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Bomb threat results in arrest

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@wabashplaindealer.com

The investigation of a reported bomb threat at the Wabash County Judicial Center led to the arrest of Chad A. Miller, 28, of Wabash, on Thursday afternoon.

The investigation was led by Wabash Police Detective Jason Mooney and Indiana State Police Detective Josh Maller after employees at the Wabash Plain Dealer located a note inside a plastic bag outside their building on Monday, March 11.

The note indicated a possible bomb threat at the Wabash County Judicial Center. Employees contacted the police, who then performed a sweep the Plain Dealer building and the Judicial Center for any potential threats.

Detectives observed the note and said it appeared to be pieced together using clippings from a book or magazine. The top read “conviction” and the scraps of paper implied that an explosive may be located at the courthouse. According to an affidavit filed in the Wabash County Courthouse, police submitted the note to the forensics lab for testing and labeled it high priority. Results revealed a possible match for Miller, who detectives later learned missed his court date on the same day the note was found.

A search warrant for Miller’s home on West Hill Street was granted and executed on Friday, March 15. Miller was found in his home along with drug paraphernalia and two sawed off shotguns. Detectives also located books that appeared to match the scraps used to make the note, according to the affidavit.

He was taken into custody, and on his way to the station, he asked if this was about his “suicide note.” Mooney said in the affidavit that he inquired about the note when he interviewed Miller. He explained he’d been going through a tough time and was planning to harm himself at the courthouse on Monday but didn’t go through with it. He told Mooney he was intoxicated when he pieced the note together and doesn’t remember exactly what it said.

Detectives Mooney and Maller contacted local businesses to observe any surveillance footage they might have of someone delivering the note. In the affidavit, Mooney noted an individual similar in appearance to Miller walking past Charley Creek Inn around 5 a.m. Monday carrying an item in their hand. They believed this to be Miller, and he was placed under arrest.

Miller is being held at the Wabash County Jail and has been preliminarily charged with false informing and intimidation, both Level 6 felonies.

On Friday, Criminal Investigator Terry Weaver with the prosecutor’s office said any threat on a government building is a felony. If Miller is found guilty, he could face between six months and two and a half years in jail, with one year being the advisory sentence. Weaver said it’s unlikely any higher felony charges will be pursued.

WPD Public Information Officer Cap. Matt Benson said it’s not the first time Wabash County has seen a threat to one of its public buildings, and explained that their goal was to “do our job and do it quietly.”

“When you have a situation like this, that’s the main thing. You want to make sure people are safe and do it in a way that doesn’t create panic,” he said.

The Monday the note was discovered, the judicial center was evacuated and closed until 2 p.m. while bomb sniffing K-9 officers were used to clear the building, requiring the knowledge and cooperation of the Indiana State Police, the Wabash Police Department and the Wabash County Sheriff’s Department. Benson said the four-day investigation is an example of what happens when multiple entities combine their resources.

“This was a true joint investigation,” he said. “We had three departments cooperating and following up on every possible lead we had … That cooperation led to a thorough and quick arrest without injury, and we made sure everyone was safe. That’s what we work for.”