Courts & Corrections

South Burlington teen suspect back in custody

BURLINGTON — The suspect charged with threatening to kill South Burlington High School students and faculty is back in custody after federal prosecutors allege he violated the terms of his release.

Josiah Leach, 18, is accused of making a series of escalating threats in April using a web of email accounts, Facebook and a phone call. The threats led to three days of lockdowns at the high school and resulted in school being canceled districtwide for a day.

Leach faces a felony charge in federal court of “knowingly transmitting in interstate commerce a communication that includes a threat to injure the person or another.” The charge carries up to a five-year prison sentence.

Josiah Leach
A photo of Josiah Leach from his public Facebook page. The South Burlington High School student is charged with making a series of escalating threats against the lives of fellow students and teachers.

Leach was arrested on April 21 and held until April 27 when Judge Christina Reiss authorized his release on conditions.

Prosecutors have presented no evidence that Leach was preparing to make good on the threats, which involved bringing guns and knives to the school and included a murder list naming students and teachers.

The teenager was back in court Friday, this time before Judge Geoffrey Crawford. His defense attorney, Elizabeth Quinn, requested more time to respond to prosecutors allegations that he violated the terms of his release.

Crawford ordered the hearing continued to May 30 at the federal courthouse in Rutland. He further ordered that Leach be held pending the outcome of the hearing, according to court records.

The FBI and South Burlington police allege that since his release Leach fabricated instant messaging conversations on Facebook attempting to pin the crime he’s charged with on a friend with whom he’d had a falling out, according to court records.

They allege that Leach then posted those conversations to a Facebook page they say he created. The U.S. Attorney’s office says that amounts to probable cause that Leach was attempting to “interfere with the investigation and prosecution,” which is a violation of one of the conditions of the release.

Leach was also not supposed to be using the internet at all, or contacting members of the South Burlington High School community, but several people told police he was sharing messages with them on the social network Snapchat, according to court records.

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Morgan True

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  • John Klar

    I find it interesting that no one addresses that his crime was clearly motivated by an intention to stir up racial tensions. If a white supremacist tried to parade as a Muslim jihadist and threatened a school, that would be discussed. When a black kid does it, the media is mum. Maybe someone will discuss that here? It’s as if there wasn’t enough white hatred in Burlington over the school name-change, so he felt he had to fabricate some. This does not help race relations in Vermont. His act should be condemned for its effort to agitate — the real goal of the threat of violence. There’s a lot of criticism of Vermonters as racist lately, and for Vermont being “too white.” Where does this come from? Vermonters are by-and-large a benevolent and tolerant people, who don’t deserve to be unjustly maligned, or roundly stereotyped. Maybe a vtdigger reporter will do a piece on this aspect of this crime — I have not heard any media outlet willing yet to even address the issue.

    • chris wilmot

      Sadly many leftwing “adults” have been conditioned to hate themselves because of the color of skin they were born into. It’s bizarre- but these people are racist against their own race.
      It’s had a disastrous effect on our nation and has left a generation of white youth hating themselves

  • Neil Johnson

    Our schools and local attitudes have done our youth no real service. Rather than taking responsibility and asking for mercy, changing the direction of his ways this young man is doubling down on the tack in which he set his sail. This has been taught by the new Vermont Culture, most definitely taught in school.

    He’s brought up in a new Vermont culture that says you are not responsible for your actions, it is not your fault. Kids are given partial credit in math, despite having the wrong answers. Self esteem is very high, but abilities count for nothing. Protesting is the rage in our state, to be worn as a badge of pride, regardless of the cause. If you can yell xenophobe, sexism, misogynist, and the crown jewel racism while at a protest you will be rewarded with great praise from the new Vermont culture.

    What is so sad, a young man, with obvious computer skills that are worth money into days world will probably go to jail. If he had been taught the truth and how to navigate in our world, about consequences he might of had a promising career instead of jail time.

    Not to worry there will be more to fill his shoes, the new Vermont culture will indoctrinate more of our youth, we’ll raise more people to not take responsibility for their actions. We have set a course for our youth, it might not be the best. We as a state need to change our course and tell our children the truth.