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Feds say officer made threats

Complaint: Threats included bombs, anthrax

Complaint: Threats included bombs, anthrax

February 10, 2006|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

erinc@herald-mail.com

A former Hagerstown Police Department officer was arrested Thursday after a criminal complaint was filed alleging he made threatening phone calls and sent hate mail dating to 2004.

Jeffrey Scott Shifler, 41, of 13934 Green Mountain Drive in Maugansville, was arrested without incident Thursday afternoon, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Vickie LeDuc.

FBI Special Agent Michelle Crnkovich said agents executed a search warrant at Shifler's home, seeking evidence including a computer on which he is believed to have written threatening letters.

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No charges had been filed Thursday against Shifler, who was scheduled to make an initial appearance today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

A criminal complaint filed Thursday in that court alleges Shifler made 14 anonymous telephone calls and sent at least nine anonymous letters containing threats, insults or false crime reports between March 2004 and last week. The threats targeted 25 people and institutions, including five public officials, schools, public office buildings and low-income housing complexes.

Many of the letters were on photocopied Hagerstown Police Department letterhead, the complaint alleges.

FBI agents began following Shifler, now an officer with the Boonsboro Police Department, on Jan. 30 after linking him to the calls, according to the criminal complaint.

Shifler was dismissed from the police department in November 2003, where he worked as an officer for 16 years. The complaint states that Shifler was dismissed for falsifying payroll records.

He openly criticized the department in 2001 as being unprofessional and without morals, documents state. Within months of his dismissal, members of the Hagerstown Police Department received letters with insulting and abusive language, according to the criminal complaint.

Documents state the threatening letters and phone calls were similar ? including common derogatory language, the recipients and the contents of the threats.

The letters, which were analyzed, contained specific information about relationships, which only a member or former member of the Police Department could know, the document states.

Many of the letters sent to Hagerstown residents were typed on Hagerstown Police Department letterhead.

The FBI was able to identify a telephone number used to make phone calls between Jan. 9 and Feb. 4. On Jan. 9, Shifler allegedly did not block his phone number before making a threatening phone call to North Hagerstown High School, the document states.

The phone used to make the call was referred to as a "track phone," and is based on a "pay-as-you-go" program. According to documents, Shifler allegedly gave a fake name and contact information when purchasing the phone Dec. 8, 2005, from a Radio Shack store near his home.

The first call made on the phone was Dec. 13 at 1:14 p.m. to Shifler's home in Maugansville. The second was to a cellular telephone listed to Boonsboro, documents state. A third call was made Jan. 9 to the Boonsboro Police Department, where Shifler is employed.

Shifler could also be placed in the location where every threatening phone call was made, the document states.

Shifler allegedly called Parson-McBean's home Jan. 31 and left a threatening message on her answering service, the document states. A copy of the message was made, and two police officers who know Shifler were able to identify his voice, according to the complaint.

Sgt. Paul J. Kifer and Lt. Michael King each recognized Shifler's voice, though he allegedly tried to disguise it by using a Southern accent, documents state. Kifer and King each worked with Shifler for 15 years.

Attempts to reach Shifler Thursday night were unsuccessful. Boonsboro Police Chief Jeff Hewett was also could not be reached.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. Kauffman Jr. did not return a phone call to his home for comment Thursday night.

A Hagerstown Police duty officer said the FBI was the agency authorized to release information about Shifler.

The Associated Press contribued to this story.

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