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Juvenile threat suspect to remain in custody until Jan. trial

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Dyer County judge has determined the female juvenile arrested for threatening phone messages to two city schools on Tuesday will spend the holidays at the McDowell Center for Children.

The 14-year-old girl appeared in handcuffs before Dyer County Juvenile Judge Jason Hudson on Wednesday afternoon as she was arraigned on two counts of false reporting. The previous day, she had been arrested by Dyersburg Police after it was determined she was the alleged caller of two threatening phone messages to Dyersburg Intermediate School and Dyersburg Primary School. Although school and city officials initially stated the threatening messages the girl allegedly relayed to school personnel were related to a bomb threat, witness testimony on the stand portrayed the threats to be about gun violence.

The grandmother of the suspect appeared by the girl's side in court. After he questioned the grandmother about her finances, Hudson appointed public defender Cristy Cooper to represent them. The girl had stated to Hudson she didn't want to stay at the McDowell Center for Children any longer. The grandmother also wished for her granddaughter to be released from custody and this led to a detention hearing for the girl.

Assistant District Attorney Renee Creasy was requesting the girl remain in custody at the McDowell Center. She then called Dyersburg City Schools employee Sharon Grooms first to the stand and questioned her about Tuesday morning's events. Grooms answered the phone at Dyersburg Intermediate School around 8:30 a.m. when the caller stated they had one hour to get out of the building or they were going to bring a gun and kill everybody. Grooms reported the call to the principal and they called police. Cooper cross examined Grooms and asked her if the voice she heard on the phone was a male or a female. Grooms stated she wasn't sure.

Creasy next called Cindy Franklin who is employed as a secretary at Dyersburg Primary School. She stated she also received a phone call around 8:22 a.m. She said she answered the phone and couldn't understand the person at first, but then the caller stated, "I'm going to bring a gun and shoot everyone there in an hour."

Franklin said she put the phone down and went and got assistant principal Amy Morgan. Franklin and Morgan returned to the phone and the caller stated they wanted money. Franklin asked the caller how much money they wanted and the caller was silent and hung up. She said they received four other calls. She added they contacted Dyersburg Police and the school went on lockdown.

Cooper asked Franklin if she could determine if the voice of the caller was male or female, to which Franklin said she could not tell.

Next, Creasy called Sherry Agee to the stand. Agee is employed at Dyersburg Primary School as a curriculum coordinator. She answered one of the calls around 8:25 a.m. and the caller stated they would come and shoot everyone in an hour and was watching the time. Agee answered a second call and the caller threatened her personally saying she had hung up on them and she was going to be the first one they came to. Agee told Cooper she couldn't tell if the caller was male or female because the voice was "gravelly."

Next, Dyersburg Police School Resource Officer Brett Davis took the stand. Davis stated he was familiar with the suspect who attends the alternative school. Davis said he saw the girl on Tuesday morning before classes started and she was walking in a prohibited area. Davis stated a teacher told her to stop three times and she continued to the student office. School officials spoke to the girl in the office and were going to send her home. Davis said she asked him how does a person "get schools investigated" and she stated she felt she was not being treated properly by the school system. Davis said the girl left around 7:45 a.m. in the same vehicle that had brought her to school.

Creasy next called Dyersburg Police Sgt. Tommy Langford to the stand. He stated he investigated the case and through his investigation they were able to pinpoint two numbers the calls originated from. He added one of the numbers was registered to the girl's grandmother and the other was registered to a person with the same first name of the suspect, but had a different last name. Langford said police went to the grandmother's residence in Dyersburg around 1:30 p.m. and spoke with her. Langford said she told police her granddaughter had the same first name as the person they were looking for, but had a different last name. Langford added she thought her granddaughter was in school and grew concerned when she found out she was not at school. Langford said they eventually made contact with the suspect and she reportedly had the same cell phone in her possession that had the number that called the schools. The phone reportedly still had the phone numbers of the schools where she had called them.

Cooper asked Langford if there were recordings of the calls made to the schools. Langford stated there were no recordings.

Cooper then called the grandmother to take the witness stand. She told Cooper she had custody of her granddaughter since she was 4 years old and she would welcome the chance to be able to take her back home. In a twist of irony, the grandmother stated she was at Dyersburg Primary School with her grandson when the threats came in and she had to be locked down with everyone there as well.

In closing, Creasy stated to Hudson that the girl should remain in custody due to the seriousness in nature of the charges and due to the fact the girl was not in school and did not return home until around 1 p.m.

Cooper stated to Hudson the state had not proved probable cause to keep the girl in custody at the McDowell Center and asked for house arrest until a trial could be set on the charges.

Hudson ruled in favor of the state saying Creasy had proven probable cause. He said the court found the likelihood of injury or death coupled with the grandmother not being able to provide adequate supervision left him with the decision for continued detention at the McDowell Center. Hudson set a trial date for the juvenile to take place on Jan. 8, 2013, until which time she will remain at the McDowell Center.

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So where is the person the dropped this girl off and picked her up from school??

-- Posted by MommyOfTwo0530 on Thu, Dec 20, 2012, at 9:32 AM

I wonder if she thinks she is being treated properly NOW ??? Where is her Mother and Father? Sound like she just needs some good old S.T.A. "Stripe That A$$"... Today's World talks about how we should not spank these kids, how we should reason with them, we shouldn't crowd or invade their space... "TO HELL WITH THAT"!!!

"Kick their Donkey" it didn't hurt my generation, it made us respect others, taught us to know right from wrong, AND taught us what the consequences were for our actions... Wake up people...

