Girl, 13, arrested in connection with social media threats in Splendora

Facebook cooperates with law enforcement

By Amanda Perez, Syan Rhodes - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - A 13-year-old Splendora resident has been arrested and charged with a third degree felony after investigators say she used a fake Facebook account to send threatening messages to other students.

The Montgomery County Precinct 4 Constable's Office began their investigation Friday upon receiving reports that several young people had received messages from someone using the name of "Melissa Johnson." Investigators said some of the messages included phrases such as, "I am going to kill everyone in Splendora on July 13, 2014."

Splendora parent Amy Gaskamp said her 13-year-old son Cristian Beasley, a cancer patient, received a message that told him he should have died. She contacted law enforcement after learning that many of his fellow classmates received similar messages, saying things such as, "Go die with Cristian Beasley."

Gaskamp said the threats made Cristian sick.

"I didn't know if it was a 13-year-old or an adult. But for me, it was real. My son, being sick because of it, that was real. These kids, commenting on Facebook, that was real," said Gaskamp.

As word of the threats spread, investigators from Precinct 4 worked through the weekend in an effort to trace the source of the messages. They said Facebook initially resisted giving out information to help them identify the suspect, but the social media site eventually turned over information to assist in the investigation.

The community, meanwhile, was on edge. Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth Hayden said his office received numerous calls from Splendora and beyond from people questioning their safety.

On Sunday, investigators took the unidentified 13-year-old into custody at a Harris County residence. They said the teen lives in Splendora and attends school in Splendora ISD but had been staying with family members in Harris County at the time of her arrest. The teen is charged with terroristic threats, a third degree felony.

"It is very serious. It's something that we don't take lightly. If it happens, we're going to investigate it," said Hayden.

Gaskamp said her son learned a valuable lesson because of the incident. She's hoping parents will also take something away from the situation and learn the importance about monitoring their children's social media activity.

"He added her because she was friends with his mutual friends. Well, come to find out, they added her for the same reason," said Gaskamp.

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