GREENLAND, NH – A school bus driver has been arrested, accused of stalking and terrorizing an 8-year-old boy and his family on his bus route.
Federal prosecutors accuse 39-year-old Michael Chick of giving the boy gifts, letters and cell phones. The family reported multiple incidents, eventually leading to an investigation.
Chick has only been charged with interstate stalking. He is in custody pending a hearing to decide if he's too dangerous to be released on bail.
When Chick began giving gifts to the 8-year-old on his school bus and asking to attend his Little League games in April, the boy's parents went to authorities who warned Chick to back off.
"It is paramount that we protect our most vulnerable, and in this case, the vulnerable is a child," said Jane Young, U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire.
Which is why the feds got involved in July, when the boy's mother found two prepaid Tracfones in his room, allegedly given to him by the suspect so the child could take semi-nude photos of himself and send them onto to Chick.
But prosecutors say the depth of Chick's scheme really came to light when they scoured the surveillance video and audio from his school bus. The feds say it revealed that Chick had spent several weeks telling the boy that some bad men, a group he called "the team", was threatening to kidnap and torture him and harm his family if the youngster didn't provide a steady stream of photos.
When they boy complied, Chick allegedly sent a note that said, "good job" and "you saved yourself."
When the boy didn't, prosecutors say Chick made it look like "the team" was threatening him and the boy. "We are done (expletive) around", said one note. "Make this happen now or the kid disappears."
Chick even allegedly told the boy he was paying the group $1,000 a week not to harm him.
Last week, the feds raided the suspect's home in Eliot, Maine where he lives with his mother.
"Right up until yesterday, we had been asking 'what is this about? What is he being charged with?'" his brother Jerry Chick said. "They would not tell us."
When police searched Chick's house and car, they found Tracfones and digital cameras with forensic evidence. Also found was duct tape, rubber gloves, children's underwear, and toys. They now wonder how many other victim's there might be.
"We are trying to determine the scope of conduct in this case," Jane Young said.
Prosecutors say Chick secretly visited the boy's home at night and even put a tracking device on his parents' car.
Chick was employed as a school bus driver and was assigned to bus routes servicing the Greenland Central School in Greenland, New Hampshire. The feds have set up a special hotline number for parents whose kids may have had contact with Chick: 603-722-1751.
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