WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — As police patrol outside and inside schools in Warwick, Johnston and Cranston, eyes remain on the state crime lab waiting to see what clue, if any, can be obtained from the disturbing letter.
The now infamous, handwritten letter threatened to harm elementary school children and referenced beheading. The investigation revealed that the writer tried to disguise his or her handwriting while penning it, one detective said.
- New: Crime lab analyzes threatening school letter
- Related: Days after threat, police return to schools in three communities
- More: Cranston chief ‘confident schools are safe’ following threat
The state crime lab has already analyzed the letter, and it’s been returned to Johnston police. If a print is found and police have a suspect, the crime lab can compare the prints. If there’s no match, the examiner will then run the unknown print through a database that will compare the prints from criminals in the area.
Johnston Police Chief Richard Tamburini said Thursday they’re looking at several individuals – some of whom are students, others are not. He also said their investigation extends beyond the Rhode Island borders.
“We’ve tracked a number of leads and some of those leads have been dead ends, but we’re continuing to do the job,” added Col. Michael Winquist of the Cranston Police Department.
Meanwhile, area educators described a different landscape in just 24 hours. Johnston Schools Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo said there was a higher attendance rate from Wednesday to Thursday.
“There seems to be more students coming to school, which would indicate people are starting to feel a little more comfortable.”
Cranston parent Jessica Vargas kept her two girls, ages 13 and 8, home on Wednesday. And even though Vargas said she was fearful at first, she decided to send them to school on Thursday.
“There weren’t real answers. You just don’t see it. And then driving through the neighborhood on my way to work, I saw the presence.”
Her wise 13-year-old agreed.
“Before I was kind of scared, but now I know that I know that my mom is making sure I’m okay, that she’s taking me to school and picking me up from school. And I saw the police officers inside and I know that they’re not going to allow anything to happen to us,” Kailana Vargas said.
While more parents ease their kids back into school, police assure they’re doing everything they can right now to make an arrest.
In response to the school threat, several state lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that would enact stiff penalties for anyone who threatens to harm school children. The bill would allow for a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
The FBI, Johnston, Warwick, Cranston and State Police are all working to trace the author of the letter.