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Student arrested for e-mail threat

February 22, 2001

Student arrested for e-mail threat



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Jefferson High School student has been charged with assault after the Jefferson County Board of Education president received an e-mail message that contained a threat, police said.

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In the e-mail message, which is included in the court file and was provided by police, Jefferson County Board of Education President Larry Togans was told: "I will put you in so much pain that you will wish you were dead." "Ya know it's pretty bad when people I know, myself included, who are not prejudiced, commented that there was going to be a lynching, get a rope, and find a tree," the e-mail says.

Sara Elizabeth Turner, 18, of Route 4, Harpers Ferry, W.Va., was arraigned on an assault charge Wednesday before Jefferson County Magistrate Mary Paul Rissler and released on personal recognizance bond, Charles Town Police Chief Mike Aldridge said.

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The e-mail was sent to the Jefferson County Board of Education office Feb. 11, according to a criminal complaint filed by Charles Town Police Cpl. Steve Harris. The e-mail was sent to the attention of Togans.

Harris investigated the case by going online and posing as a Jefferson High School student, according to the complaint. While online, Harris conducted a conversation with someone who told him her first name was Sara, the complaint alleged.

"She further advised of being upset over the school board's decision to change the date of graduation, and advised of having sent them an e-mail. I asked her what she had stated in her e-mail, and she replied, 'I went off. I have a bad temper as it is and I just totally lost it,'" according to allegations contained in the complaint.

Harris contacted Turner on the Internet at about 1 a.m. on Feb. 16 and interviewed her later that day, Aldridge said.

Togans was interviewed and said he was concerned about his personal safety, Harris said.

After receiving the e-mail, Togans told family members to be alert for possible threats, he said Thursday night.

Togans said he wants to be careful "because you never know with the other things going on in other school districts. You have to be very careful. So I took this very seriously."

Turner could not be reached for comment.

Superintendent of Schools David W. Markoe said disciplinary action had been taken against Turner, although he could not be specific.

The Board of Education filed a complaint with Charles Town Police after the e-mail was received, Markoe said.

"We were pretty concerned about it," Markoe said.

Some seniors at Jefferson High School are upset over this year's June 9 graduation date, saying it will prevent some of the students from attending graduation ceremonies.

Students thought that graduation should be held on June 3.

Some of the students are entering the military and made arrangements to report for training between June 4 through June 7, students said.

The Board of Education decided to hold graduation on June 9, mainly because that would make it easier to administer final exams, according to Jefferson County Board of Education members.

In the e-mail, Togans was told "you have no right changing my date of graduation. The date will be changed," or "there will be hell to pay. Not only on the school and its system, but on yourself included. Have a nice day."

Charles Town Police investigated the incident because the Board of Education offices are within the city limits.

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