STEUBENVILLE - Two teenage girls who were allegedly tweeting threats Sunday against a 16-year-old rape victim were expected to make an initial appearance in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court this morning during a detention hearing.
Fred Abdalla Jr., juvenile court chief probation officer, said today's detention hearing in front of Juvenile Court Judge Sam Kerr "will determine if the two girls will remain in the juvenile detention center or will be released to their parents pending charges."
He said if the girls are kept in the juvenile center, authorities will have 72 hours to file charges.
The two unidentified girls were arrested Monday afternoon.
According to Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla, Steubenville Police and agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation along with his department arrested a 16-year old-girl in Steubenville Monday afternoon.
"She had allegedly tweeted Sunday afternoon, "You ripped my family apart. You made my cousin cry. So when I see you b--, it's going to be a homicide."
"The 15-year-old girl tweeted she was going to 'celebrate by beating the s-- out of ---,'" said Abdalla.
"The 15-year-old girl turned herself in to law enforcement officials after posting an apology to the rape victim on the Internet," added Abdalla.
Abdalla said he received a telephone call from a woman in Texas on Sunday minutes after visiting Judge Thomas Lipps sentenced Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville and Trent Mays, 17, of Bloomingdale to confinement at the Ohio Department of Youth Services.
Lipps found Mays and Richmond guilty Sunday of rape in connection with an incident involving an underage girl on Aug. 11-12. Mays also was found delinquent of a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for having a picture of the 16-year-old victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone.
"The Texas woman told me death threats were being made against the rape victim. She told me how to follow her Twitter account so we could see those threats. This was all happening while Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine was holding his press conference at the Justice Center and Judge Lipps was still in the building," cited Abdalla.
"I immediately contacted the attorney general's office, BCI and Steubenville Police. The Steubenville Police and BCI did an excellent job to find out who the two females were," said Abdalla.
"People didn't learn from the trial. Hopefully this will be another lesson learned. You cannot make threats or these type of comments on the Internet," Abdalla stated.
Police Chief Bill McCafferty said he and juvenile Detective Erik Dervis still are pursuing information about a male juvenile who allegedly made comments about the rape victim.
"We take these threats very seriously," McCafferty said, adding the investigation is continuing.
Meanwhile, McCafferty said Nathaniel Richmond, the father of Ma'Lik Richmond, filed a report with the police department Monday citing "threatening messages made against himself and his family on Facebook."
DeWine also issued a warning late Monday to anyone making threats against the rape victim.
"Let me be clear. Threatening a teenage rape victim will not be tolerated. If anyone makes a threat verbally or via the Internet, we will take it seriously, we will find you and we will arrest you," said DeWine.
DeWine said the 16-year-old female will face one misdemeanor count of aggravated menacing for threatening the life of the victim on Twitter. The 15-year-old female will face one misdemeanor count of menacing for threatening bodily harm to the victim on Facebook.
Neither has been been formally charged.
BCI also is investigating threats made against Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin and her family.
"I will not and should not comment on the nature of the threats because they're being investigated," Hanlin noted Sunday.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)