When A Threat Is Made

There are certain calls a parent never wants to get.

A few days ago, I got a call from one of my college-aged kids.  It left me feeling physically ill and sent my world into a tailspin.

In an effort to be a little bit vague (in the name of safety), I'm going to refer to this child simply as "Kiddo" for today's post.  I'm also going to refer to Kiddo as a "he" for the sake of this writing – but that doesn't necessarily mean Kiddo is a he.

Kiddo called with a shaking voice and fear in his every word.  Kiddo is receiving threats (some of them death threats) from another student at his campus.  Let's call the kid who is doing the threatening Scary.  

Scary was almost kicked out of school last semester.  Scary was caught cheating and when he was caught he "lost it."  He made threats against a teacher and administrator, and sent them emails mentioning Hitler, destruction, and other ramblings which made no sense. 

Scary is mentally unstable, violent, and also very, very angry.  

The school required Scary to see a school psychiatrist a few times, but then ended up allowing Scary to stay on campus as a student.  I've been told Scary is a master at smooth talking his way out of any situation.

Scary has developed a crush on a girl I'll call Pretty.  Pretty has a boyfriend and has no interest in Scary.  In fact, Pretty finds Scary … downright scary.  Pretty is also a good friend of Kiddo's.  

A few days ago Scary began sending threatening, text messages and emails to both Pretty and Kiddo.  Scary lives very close to Kiddo so Scary is hard to avoid.  Since they live close to each other, Kiddo is taking the brunt of Scary's anger and violent threats.  Pretty lives further away and is in semi-hiding.

The campus police were notified of Scary's threats and went to talk to him.  Scary stayed calm, turned on the charm, and convinced the officers there was some type of misunderstanding.  He was warned to stay away from Pretty and Kiddo.  The police left and Scary promptly threatened Kiddo with violence again.  

The new threat, after the police left, was promptly reported to campus police and they returned.  The police informed Scary they have a "three strike" policy.  They also told him threats are a serious matter, and that he would be "taken in" if there was another incident directed at Pretty or Kiddo.  

Since then, Scary has sent text and email messages to students in Kiddo's group of friends.  The messages are threatening, rambling, and a bit incoherent.  As of this writing, he hasn't sent a message to Kiddo during the last 12 hours.  He has, however, referred to plans for violence against Kiddo when rambling to other people.

Kiddo is afraid of Scary and he's not the only one.  Pretty and a lot of their friends are also afraid of him.

It was a three day, holiday, weekend here when most of this was going on.  That means the school offices were closed and we were unable to get in touch with campus administrators.

I have instructed Kiddo:

•  Not to be alone for a minute until this is resolved.

•  To keep doors/windows locked at all times.

•  To forward all threatening emails and text messages to the dean of the university.

•  To do everything possible to avoid running into Scary on campus.

•  To try and make arrangements to stay with a friend for a few days.

Briefcase and/or I will be calling the dean to discuss the matter this morning.  I'm afraid of what Scary will do in anger if he gets expelled.  I'm afraid of what Scary will do if he's allowed to remain on campus.  I've seen the text messages and emails from Scary and they make no sense.  It's clear Scary has a serious mental health issue.

I'd feel so much better if this was just about an argument between rational thinking students, but it's not.  I'd feel so much better if this wasn't taking place 3,000 miles away from me, but it is.

The most frustrating thing is waiting for the wheels to turn so this matter can be resolved.  Expulsion, suspension, restraining orders – whatever, all take time.  Also, Scary has already ignored police warnings to stay away from Kiddo.  I have no faith that he'll take a restraining order, or action by campus administrators, seriously.   

I'm trying to stay calm and not to overreact, but it's almost impossible.

Someone is making violent threats against my child.

An angry, mentally unstable, person is targeting my kid.

© Twenty Four At Heart 

48 Responses to “When A Threat Is Made”

  1. Michelle

    That is not good. Praying you get a good response from the school officials and others regarding the threats made. It is so hard to be away and unable to comfort physically, but praying that kiddo knows that he is not alone.

  2. Deidre

    This is really terrifying. I hope that when the offices open things start to move forward.

  3. karen

    What a nightmare – I’m hoping you get immediate action from the school administration this morning. Please let us know how you make out. Our schools are closed here this morning due to impending storm.

