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Police say school death list rumors untrue

December 26, 1998|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

BOONSBORO - Rumors of a possible cult, death pact or hit list containing names of students and teachers circulating around Boonsboro Middle School are unfounded, according to Maryland State Police and school officials.

Trooper 1st Class Michael Kretzer said the rumors stem from the suicide of a 13-year-old male student earlier this month.

Kretzer said he was told about the rumors by students and by members of the Board of Education's crisis team, which was helping students deal with the death of their classmate.

"There's no validity to it. You know kids say things they don't mean," he said.

Washington County Schools Superintendent Herman Bartlett said he doesn't know who started the rumors.

"It's horrible to play with rumors," he said.

Kretzer said after investigating the death and speaking with students, faculty and administrators he determined the suicide was isolated.

"It was an unfortunate incident," he said.

Boonsboro Middle School Principal Janice Gearhart said one parent called her with concerns but no students have approached her about the rumors.

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"As a student body, everyone has been affected by the tragedy and as such there is a normal grieving time," she said.

Rumors following a untimely death of a student are not unusual, she said.

Most importantly, she said, the rumors have been pursued by officials and found to be meritless.

Gearhart explained that the holiday season can be trying for children as well as adults.

"I think we underestimate our feelings in general. Life is stressful for all of us," she said.

Gearhart said parents can be assured that Boonsboro Middle School is safe.

"If people feel there is a problem they should call or come and see me. I will be glad to interact with anyone," she said.

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