, students were speculating about who is on the list and what was threatened to happen to them.
"They say that there was going to be a shootout, like, yesterday (Wednesday)," said 13-year-old Jay Cox, a seventh-grader. "And every day of the week someone's supposed to die."
"They're saying the whole reason someone wrote this list is because he was picked on," Jay said.
Yet he said he felt OK being at school Thursday.
"There's been so many stories," Jay said. "I just didn't know which one to believe."
Eighth-grader Emily Tinsley, 13, refused to stay home Thursday.
"That's why they do the hit list, they want people to be scared of them," she said. "I didn't want them to think they have power over us, the power of fear."
Sixth-grader Jessica Dorgu wasn't scared at all, said her mother, Lisa Dorgu. But Dorgu, who is African American, had reservations after hearing that most students on the list were black.
The family moved to the area because of Northwest's reputation for being a good school, both in academics and safety. Jessica has made plenty of friends, both black and white, Dorgu said. There's never been a whisper of racial tension.
"I didn't think they had any problems," Dorgu said. "I'm starting to get concerned."
Shirl Smith, who lives across the street from Northwest Middle, has no reservations about safety at the school where her children and grandchildren were educated.
"It's a great school," she said. "It's just some things get blown out of proportion."
Kathy Zang wants to reserve judgment. She has been trying to keep everything low-key since hearing about the list. She asked few questions of her seventh-grade son after receiving a letter from the school Wednesday explaining the situation.
"Since we don't know a lot of information, I don't want to build this up into something more than what it is," she said.
Despite the tension, there was no question in Jenna Williams' mind whether she'd be in school Thursday morning, said her mother, Sharon Williams.
"I talked to her about it last night," Williams said. Her daughter told her, "It's fine mom. It's no big deal. I wasn't on the list."
Jenna also told her that she and a friend had scoped out a place to hide in case anything happened.
"She has no fear." Williams said. "I wish she'd have a little bit of healthy fear."
North Carolina, near Greensboro.
The Kip Kinkel story took place at Thurston High School, Springfield, Oregon. Nice liberal part of Oregon just outside Eugene.
WTF? Who asked for a blizzard?
Dr. Stewart could use a remedial writing course.