NH school bus driver accused of stalking, threatening 8-year-old boy and his family

GREENLAND, N.H. — A Maine man working as a school bus driver in New Hampshire is facing charges after investigators said he stalked and threatened a young boy and his family.

Federal prosecutors said in a news release that Michael Chick was arrested on federal charges of interstate stalking.

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According to court documents, Chick became focused on an 8-year-old boy on his bus, giving him and his sister gifts, noticing when the children were absent from school, and leaving letters at the family’s home saying he missed them. Federal prosecutors say the child’s parents first approached the school in April with concerns, after finding the gifts Chick had given the children.

The parents told investigators they became increasingly concerned when Chick asked if he could attend the 8-year-old’s Little League Game, prompting the school to move Chick to a different bus route, WFXT reported. A police officer was also sent to talk to Chick and ask him to have no further contact with the child or his family.

Despite the warnings, prosecutors said Chick continued to have contact with the child. In early July, the family called the police after finding two cell phones inside a lunch box inside their son’s room, WFXT reported. The child said the phones were a gift from Chick.

Surveillance video from Chick’s bus showed conversations between the driver and the child, including an exchange during which Chick was heard saying, “I’m not mad at you. I understand why you didn’t lie to your mom. We’re still in this situation, right? Have you been worried about it? Remember our deal? The reason they haven’t gone to that (inaudible) is I’ve been paying $1,000 a week (inaudible) hold them off while I try to figure out what I gotta do,” WFXT reported.

When officers interviewed the child, he said that Chick told him about an organization called “The Team,” which had between eight and 800 members, and if the child did not meet the demands, he would be at risk of being kidnapped and tortured, according to court documents.

When Chick was arrested, officers found a phone, a digital camera, duct tape, rubber gloves, sweet (candy) liquor, candy, children’s clothing and children’s toys in his car, according to documents filed in federal court.

Court documents indicate when investigators executed search warrants, they found cellphones, handwritten notes including instructions to the 8-year-old child, threats written on a computer and a bag of children’s underwear, WFXT reported.

Investigators said that Chick admitted to threatening the boy and placing GPS tracking devices on his parents’ cars, and said he visited the family’s home six to ten times at night, “just to walk around the house,” WFXT reported.

The bus company, First Student, told WFXT that Chick is no longer employed as a driver. In a statement to WFXT, the company said: “At First Student, we take these charges very seriously. Behavior such as this is completely unacceptable and at odds with what we stand for as a company. First student no longer employs the driver. We are cooperating with the authorities and given that this is an active investigation, we are unable to comment further.”

Investigators told WFXT that they are looking into whether there may be other victims, as well as whether Chick is connected to a report of a man taking photos of children at a water park in July.