2 NJ girls charged in creepy clown hoaxes — parents may have to pay
TOMS RIVER — Two Ocean County girls have been charged in two separate clown-related threat cases.
They are the latest teens in New Jersey to face charges related to the creepy-clown panic spreading across the state and country. The hysteria reached new heights this week with police departments in Roselle Park and South River advising people to not dress up as clowns, even for Halloween.
Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said a 14-year-old South Toms River girl was charged after she admitted lying about being chased by a person dressed as a clown armed with a knife while walking to her school bus stop. Police increased their patrols in the area and a Facebook post went up about the alleged attack, according to Coronato.
The prosecutor's High Tech Crime Unit began investigating the source of the Facebook post, which led to the 14-year-old who admitted making up the attack under questioning by police. The girl was charged with creating a false public alarm, according to Coronato.
Under state law, the girl's parents will be required to make restitution for police services while responding to a false public alarm.
The HTCU also helped crack the case of a separate threat made on Instagram against the Intermediate School East in Toms River on Tuesday. The threat was posted by "Killerclownfromnj," who stated they would be at the school "at 8:37 a.m. sharp on Thursday, October 6th, 2016."
Toms River Police and Toms River school Superintendent David Healy worked to increase security at the school as the HTCU investigated the credibility and origin of the threat. Their investigation led to a 12-year-old Toms River girl who Coronato said attended school in the township. She was charged with a third-degree criminal count as a juvenile and also was punished by the school.
Teens have been arrested in several other online clown threats in Mays Landing and Washington Township. Charges are pending in Deptford.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Hopewell Valley School District posted a message on Wednesday that an “official looking” Instagram account created using the school’s name was a fake.
“This account is not maintained by the district and the district has not had any sightings or issued any warnings related to clowns,” wrote superintendent Thomas A. Smith. “As an extra precaution, I have asked our police to maintain a visible presence around our schools.”
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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