Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman issued his final opinion Wednesday that the bomb threat communicated to Culver Community Schools on January 9, 2024, has for all intents and purposes been solved, but for a variety of reasons cannot be prosecuted.  Chipman praised the untiring investigative efforts of Culver Deputy Chief of Police Chad Becker and Marshall County Police Department Lt. Les McFarland, assisted by 1st Sgt. Nick Laffoon, identified the probable culprit who made the bomb threat call from the state of Maryland.  Also providing essential assistance was Indiana State Police Detective Andy Barker.  Chipman also lauded the efforts of the many Culver school officials in their rapid response to safely evacuate the schools.  And we thank the talented work of bomb-sniffing dogs and their handlers supplied by the Indiana State Police and the University of Notre Dame.

It is a peculiar set of facts that renders officials unable to prosecute.  A call was made to the office of a large manufacturer in Elkhart at 10:55 a.m. on Tuesday, January 9.  A male voice spoke with a female secretary to the business and stated: “Listen to me carefully, there is going to be a bomb at your school.”  Perplexed, the female employee asked: “Which school?”, to which the caller responded: “Culver High School.”  The call was then terminated.

Certainly, the caller intended to make the threat to Culver High School.  The facts though establish the threat was not made to the school or any officials associated with the school or local law enforcement, but rather to the office of a manufacturing company in Elkhart County.  As it turns out, the 10-digit telephone number of the manufacturer was just one digit different than one of the official numbers of Culver Middle/High School.

1st Sgt Laffoon was quickly able to identify the telephone number from which the threat call was made.  A search warrant was prepared, reviewed, and executed with the telephone provider which soon provided the identity of the subscriber with a location in Maryland.  Local officers in Maryland contacted that individual who acknowledged the number was one of his but used by his teenage son.  He would not, however, allow his son to be interviewed.  The individual claimed he had earlier in the year chastised his son for giving out the telephone number to numerous youthful strangers when the family was on a vacation. He also claimed his son had that number linked to several social media platforms and gaming sites, suggesting the number could have been used by a different guilty party.

Further investigation revealed the son was in school at the time of the call suggesting an alibi.  Chipman noted the call was so brief the evidence of a valid alibi was rather weak.  Local law enforcement in Maryland closed their investigation.

The interest of the FBI peaked in the case because there had been numerous false bomb threats directed at schools throughout the country. The Special Agent who monitored this case was apprised of the results of the investigation and expressed no further interest.

Chipman noted his acceptance of the situation that the probable young culprit was not going to face formal proceedings.  An in-depth interview of the individual was not feasible; Marshall County was not going to issue an interstate detention order for a juvenile and seek extradition under these circumstances.  After all, the call that was made was to a different county and non-school or any other official related to the Culver Schools.  All we can hope for is that the father made the son aware of his transgression.

However, Chipman noted it was important to let the community know this was indeed a case that was essentially solved but not prosecutable.  And finally, Chipman wanted to again express his deep appreciation for the intensive efforts of all involved in reacting and protecting the safety of the students at Culver Community Schools.