Chief Richard D. Howe
20 Westford Road
Tyngsborough, MA 01879
For Immediate Release
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Tyngsborough Police Charge Juvenile with Creating Elaborate Hoax Alleging Racism at Academy of Notre Dame
Social Media Posts and Letter Found in School Bathroom were Fabricated
TYNGSBOROUGH — Chief Richard D. Howe announces that the Tyngsborough Police Department will be charging a juvenile female, alleging that she created an elaborate hoax that included racial remarks and racist threats over social media, culminating in a note left in a bathroom that resulted in her school, the Academy of Notre Dame, closing for a day.
The JUVENILE FEMALE, AGE 15, OF LOWELL will be charged with Disturbing a School Assembly and Criminal Harassment. There may be additional charges forthcoming.
Over the past several months, beginning in February, Tyngsborough Police received reports of racist messages sent over Facebook, Instagram, and the online educational tool Quizlet targeting minority students at the parochial school in town. Some of the remarks included the initials of another female student, making it look like that student was responsible for the incidents.
On May 16, police responded to Notre Dame for a report that a threatening letter was found in a bathroom alluding to an unspecified threat that would take place at the school on the following day. After consultation with the police department, administrators cancelled school for the day to ensure appropriate school safety protocols were in place.
Tyngsborough Police detectives conducted an investigation and were able to trace much of the racist social media content to an internet protocol address originating at the suspect’s home.
When interviewed, the suspect confessed to creating the material and to putting the other student’s initials on the material, including the threatening note, in an apparent attempt to frame the other student.
The suspect was charged with Disturbing a School Assembly for the letter left in the bathroom that resulted in the school closing and Criminal Harassment. As a result of this investigation Notre Dame has expelled the student.
“I would like to thank Notre Dame President Maureen Appel and High School principal Helen Kay for their invaluable assistance in this investigation,” Chief Howe said. “I also commend the work of Sgt. Steve Manning and Detective Sergeant Cynthia Shay who brought a resolution to this complicated case.”