  4. joanne

    a restraining order would take it out of campus police’s hands, and of to real jailable offense. A restraining order would forbid any contact and is immediately enforceable, at least in Florida it is. get kiddo a stun gun they are readily available online, for security outside the school

  5. Di

    I’ll assume that Scary is over the age of 21. IF Scary is threatening someone with bodily harm then Scary can go to jail. I wonder what Scary’s parents think of the situation.

  6. Lori

    How horrible! I am praying right now for your child’s safety and you and your husbands peace of mind. I am so glad you all are taking this seriously. Since I have children far away I completely understand your worry. ((((24))))

  7. Jan

    I’m glad Kiddo’s gone to stay with a friend, and everyone who has received a message from Scary needs to document it and take it straight to the Dean – they need to corral this kid and NOW. And maybe getting Kiddo a taser isn’t such a bad idea.
    Keep us posted on what happens.

  8. laura m

    Ohmy goodness I am so so sorry to hear this. As a bullied child in school (even though this is worse) I sort of know how Kiddo feels. Thats a damn scary situation to be put in. i am glad Kiddo was smart enough to keep all th evidence and I hope the dean does what really needs to be done. And I agree with a taser 🙂 and some mase! Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers!

  9. Erica

    I’m glad you’re close enough to Kiddo for him to call you for advice and I’m praying the problem can be taken care of speedily. So sorry to hear that this is happening.

  10. Jenny in MN now AZ

    Oh no! I can’t adequately describe how sorry I am you are going through this and that kiddo is also. Terrifying comes to mind. My son had a scenario of a kid threaten him via text because he wasn’t calling, texting or on FB to reply to the kid. My son didn’t want to talk to this kid. I was terrified because his messages were escalating and the kid has a not pleasant home life, and has the potential for violence. My husband stepped in and called the mom directly, but I was ready to call the police. I wanted this kid thrown in jail and to get some mental health help. I remember thinking if this kid set foot on my property and looked at me wrong – I was ready to take him. I don’t think I slept for 3 days during that time.
    Scary’s parents MUST get involved ASAP. Police also. Kiddo needs to go into hiding. These are the kinds of situations that need to be taken seriously. Even though it can potentially ruin kiddos schedule and life temporarily – it is better than it being ruined forever. There is no such thing as overreacting when you are dealing with someone who is not mentally stable and making threats. Best of luck – and safety to everyone. Hugs!

  11. WebSavvyMom

    –>I don’t think I need to remind you that it was a mentally unstable individual who committed the shootings at Virginia Tech (my alma mater).
    It’s 9 a.m. EST, I would start calling the Dean now.
    I worked for years with teenage agressively mentally ill boys, they are unpredictable even on medication. I hope Kiddo and Pretty stay safe.

  12. Tami

    Yikes! I hope the admin people move fast this morning. Hugs to you and Kiddo!

  13. Neeroc

    I hope the administrators and police address this with the seriousness it deserves. I’ve gotten chills while reading this.

  14. kristin

    Oh my goodness! I am so sorry you and you family are going thru this. I was threatened in a similar way by a similarly mentally ill individual once, and it was terrifying. One of my biggest regrets in life was not calling the “real” police and pressing real charges. At the time I just wanted the whole thing done so I could move on with my life, but unfortunately I have no doubt that my “scary” went on to target other people. You and your child will be in my thoughts and prayers today.
    Additionally, it is absolutely mind blowing to me that kids who develop mental illnesses that could/will result in violence are not getting the treatment they desperately need, including being removed physically from whatever situation is triggering them. If I or one of my kids was mentally ill and threatening others with violence, I would certainly hope that we would be locked up until we were not a threat to others. This is so sad.

  15. Pam

    I am so sorry. It was painful to read this post. I’m thinking of your family and hoping that the administration and police take this very seriously.

  16. Judi

    I work on a college campus and know the procedures that would be undertaken here, I hope Kiddo’s campus is also prepared and springs into action on your behalf. I think all colleges have undergone training since VA Tech.
    It’s great you advised Kiddo to stay with a friend (preferably one unknown to Scary). If Kiddo lives in off-campus housing, I also hope that the campus police have notified the local law enforcement as well.
    Praying for a peaceful resolution for all of you.

  17. Miss Britt

    Oh my gosh. I’m sorry. I imagine that has to be terrifying.
    I’m so glad to hear that your child reached out to you so that you can help resolve the issue, one way or another.

