$15,000 Reward Announced In Laurens Co. Threatening Letter Case - WSPA.com

$15,000 Reward Announced In Laurens Co. Threatening Letter Case

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Updated: March 19, 2013

The U.S. Postal Service is offering a $15,000 reward leading to an arrest in the case of threatening letters received earlier this month in Laurens County.

State authorities announced the reward Tuesday morning during a press conference at the Clinton Public Safety Department.

More than half a dozen agencies on the local, state, and federal level are now working the case.

Two pictures of the envelopes received by the Clinton Public Safety Department and Presbyterian College were also shown.  Right now, the scribbled handwriting appears to have come from the same person, according to SLED Spokesman Thom Berry.  US Postal Inspector team leader Steven Stebbins says all four letters sent to Laurens District 55 and 56, Clinton Public Safety, and the college were mailed from the Upstate.  They were handled through the regional processing center in Greenville.

Berry says scientists at SLED's state lab are still analyzing the letters, and looking at fingerprints, DNA, and details of the handwriting.  "We hope this person is getting the message that we're here and we're closing in.  We're not going to stop our efforts."

Posted: March 8, 2013 at 4:53 p.m.

Law enforcement officials tell 7 On Your Side, four letters of a threatening nature have been received in Laurens County.

Officials in Laurens County School Districts 55 and 56, Presbyterian College, and even the Clinton Department of Public Safety received the letters.

Director Robin Morse, says they've called in the State Law Enforcement Division for extra manpower and resources.

As a parent himself, safety is his number one priority.

"I have a child in Laurens High School and I feel very comfortable with him being here today," said Morse of the safety in place at area schools Friday.

A tip line has been set up for anyone with information.  It is 864-200-4565.

Laurens County Sheriff Ricky Chastain says these mailed-in threats are rare.

"Something like this, I can't recollect, actually happening," Chastain explained.

The letters are now at the State Law Enforcement Division lab in Columbia for further testing.

"Anything from fingerprints to dna to a lot of other things," explained Chastain about what investigators are looking for. "They have specialists that can look at that and hopefully come up with some kind of clues or answers as to who may possible be behind this."

Catherine Ryan, Executive Director of Marketing at Presbyterian College, tells 7 On Your Side the school administration was informed Friday morning that they received a letter of a threat to the school.

The letter was turned over to Clinton Dept of Public Safety and the State Law Enforcement Division.

Students are on spring break this week, but faculty, staff and students have been informed of the threat.

The college released this statement Friday from Catherine Ryan, Executive Director of Marketing :

"Presbyterian College confirms that it has received a letter about a potential security risk to campus. The College's leadership was made aware of the letter on Friday morning and is currently working with local police and SLED to ensure our students, faculty, and staff remain out of harm's way. We are not able to release the details of the letter at this time. Presbyterian College is offering full support and cooperation to the Clinton Police Department and to SLED as they continue to investigate this situation.  

All Presbyterian College classes and campus activities are continuing as planned, but faculty, staff, and students have been encouraged to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities."

The Laurens County Sheriff's Office says there will be an increased law enforcement presence throughout the area after threats were made to schools.

The Sheriff's Office Laurens Police Department, Clinton Department of Public Safety, SLED, the S.C.Highway Patrol and other agencies are investigating potential security threats made against Laurens County School Districts 55 and 56.

The LCSO reports Friday there will be more law officers present as schools continue to try and maintain a normal operating schedule.  

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is asked to call their local law enforcement agency or Crime Stoppers at 68-CRIME (864-682-7463).

Posted: March 8, 2013 at 9:45 a.m.

Two Laurens County School Districts received threatening letters in the mail which has prompted increased law enforcement presence at all schools on Friday. The Clinton Dept of Public Safety and the Laurens Sheriff's Office say the State Law Enforcement Division has provided extra resources to allow for officers at every school in Laurens County. Director of the Clinton Dept of Public Safety, Robin Morse said, "The safety of the children in the school district is of the utmost importance.

District 56 received a letter early in the day Thursday which prompted the district to put all schools on a level one lockdown.  This lockdown means all doors to the school are locked. District 55 opened a similar letter late in the day on Thursday.  

Morse says they are checking with other area school districts to see if they have received any letters like this.

The police department can not reveal the specifics of the threat. SLED is assisting in the investigation.

Both school districts released statements to the media.

From Laurens County School District 56 Superintendent David O'Shields, PhD. :

"The District received a threatening letter from an unknown source in today's mail. We immediately reported the matter to law enforcement, and, at this time, both local and state law enforcement agencies are investigating the matter. 

The safety of our students and staff is of the utmost importance to us, and we will continue to work cooperatively with law enforcement until this matter is resolved. In the meantime, additional safety precautions will be taken to protect our students and staff. 

Please understand that there may be some changes in your child's school procedures, such as afternoon dismissal, while this matter is being investigated. For security reasons, we are not at liberty to disclose the specifics of the letter or the action that the District is taking in response to it. 

With the permission of law enforcement, we will advise the public of more details regarding this matter at the appropriate time. We appreciate the community's patience and cooperation as we deal with this matter." 

From Laurens School District 56 Superintendent Dr. Billy R. Strickland: 

"Laurens County School District 55 personnel received a potential security threat Thursday evening after school. Because school safety is of highest priority, all possible security threats are taken seriously and are investigated.   

At this time District 55 is working with Sheriff Ricky Chastain, Interim Chief Chrissie Cofield, the Clinton Department of Public Safety, SLED, and Laurens County School District 56." 

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