A Maine man who worked as a school bus driver in New Hampshire is accused of threatening and harassing a young boy and his family.
Michael Chick, 39, of Eliot, has been charged in federal court with interstate stalking.
Chick was a bus driver for the Greenland Central School in Greenland, N.H. Federal prosecutors say he first came to the school’s attention in April when the boy’s parents reported that Chick had been giving gifts to him and his sister.
According to charging documents, Chick noticed when the children were absent from school and left letters at their home saying how much he missed them. He also had a conversation with the kids, during which the boy’s sister started to share where the family kept the key to their house.
The parents’ concern grew when Chick asked if he could attend the boy’s Little League game. The school contacted Chick’s bus company and requested that he be moved to another bus route, and Greenland Police spoke with him about his interactions with the boy, according to court documents.
Chick told the officers he wanted to bring his nephew to the game to get him interested in baseball. Police ordered him to have no more contact with the boy or his family.
In early July, the family told police about two cell phones found in a Pokémon lunch box in the boy’s room. According to the federal affidavit, the boy told his parents Chick gave him the phones, but they had only used them once to talk about Pokémon.
The family told police they were afraid Chick would come to their home and kidnap their son.
“As law enforcement officers, it is paramount that we protect our most vulnerable, and in this case, the vulnerable is a child,” Jane Young, U.S. Attorney in New Hampshire, said.
Surveillance video from Chick’s bus showed multiple conversations between him and the boy. Investigators say during one exchange, Chick told the boy:
“I’m not mad at you. I understand why you didn’t lie to your mom. We’re still in this situation, right? Have you been worried about it? Remember our deal? The reason they haven’t gone to that (inaudible) is I’ve been paying $1,000 a week (inaudible) hold them off while I try to figure out what I gotta do.”
Chick instructed the boy on how to use the phone and told him to lie if someone found it, according to charging documents.
Chick referenced threats to the boy from an alleged third party and showed him a note that read, “YOU HAD TOO MANY CHANCES THIS IS NOT WORKING WE ARE DONE [expletive] AROUND MAKE THIS HAPPEN NOW OR THE KID DISAPPEARS.”
The boy told police about an organization that Chick referred to as “The Team,” which had anywhere between eight and 800 members and was allegedly behind the threats. Chick said the boy had to meet their demands, or they would “go to Plan B,” which meant the boy would be “kidnapped and tortured,” according to the affidavit.
Investigators say the boy has not disclosed the full scope of Chick’s demands, but he did tell them Chick asked him to make a video and that “The Team” liked “clothing and underwear.”
According to charging documents, investigators searched Chick’s home last week and seized, among other items, two cell phones, handwritten notes and instructions to the boy, computer-generated threats and a bag of children’s underwear.
Chick spoke to investigators and admitted to threatening the boy and placing trackers on his parents’ cars, according to the affidavit. Investigators say they found the trackers where Chick said he placed them.
Chick also told investigators he visited the boy’s home 6-10 times at night “just to walk around the house,” according to court documents.
The bus company, First Student, said Chick is no longer employed as a driver.
“At First Student, we take these charges very seriously,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement. “Behavior such as this is completely unacceptable and at odds with what we stand for as a company. First Student no longer employs the driver. We are cooperating with the authorities and given that this is an active investigation, we are unable to comment further.”
Investigators are working to find out if there are other victims and believe Chick may be connected to a report of a man taking pictures of children at Water Country in July.
They have set up a hotline for anyone with additional information about Chick or any other potential incidents: 603 722-1751.
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