Jan 042009

By Brad Zinn/staff • bzinn@newsleader.com • December 30, 2008

STAUNTON — Virginia State Police uncovered a plot that targeted students and faculty at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind, and two students from the school are charged with conspiracy to commit murder of more than one person.

It was alleged they were going to kill several people,” said Lt. Joe Rader, supervisor of general investigations for the Appomattox division of Virginia State Police.

Rader said police received word Sept. 24 of a plot that involved two deaf male students who previously had disciplinary problems at the school. One of the alleged conspirators is 14, said Rader. He did not have the age of the second teen charged in the plot. State police were at the school within hours of being notified, Rader said. “We took it very seriously.”

The two teens, one from Augusta County and the other from Arlington, were plotting an attack for late October and had targeted a specific dorm at the school, according to Rader.

“They had a plan, a very detailed plan,” he said. “This could have been a tragedy. It could have been all talk too.”

The teens were charged two weeks ago but remain free, Rader said. A hearing in Staunton Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court is scheduled for Jan. 5. Rader said it’s his understanding that there are no plans to try the students as adults. Staunton assistant prosecutor Anne Reed is handling the case for the state.

A charge of conspiracy to commit murder of more than one person is a Class 3 felony. Rader said he believes the two teens could be incarcerated until their 21st birthday if convicted as juveniles.

Rader would not discuss details of the plot or what actions the students were alleged to have planned. “We recovered evidence,” he said.

Rader said Nancy Armstrong, superintendent at the East Beverley Street school, and the staff at VSDB were extremely cooperative during the investigation.

“They didn’t sit on this, which is important. They didn’t stonewall us at all,” Rader said.

Armstrong declined to comment about the pending case, but did note that parents, faculty and students were notified of the alleged plot.

– Thanks to Staunton’s NewsLeader