Tahlequah Daily Press

April 3, 2013

Threatening letter directed at judge

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Agents with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and District 27 Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force on Tuesday were investigating a threatening letter directed at a district judge.

Authorities responded to the third floor of the Cherokee County Courthouse at about 3 p.m. when a judge’s secretary opened a letter and discovered the threat inside the envelope, which also contained a white, powdery substance.

Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault confirmed the letter was intended for a district judge. Sources at the courthouse also told a Tulsa TV station the threat included mention of the deaths of Texas prosecutors, which have been highly publicized in recent days.

Tahlequah-Cherokee County Emergency Management officials and Tahlequah firefighters were dispatched to the courthouse. They conducted a test on the white, powdery substance, which was determined to be talcum powder.

Deputies evacuated the third floor of the courthouse when the letter was discovered, and all court proceedings were postponed for the afternoon.

Chennault said the sheriff’s office notified the OSBI of the threats contained in the letter because the state agency has original jurisdiction over threats made to members of the Oklahoma judicial system.

Tuesday’s incident at the courthouse came less than a week after a suspect phoned a county office and said there was a bomb inside the building. Officials evacuated the building and closed the courthouse for half the day, but later determined there was no bomb inside.

Three people were detained and questioned in the bomb threat, but were later released. Authorities said they are still investigating that incident as well.