-- Posted by Elvin Patch on Thu, Dec 20, 2012, at 10:33 AM

As someone who has a kindergarten child at DPS, I want to once again thank the Dyersburg Police Department, the Dyersburg Fire Department and the EMS services for their rapid response to what could have been a volatile situation. I particularly want to thank Ms Linda DeBerry, Ms Amy Morgan, Mr Chris Dishman and all the teachers and office employees too numerous to mention. These wonderful people showed yet again how much they care and are concerned for each and every student placed in their care at DPS. I was very comfortable leaving my granddaughter to finish her day at school following the threat made, and I wish all parents had shown the same vote of confidence in our school administration and our First Responders. When adults allow their emotions and fears to run away with them, it exacerbates the fears of young children and that's not healthy. Whilst we all want our children to be safe and sound 24 hours daily, seven days a week, there are no guarantees in life that they can be kept that way. All one has to do is watch the news on a daily basis and see the things that can happen to a youngster in one's own home or vehicle. It's important for us to teach our children proper safety habits and to teach them to listen to their teachers, members of the Police Departments, Firefighters, EMS workers... all good people who have the welfare of others first and foremost in their minds. I do believe that young people having cell phones or daily access to cell phones is obviously not a good thing and I believe that should be something in the mind of parents who allow and/or provide such things to juveniles. I also believe that we as a community need to come together and work with the DPD and the school district, and make a collective effort to insure the safety and well being of our children. I truly believe that "It Takes Village To Raise A Child."

-- Posted by DannyeSue on Thu, Dec 20, 2012, at 11:54 AM

Not a single mention of the mother or father, LOL. Grandmother "raising" a 14 year old child who is already in the alternative school. It is just a matter of time before we know who this future "doctor" is, so just release her name already.

-- Posted by liveshere on Thu, Dec 20, 2012, at 12:14 PM

If they mention the mother or father, then the identity of the juvenile will be known. That's why the paper won't release any adult names.

I know that if I did this growing up I'd been sleeping like a horse for the next two weeks! I have to wonder where the parents are and what the heck they've been doing. A good whipping with a switch like I used to get would do kids some good these days!

-- Posted by Dude2010 on Thu, Dec 20, 2012, at 1:15 PM

Who cares if she don't want to go back to juvie. She needs to be sent to prison. She also need a good whipping with a belt. That's whats wrong with kids today. They think if they are under 18 they can get away with anything. Skip all this time out crap these kids need tyo get good ole whippings like we did when we were kids and then they wouldn't be acting like fools!!

-- Posted by whatsupwithpeopletoday on Thu, Dec 20, 2012, at 9:51 PM

Sounds like a future president to me!

-- Posted by Danillo57 on Fri, Dec 21, 2012, at 1:56 AM

Rather than posting rude statements, using foul language and insinuating that the juvenile's grandmother is somehwat at fault, let's not forget that the grandmother was at DPS when this incident occurred and the grandmother was on "lock down" along with the students and faculty whilst DPS was secured and searched by the proper authorities. The grandmother may have just recently become the caregiver for the juvenile and/or the juvenile's siblings... disciplinary problems could have been an issue from the beginning. None of us knows the full scope of this matter. What we do know and should remember is that the children at DPS were secured in a safe manner, they were kept calm and constantly reassured by the faculty and those First Responders who checked the facility thoroughly. We should ALL be thanking the faculty at DPS for their rapid thinking and calm manner in takiing care of our children, and we should be thanking the First Responders for doing their jobs so rapidly and so well. IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD and the parents and grandparents of DPS students need to come together, work together with the faculty at DPS and with all First Responders, let's work as a Village and help keep our children and grandchildren in a safe and secure environment.

-- Posted by DannyeSue on Fri, Dec 21, 2012, at 6:09 AM

DannySue: I agree that DPS,DPD,etc. all did a wonderful job pretecting our kids... BUT, I am a tax payer, and I abide by the law... and I sure didn't and don't send my kids to school to be VICTIMS of violence... NONE of do... IF you don't protect yourself and your children, someday you may wind up being in the paper... I don't wish that on anyone... I can't understand what has changed since we were in school... Guns, bombthreats,stabbings... What are the parents doing that is so different now a days... SPARING THE ROD... This is a lot of the problem... SO, if I have offended anyone??? GOOD!!! Get out of your hidding place and stand up, Put you foot in some one's back side and get their attention, Let them know you aren't going to be a statistic... How do you get Drug Dealers out of your town, STAND UP...

-- Posted by Elvin Patch on Fri, Dec 21, 2012, at 6:59 AM

Mr Patch, you haven't offended me at all and I do agree that there's some serious issues with the fact that many parents fail to or refuse to properly discipline their children. By the same token, there are other parents who have become abusers in the manner they choose to discipline. There has to be a fine line for everyone and I believe many of us have found that fine line. Of course I don't send my grandchild to school for her to become a victim of violence, and I don't put her in a car for that to happen either, but I run the risk of some idiot drunk driver running into us, or some idiot cell phone junkie more intent on talking to friends verbally or texteing with friends whilst driving... those are just a couple of examples. Life is never without some degree of risk each and every day. I too am a taxpayer and I abide by the law as well, but I know that everyone doesn't do that, and you know it as well Sir. This is precisely why I believe that IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD. I believe we all need to work together as a United Community, and we need to work with our school officials, our Law Enforcement Personnel, our first responders, our churches and of course with out children. That's preciselt what I would call STANDING UP as you suggested, and I believe as a community, we need to come together for the good not only of our children, but for each and every citisen in our lovely area. I'm willing to take that first step... are you Sir? I thank you very much for your response and I respect every word you've written.

-- Posted by DannyeSue on Fri, Dec 21, 2012, at 3:58 PM

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