Police: One confession obtained in B-UMS voicemail threats case

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday said it had obtained a confession from at least one student who allegedly left threatening voicemail messages on the Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School principal’s phone, spurring the school to shift into precautionary lockdown mode Monday.

Cpl. Rodney Rolenson, who is assisting lead investigating officer Cpl. Rocky Hebb in the case, said Tuesday it’s likely petitions will be filed against two juveniles related to the incident and the sheriff’s department had received a confession from one.

“So far, we’re looking at two,” Rolenson told My Buckhannon Tuesday. “We’ve received a confession from one and we’ve interviewed multiple people in connection with the two individuals who we believe made the actual phone calls.”

After several messages containing various threats were discovered on B-UMS principal Michael Lynch’s voicemail Monday morning, parents were given the option of picking their student or students up from school while the sheriff’s department, the Department of Homeland Security and West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center investigated.

Law enforcement later determined the threat was unsubstantiated, but alerted parents to the situation “out of an abundance of caution” and in an effort to be transparent, Upshur County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said Monday.

Stankus confirmed Monday night law enforcement believed one or more students were responsible for the messages.

Rolenson said he believed the sheriff’s department would wrap up the interview process Tuesday and said the case will then be handed over to Stephanie Milliron, the juvenile prosecutor for Upshur County.

“What happens now, once the case is turned over to her is that rather than a warrant, a petition is filed against the minor and then a court hearing is set through Circuit Court,” he said. “That’s where it would be determined what sanction would be given.”

Rolenson said the level of sanction depends on a number of factors, including the minor’s age and background. Sanctions for minors can vary from confinement at a juvenile detention center to being place on juvenile probation. Rolenson said juveniles 13 and under can’t be questioned by law enforcement without the presence of an attorney.

Stankus said B-UMS was back to its regular schedule Tuesday.

“Today was a good day and we are happy to be returned to our normal schedule,” she said.

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