  18. linda

    I think you & Kiddo are doing all the right things. Keeping all involved in my thoughts.

  19. Kelly

    I’d be scared to death. Hope it gets resolved IMMEDIATELY.

  20. Menopausediaries.wordpress.com

    Yikes! Sounds like Scary is a sociopath, since he talks a good game with the cops. What I always wonder, is how people like this gets everyone’s cell phone numbers and email addresses. Maybe Kiddo needs to come home until things calm down and are resolved. Better safe at home than sorry. Keep us posted!

  21. goodfather

    Do more of what you are doing. Keep talking to administrators until you get results. Do not give up on trying to influence this situation. Scary needs help. Period.

  22. Cynthia

    I have been reading your blog for a while- never posting-, but this strikes such a nerve in me. How frightening to have your child away from home in a threatening situation. If my child was in such a situation, I would contact the local authorities and not necessarily rely on the campus administration/police to handle it on their own. I have heard of too many instances when universities and colleges have not adequately responded to situations that clearly called for swift intervention. I hope that your son/daughter is safe.

  23. Kristen

    This makes me feel ill. I can’t even imagine how scary this is for all of you. I hope the school can get the police involved and get this monster away from kiddo.

  24. Onimonster

    I’ve had a Scary in my life. He was arrested and deported before he could do anything. Anything physical. But he made my life absolute hell and I’m still not quite over it, even years after.
    You’re too far away to be Mama Bear for your child and you need someone right there right now to fight for and protect your child on your behalf. Please consider hiring an attorney there to take care of things, or at least consult one there. An attorney can kick ass and get things done starting yesterday.

  25. Kristan

    #1 rule: Do not engage. I think Kiddo and Pretty and anyone else receiving messages must absolutely NOT RESPOND, but simply, as you have already suggested, forward them on. Responding only encourages the behavior, even if it’s a response like “Please leave me alone, I’m notifying authorities.”
    (More on that here: http://honeyrockdawn.com/2010/10/part-ii/ )
    I wouldn’t limit forwards to the Dean, either. I would send these messages to anyone/everyone in Student Life (Resident Assistants, Housefellows, etc.) as well as any campus judiciary committee and campus police. Speaking as a former RA, I can tell you that we are not always (legally) able to act, but we would take something like this VERY seriously, and keep as close an eye on it as humanly possible. And the more people that are aware of the situation, and watching out for Kiddo and Co., the better.
    Also, have you tried contacting Scary’s parents? I would try to make them aware of the situation as well.
    The rest of your advice, I agree with 100%. Safety in numbers.
    It completely sucks and isn’t fair at all that your Kiddo — or any of these kiddos — has to deal with something like this, but it’s far, far better to be safe (if a bit inconvenienced) than sorry. Keep us posted. I’ll be thinking safe thoughts for everyone.

  26. missmolly

    In light of recent events, this is a really terrifying situation. I like your advice and hope the matter is resolved soon, like yesterday.

  27. Fragrant Liar

    I’m so sorry to hear this, and after Tucson, I imagine it couldn’t get more scary for you as parents. I’d be going crazy myself. I hope the school administrators and the police get this resolved and the person committed for evaluation at the very least. And I’m sending good vibes to Kiddo and his friends for safekeeping.

  28. jenn in tenn

    I think you gave kiddo the best advice you could, considering the distance between you. My fingers are crossed that this is handled safely and in a timely manner.

  29. annette

    The dean should be able to contact Scary’s parents and let them know. Schizophrenia and other mental illnesses can start showing up at this age and Scary’s family should know. Maybe they will intervene or at least convince Scary to see a doctor. I can’t believe the police or school are sitting on this in light of the Other Scary in Arizona. The students may need to go as a group to administration and insist something be done.

  30. Jane

    Please post again and let us know what happens today. Scary needs to be expelled immediately. Whether he gets help or not – that’s up to his parents, but he needs to leave the school. Your advice to Kiddo was good. Have him forward all texts, etc to you and your husband also. You might end up needing them.

  31. Suzy

    I assume when you refer to the police you mean the real police and not the campus police? Ever wonder why they’re only campus police and not the real ones?
    Call the real cops if you haven’t already.

