Police: 11-year-old made hit list

Officials say girl named student, teachers; lacked plan, ability to carry out threats

An 11-year-old Franklin girl made a hit list at school of about 12 teachers and classmates that she wanted to kill, prompting an investigation after a fellow student told a teacher.

The Custer Baker Intermediate School student has been suspended and was taken to a hospital for an overnight mental health evaluation after the list was discovered Wednesday afternoon, Franklin Police Chief Tim O’Sullivan said. Police found the kill list, he said.

The police department plans to ask the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office to consider a charge of intimidation against the girl because she had written names of people to harm, O’Sullivan said.

The incident is considered extremely serious. School leaders and the police are again reminding students and their parents that their words are being taken seriously and they can face long-term consequences for statements or actions deemed a threat.

“We’re taking all these threats very seriously,” Franklin schools superintendent David Clendening said. “We have to maintain safety for everyone.”

The girl told police that she didn’t want to kill the classmates and teachers, but wanted to hurt them for what they had done, O’Sullivan said.

The child had listed the names of people who had upset her, such as a student who she said had picked on her brother in one example. She also told police she listed certain female classmates who thought they were better than she, O’Sullivan said. She had made the list over time, he said.

The investigation showed that she had no capability to carry out a plan, and no detailed plan beyond the list to do harm, he said.

The list was discovered Wednesday when the girl told a classmate she had made a kill list, and the classmate nearly immediately told a teacher. On Thursday, the teachers, the parents of the children, and the children named on the hit list were told about the incident, Clendening said.

She has been suspended from school for three days, O’Sullivan said. Typically, school districts pursue expelling students who make threats. Clendening said the school district would pursue the maximum discipline.

The student was released to her mother after her 24-hour hospital stay, but the juvenile court system and the prosecutor’s office had been notified of the incident. O’Sullivan said that pursuing the charge and documenting what had happened was key.

“Then we can automatically start getting her some help,” O’Sullivan said, referring to mental healthcare that the legal system could require.

Another letter was sent home with intermediate school students on Thursday, telling their parents of the incident and asking again that they re-read a message sent home last week imploring them to talk with their children.

The letter sent home last week outlined that children and families should immediately contact the school or police if they witness or hear a threat. Once a threat is reported, refrain from discussing it with others in an effort to avoid panic, rumors and speculation, the letter said. Children need to be reminded of the seriousness of words posted on social media, and that threats can’t be viewed as a joke, the letter said.

The letter also commended the fellow student who immediately reported the threat.

The hit list was discovered in the middle of ISTEP testing for students, which is ongoing. School officials waited for police to conduct an investigation, then started notifying the people named on the list, and considered how and when to best communicate with the children, Clendening said.

Their parents were informed first, and those calls had been completed by the school principal Thursday evening, Clendening said.

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Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mholtkamp@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2774.