News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 21, 2012

Woman arrested after school threat reported

Rumor about South Vermillion spreads quickly

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

CLINTON — A reported threat of violence at South Vermillion High School landed a Clinton woman in jail Thursday morning.

Officials from the South Vermillion School Corporation and Vermillion County Sheriff’s Department hosted a joint media conference that afternoon to announce the arrest of April Lynn York, 36, Clinton, for a class-D felony allegation of false reporting and informing.

According to documents filed Thursday in the Vermillion County Circuit Court, York is accused of concocting a false story about individuals planning an attack on the high school. She is accused of repeating the story to officers after being questioned, telling them she overheard two young males at the Clinton Mini Mart state “Yeah, tomorrow at South Vermillion it’s going to be a big bang,” and “Yeah, the whole place is being shot up because I’m sick of it.”

York is accused of spreading the story late Monday evening, and officials said it hit Facebook within hours and had parents in an uproar.

Sheriff Robert Spence said families and students in the county’s schools should know that all is safe and law enforcement follows up on every potential threat.

“Our primary purpose here is to try and put at ease the community’s fears about school security,” he said.

Det. Mike Phelps, lead investigator, said York had the opportunity to tell officers the truth on three different occasions Monday evening, but kept repeating the lie until finally confessing. Officers worked into Tuesday morning interviewing her and investigating the claims.

“I don’t understand why she told the story she told. It doesn’t make any sense,” he said, adding York has since professed a different account of the night’s events, but he doesn’t believe that either.

Investigators reviewed security tape from the store and neither York nor the young males were even present at the time in question, Phelps said.

According to Phelps, York is single, unemployed, and does not have a prior criminal record. The status of her mental health is unknown at this time, he said.

Superintendent Dave Chapman said school officials were actively involved from the start.

“If we felt at any time that the threat was real, I can assure you, school would not have been opened up on Tuesday,” he said.

The incident comes just days after Friday’s deadly shooting in Connecticut, where an armed gunman shot students and teachers at an elementary school.

Spence emphasized the amount of time and resources invested in following up on a threat found to be bogus. Issuing false threats is both costly and dangerous, he said.

“We take these things seriously and we’re not going to tolerate it,” he said.

According to personnel at the Vermillion County Jail, York remained in custody Thursday evening with bail set at $25,000, 10 percent allowed. A court date had not yet been set by that evening.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.