  32. Kristen

    I thought about this post several times throughout the day and I am hoping that you made progress today. Whatever can be done could and should by the school. I agree with other posters….the “real” police should be aware of the situation for sure.
    Working in a high school I have dealt with bullying situations before….not fun at all.
    I will continue to think of you and your family.

  33. Priscilla-She's Cookin'

    How awful! I’m glad Kiddo has confided in you and that you’re taking it to the dean and a report should be filed with the police as others have commented – definitely a serious situation that needs intervention. Thinking of you and your family and hoping for a resolution that can put your mind at ease and keep Kiddo safe.

  34. Cathy B

    Wow – sure hope all is resolved with no further problems for your Kiddo, Pretty and everyone else. Sending all the positive thoughts your way that I can.

  35. Missy

    Keeping you and your family in my thoughts. I hope the local police are helping. This is beyond upsetting.

  36. Stephen

    I’m biting my tongue. But, I think, you should make personal contact with all juristictory empowered law enforcement. Campus P.D., Local police department, County Sheriff, State department of public safety, U.S. attorney. Get a name, make a connection, and pester alot, all of your new friends in LEO. Did I mention that I’m tamping down, the horrible side-effects of testosterone poisoning? 🙂 (p.s. it’s going to be ok. but, it’s ok to be proactive.)

  37. Ann's Rants

    Suzanne–this makes me so angry. That your child should be so threatened and terrified, and that you should feel so helpless.
    Praying for a swift and strong resolution.

  38. Jack

    Just wanted to say that I am thinking about you. I hope that this is taken care of swiftly and without any more chaos/confusion. I am so sorry that you have been put in this situation.

  39. Kristan

    I was thinking about this again last night, and I thought of a few more ideas, which you may already have thought about too, but I wanted to share just in case:
    – If any of the kids live in a dorm, make sure the desk attendants know about the situation and do NOT let Scary into the building.
    – If any of the kids live in an apartment, let the landlord, and any neighbors they feel comfortable with alerting, know so that they will NOT let Scary into the building.
    – If they have any classes together, let the professors know.
    – This is probably a duh for college kids, but carry a fully charged cell phone at all times.
    – Let someone know where they are going (just a quick text to a friend or parent is sufficient) and possibly when they expect to return. (This one is probably the most… annoying for Kiddo & Co., b/c they haven’t done anything wrong so why should they have to give up their privacy/freedom. But in the short-term, I would think it was worth it…)
    And again, I stress that Scary’s parents should be notified if at all possible. The key is to prevent anything bad from happening, and that might be an important step in getting Scary under control. Confronted with the evidence of his texts or emails or voice mails, a parent would have to at least wonder, if not completely believe & worry. I would think, anyway…

  40. Kate D.

    Every state has a mental health law in place. Look for the local mental health crisis center in Kiddos area and contact them about evaluating scary for mental health treatment. I am also wondering why the poice have not charged Scary with Terroristic Threats which is what Scary is doing to Kiddo and Pretty. I think that maybe the regular police in the city/town need to be contacted over the campus police.

  41. Michele P

    @Twentyfour, your tweets are killing me! I don’t know how you’re dealing with this! I have two boys: almost 14 and 11 and I can’t imagine dealing with this stress, from across the country. And I’m horrified by the fact someone said it’s not your problem because he’s 18. What utter BS! Obviously the guy isn’t (and shouldn’t be) a parent!
    Good luck and HANG IN THERE.

  42. Marissa (aka MPdaCNA)

    Been following via Twitter … I’m praying this gets worked out quickly. I do NOT think it’s unreasonable to pull Kiddo from school if the school isn’t going to have this individual removed from the School and help ensure your kiddos safety. The reality is though, once Scary is removed, the only thing keeping this from continuing is deportation (I read a tweet where he’s not from the US) or physical containment of some sort. Can you change kiddos phone number? That would at least stop the texting.

  43. Donna Long

    Oh my dear……I left a comment on your tweet. Please, remove your son from the school, if even temporarily. We all think things bad can’t happen…..that people aren’t that way. But think of the Arizona event in the past couple weeks. I’m sure people noticed the illness of this man but thought oh….he’ll be okay. He won’t ever do anything. But…..he did!! At anytime, mental illness can take a horrible turn. Don’t take a chance on your sons life. I’ll be praying for him and you. I just felt a deep down feeling I needed to say this to you…..an overwhelming feeling.


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