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.
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.