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Youth accused of sending threatening e-mails

A Fountain Valley High teen allegedly vowed to 'crush the teachers' spines' if they failed students.

June 13, 2008|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

A Fountain Valley High School student has been charged with threatening teachers with bodily harm if they issued failing grades, police and school officials said Thursday. The alleged threats -- sent by e-mail to at least three teachers -- were frightening at first glance but were deemed "ludicrous" as the investigation progressed, said Fountain Valley Police Det. Mike Parsons.

Nevertheless, the teachers were relieved to know that a suspect had been identified, he said.

The 16-year-old boy has been accused of making criminal threats and sending annoying messages, Parsons said. He has not been identified because he is a juvenile. Police and school officials also declined to identify the teachers.

Parsons said the teenager, a junior, threatened to crush the teachers' spines if they failed any student.

The boy was in the classrooms of two of the teachers, but he was not failing. He also told police that he actually liked the teachers he allegedly threatened, Parsons said.

"They said he was the last kid they expected to make a threat like this," Parsons said.

The investigation began early last month when two teachers told Principal Chris Henzfeld about the e-mails and police were summoned. Henzfeld declined to discuss the threats but said he considers the matter "pretty much over and done with."

The investigation revealed that the boy had sent threatening e-mails to one and possibly two other teachers as long ago as March, Parsons said. But, he said, the teacher did not take them seriously and deleted them. The threatening messages were sent to the teachers' e-mail at school.

On Thursday, the last day of school, Henzfeld said he instructed the faculty to report "any odd phone calls or e-mails" in the future.

Parsons said investigators traced the e-mails back to a computer at the boy's home. He took responsibility right away, explaining that the threats were meant as a joke.

"He said stuff like this was always being sent across the Internet, that it was a big joke," Parsons said.

The teen was already in trouble with his parents before police came to talk to him. Parsons said the boy had posed as a representative of a video game company and offered a job to a person he met online.

"The company sent him a warning letter telling him to knock it off. He had been admonished by his parents. When I went to talk to him he thought it was going to be about" that, Parsons said.

The case has been sent to the Orange County district attorney for review. The office will decide whether to prosecute. The boy is in his parents' custody, Parsons said.

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hgreza@latimes.com

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