A Warren County High School custodian could go to jail for six years after she was charged Thursday with writing a bomb threat on a bathroom wall, forcing the evacuation of the school campus.
Meanwhile, a nearly simultaneous copycat bomb threat at Warren County Middle School on Thursday has also been solved, declared the work of a mischievous WCMS eighth-grader.
The custodian, Marlene Madewell, was being booked at press time Thursday night and was to be charged with felony filing a false report. She could face one to six years if convicted.
She reportedly confessed to the crime during questioning Thursday and is believed to be a copycatter. Investigators do not believe she is responsible for scrawling the original threat Wednesday, prompting students to be evacuated to McMinnville Civic Center.
According to investigators, Madewell was singled out as a suspect when she was directed to check a bathroom Thursday morning as a result of the bomb threat that happened the day before. Madewell reportedly returned and reported finding writing on a bathroom stall. The writing contained a threat to blow up the school and this time mentioned executive principal Jimmy Walker, saying something to the effect, “This is for you.”
Lawmen became suspicious even as the 1,800 high school students were being evacuated. That is when they began looking at surveillance videos that cover the hallways outside the bathrooms. They also looked at the handwriting on the message and compared it to the custodian’s handwriting. Given the similarities, they called her in for questioning.
Madewell soon confessed to the Thursday incident. The original Wednesday incident remains unsolved with lawmen admitting the threat to blow up the school could have been on the wall for days, weeks or months.
As for the reason for her copycat act, investigators have discovered she suffers from manic-depressive disorder. Other than that, they are unsure what could have triggered her false report and vandalism.
She is being held under $30,000 bond awaiting arraignment. According to Director of Schools Bobby Cox, the act will be treated as zero tolerance. It is expected she will be terminated from her employment. She has been with the school system since 2003.
Also facing zero tolerance will be a middle school eighth-grader who has reportedly confessed to writing a threat to blow up the middle school. The message was found scrawled on a sign around the track at Nunley Stadium. Investigators did not reveal the name of the student.