BARRE — An arrest warrant has been issued for a custodian at Harwood Union High School accused of making a false threat at the school.
Dick Peck, 51, of Duxbury, did not show up in Washington County criminal court in Barre Thursday for his arraignment on misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and false public alarms. If convicted, Peck faces a maximum sentence of two years and two months in prison. Bail on the warrant is set at $2,500.
Deputy state’s attorney Traci Leibowitz said after the hearing Peck was reportedly in the hospital receiving medical treatment, but she didn’t know what treatment he was receiving.
Detective Trooper James Vooris, of the Vermont State Police, said in his affidavit a threat was reported at the high school Tuesday night. Vooris said Peck reported he found a message saying “I am going to kill you all” written on two mirrors in the men’s bathroom. He said a trooper was stationed at the school Wednesday because of the threat.
The school gave police surveillance footage from a camera pointed directly at the bathroom door, according to court records. Vooris said staff at the school had reviewed the footage and noted everyone who had gone into the bathroom between 1:45 p.m. and 4:36 p.m. when Peck reported he’d found the threat. He said 52 students and staff had used that bathroom over that time, some more than once.
Dozens of interviews with students were conducted by police and no one reported they had seen the message, according to court records. Vooris said six adults had used the bathroom after school was dismissed and none of them had seen the message either.
Vooris said in the surveillance footage Peck is seen going into the bathroom multiple times for a few minutes at a time and at no point is he seen entering or exiting the bathroom with cleaning supplies.
Vooris said he interviewed Peck at his home who reported he had been in the bathroom cleaning for 20 minutes. He said that was a lie because the surveillance footage did not show Peck was in the bathroom for that long and he did not bring cleaning supplies when he did go in the bathroom.
Eventually Peck told police, “Okay, yup, I did it. Why? I don’t know. Because this is what everyone wants to hear.”
He told Vooris when he went into the bathroom he saw the message and noticed it was spelled incorrectly so he “straightened it out.” Vooris said Peck also admitted to adding more words to the message, but was adamant the word “kill” was already written on the mirror. He told police the message initially stated “I go kill you.”
Peck told police, “I admit, I did a stupid thing. I admit if I could take it back I would take it back.”
He continued to tell police he didn’t know why he did it and kept saying the words “I’m” and “kill” were already on the mirror, according to court records. He told police he didn’t think the school would have taken the threat seriously if the message only said “kill,” so his message was meant to tell the school to start taking such things seriously.
Vooris said parents were notified of the threat Tuesday night and 123 students did not show up for school Wednesday when only 28 had been absent Tuesday. He noted 26 students were also absent Wednesday at Crossett Brook Middle School, which is up the road from the high school, when only five were absent Tuesday.