Police in Florida said two pre-teen girls, who told them they were “Satan worshipers,” brought butcher knives and a pizza cutter to school and told detectives they had been planning to stab more than a dozen students to death.
The middle school students made comments that “they were willing to drink blood and possibly eat flesh,” Bartow, Florida, Police Chief Joe Hall said at a news conference on Wednesday.
They girls, aged 11 and 12, enrolled in sixth and seventh grade, respectively, at Bartow Middle School, were arrested Tuesday, the Washington Post reported, The newspaper does not identify juveniles charged with crimes unless they are tried as adults.
Hall said that police had gotten word on Monday that there would be “issues” at the middle school. A student had informed a teacher that “something bad” was going to happen; therefore, extra officers were present on Tuesday. From that point, things intensified:
When the 11-year-old failed to show up for her second period class, her mother received a robo-call notifying her that her daughter was absent, Hall said. The girl’s mother contacted the school and said she believed that her daughter was on campus, prompting administrators to launch a search. An assistant principal found the two girls hiding in a bathroom with a goblet, Hall said. Suspecting that it might have been used to drink alcohol, she escorted them both to the principal’s office. When the principal, Christopher Roberts, ordered the 11-year-old to empty her pockets, she handed over a paring knife and a sharpener, Hall said. Asked why she had a weapon, the girl said that she and the other student were planning on attacking as many students as possible. Officials then searched the 12-year-old and found several other knives and a pizza cutter in her possession. Hall didn’t specify what the pizza cutter’s intended use was. After being taken into police custody, the girls told detectives that they had wanted to kill at least 15 people and were in the bathroom waiting for an opportunity. They also said they had planned on targeting smaller students whom they could easily overpower, Hall said.
As the investigation continued, police found a hand-drawn map in the 12-year-old’s home of the middle school’s campus that said, “Go to kill in bathroom.” On the students’ phones, officers found that the two had discussed killing themselves after leaving their classmates’ body parts by the school’s entrance. “Thank Satan we are doing this in a bit,” the 12-year-old allegedly wrote in a message over social media on Tuesday.
The Post said the two students are in custody and have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a weapon on school property and disrupting a school campus. Prosecutors have not yet indicated whether they will be charged as juveniles or adults. Police believe the students’ parents were unaware of the plot. The news report concluded:
“If you were an adult, you’d be looking at potential life in prison,” Hall said. “In this case, I think the state is going to step in and try to make the best decisions for both the public and the two suspects.” Hall also noted that “there may be some mental health issues here that have to be addressed.” Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said at Wednesday’s news conference that the district will be filing for expulsion of the students, and that she was not aware of the two students having any prior disciplinary problems. Byrd didn’t explain how the students had been able to bring knives onto campus, but credited the district’s safety procedures with thwarting an attack. “The plan worked,” she said.