Chesterton Tribune



Accused VU hoaxer himself the victim of a phone hoax two days after his arrest

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The Chesterton man accused of perpetrating a hostage hoax at Valparaiso University on April 22 appears to have been the victim of someone else’s hoax two days after the incident.

On April 24, Chesterton Police officers responded to the home of Michael Clemens, 20, in the 800 block of West Porter Ave., after a call was made to the Porter County Sheriff’s Police landline by someone calling himself “Michael.” That person gave an address coinciding with Clemens’ own and then stated that “he was feeling suicidal and wanted to hurt his mom and dad.”

CPD officers subsequently determined that, whoever the caller really was, it couldn’t have been Clemens.

That, according to the investigating officer’s report.

The call in question--no identification was made of the originating number--went to the PCSP landline at approximately 9 p.m. and was then transferred to the CPD dispatcher. Officers were still en route to the Clemens residence when one of them recognized the address as that of the man who’d been charged in connection with the VU hoax. That information he shared with the other responders, who learned as they were arriving at the house that the caller was still on the line with the dispatcher but that a second dispatcher had succeeded in making contact with Clemens’ mother.

Clemens’ mother, meanwhile, was telling the second dispatcher “that there was no problem” and that everyone currently in the residence--her son included--would wait for officers outside the house.

At that point officers, from a position “a few houses down” from the Clemens residence, observed four people walking out its front door. They were later identified as Clemens, Clemens’ mother--who was seen to be talking on a phone--and two of Clemens’ friends.

Officers proceeded to make contact with the group and it was “while we were speaking with them,” the investigating officer stated in his report, that the first dispatcher advised that the supposedly suicidal “caller had just hung up the phone or disconnected.”

Clemens’ mother, on being advised of the situation, “was very cooperative and understanding”; told the officers that her son had been in the basement playing Scrabble with his two friends, that “she could hear them laughing,” and that “there didn’t seem to be any problems”; and gave the officers access to the house’s landline phone and to her husband’s cell phone, which her son had “been using since the VU incident.”

Also presented for inspection to the officers: the cell phones belonging to Clemens’ two friends.

None of the four phones’ logs showed any call to a law enforcement agency.

The investigating officer then asked Clemens a series of questions. Had he made any calls to the police? Clemens said he hadn’t. Was he feeling as though he wanted to hurt himself or his parents? Clemens said he wasn’t. Did he want to speak with a physician? Clemens said he didn’t.

“I advised Michael as to why we were there and that we were obligated to ask such questions because of the seriousness of the call we received,” the investigating officer stated. “And he responded that someone has been setting him up and he doesn’t know who it is. He also continued to say that he was innocent of the things the newspaper said and that he didn’t do any of it.”

The CPD cleared the scene after officers were unable to link any of the phones at the Clemens residence to the call itself; but were able to observe Clemens in the flesh while simultaneously someone purporting to be Clemens was talking to the dispatcher. Clemens has been charged with intimidation and false informing. He was taken into custody late in the evening of April 22, a few hours after law enforcement determined that a reported hostage taking at the VU library was a hoax. Investigators were initially tipped to Clemens by his cousin, a Porter police officer, who identified him as a suspect from a tape of the 911 call.

Clemens--who was released from the Porter County Jail on a $1,000 cash bond the day after the hoax--has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

His attorney, Gary Germann, declined to comment on the April 24 incident at Clemens’ home. But that incident does explain Germann’s motion to secure a court order preserving two 911 calls, the first made on the day of the hoax itself, at 7:04 p.m. April 22; the second--and the one of interest here--made two days later, at 9 p.m. April 24. Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford granted Germann’s motion and ordered the recordings of those two calls preserved.

Trial has been set for Nov. 9.




Posted 6/11/2015




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