On Monday, the Village of Walton Police Department arrested 27-year-old Walton resident Jennifer L. Morris, in connection with a series of graphic and disturbing death threats made on Facebook to Walton children last week.
Although police say more charges are pending, Morris faces only misdemeanor charges: Two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Some of the threatening messages and photos that she is accused of posting are still online at Facebook.
The Walton police issued a brief news release about the arrest:
On January 5th 2013 the Village of Walton Police Department received a complaint of unauthorized access into a Facebook account involving threats to various individuals, including children. Over the past two days several more threats were received by other individuals in and around the Village and Town of Walton. An extensive investigation was conducted by the Walton Police Department and the Delaware County Sheriff's Office which has led to the arrest of Jennifer L. Morris age 27 of Walton.
On January 7th, 2013 the Walton Police Department, assisted by the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, arrested Jennifer L. Morris of Walton on two counts of endangering the welfare of a child a class (A) misdemeanor. Morris was arraigned before Judge Richard Gumo of the Village of Walton Court. Morris was committed to the Delaware County Correctional Facility on $10,000 bail pending further court action. The investigation continues and additional charges are pending.
The news release raised as many questions as it answered.
At least two of the Facebook accounts that were used to post death threats, pictures of dead children and other disturbing content -- "Cody Haha F" and "Cody Farwell" -- were still online as of Monday night, after Morris's arrest. In one post, made on Saturday, Morris herself was named as a target in a threat:
In an earlier story about the threats, written before Morris's arrest, the Watershed Post published the screenshot above with Morris's name redacted.
Facebook's policy does not allow "pornography, hate speech, threats, graphic violence, bullying, and spam" on the site. Facebook will also suspend accounts that are suspected of being fake or "impostor" users. People who notice threats or bullying on the site can contact Facebook and ask for the content to be taken down, even if they do not have an account on the site.
Reached by phone shortly after Morris's arrest, Walton Central School District superintendent George Mack said that in light of the arrest, the school would be returning to normal operation.
"We have been informed by the Walton Police Department that an arrest has been made in relation to the online threats. Therefore, we will be returning to normal operations and procedures tomorrow," Mack said. "We will continue to be vigilant with regard to the safety of our students and staff. Also, in light of the recent event, we will be evaluating some of our district protocols."
Attendance at Walton schools on Monday was about 48 percent, Mack said, and some students who did show up to class were distressed about the situation.
Both schools were under increased security protocols, with no visitors allowed in the building during the school day, and officers from both the Walton Police Department and Delaware County Sheriff's Office were on the premises.
"There was a significant police presence at both schools today, most apparently in the morning and at the end of the day," Mack said. "We're very thankful to all the police personnel and other individuals who helped solve the crime, especially the Walton Police Department, the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, and the New York State Police."