By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
The officers marched the teens through the Freeport City Police Department downstairs to the courtroom. The girls were shaking and clinging to each other. Even the guys were crying. They were told not to talk.
The officers told the group that three teens in the room had compiled the list of their names. Now the outcasts couldn't trust even their fellow outcasts. They were more alone than before.
The kids remember the officers saying that if they talked to each other, they'd be put in a jail cell, and if they tried to escape, they would face five years in prison. Tabitha Leavey's wrists were bleeding from too-tight handcuffs. She was too scared to tell the police they were hurting her.
The kids called their parents and waited for them to show up at the courthouse. Lucas called his grandmother and had her call his mom at work. He told his grandma he didn't know what he had done wrong.
Lucas's mother, Caroline Thomas, wouldn't sit down and be quiet while the officers waited for all the parents to arrive. She wanted to know what happened and why her son was there. An officer pulled her aside and asked which one was her son. Lucas, she said. He didn't know who that was. That infuriated her. They assured her Lucas hadn't done anything wrong. While she was talking to the officer, Boone came over and told her that Lucas had been talking to the counselor about suicide. He told her she didn't know what her son was up to. (Lucas says it's not true, that he never talked to the counselor about killing himself.)
After all the parents arrived, the officers announced that most of the kids hadn't done anything wrong. They explained the Death Bird note and talked about how they were being cautious. The cops said Death Bird had already confessed and had been taken into custody that morning. Death Bird, it turned out, was a kid who made even the Korn Clubbers nervous.
Confused, Lucas sat there feeling like a criminal. If he hadn't done anything wrong, why was he at the police station? Why wasn't he in the school cafeteria?
As Lucas remembers it, Boone and Captain Richard Miller said that the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been watching the students. They had found syringes and empty alcohol bottles on the beach. They had seen the kids burning fires and devil-worshiping. It's a public beach, Lucas thought. How would they know whose bottles were whose?
John, the surfer, stood up and told Boone that the Korn Club's beach bonfires were to get away from people like him. John said his dad came to the beach parties all the time; John invited Boone to come, too. Boone declined. John then pointed out that some high school cowboys were wearing dusters that day, and those look an awful lot like trench coats. So, he asked, why weren't they arrested?
Lucas thought John made sense. Lucas had never been to a beach party, but he hadn't heard of any drugs or devil-worship among the Korn Club.
Around 5:30 the kids were sent home. Jeremy and his mother spent the night crying. John started sobbing in the car they weren't tears of sadness, he says, they were tears of rage. He had never felt so angry and frustrated in his life.
Other kids were left with more than anger they got a record. Tommy Moore, who'd worn the trench coat, was suspended for three days and charged with disorderly conduct. (The charge was later dropped to "disruption of school facilities," with a $199 fine or 32 hours of community service.) The cops had found a pocketknife illegal on school grounds after searching another member of the Korn Club. Another kid was carrying marijuana.
Lucas, though, hadn't done anything.
Lucas's mother demanded a 7 a.m. conference with Boone the next morning. She took notes.
According to Caroline, Boone said he was sorry that he had her son arrested, but he had to show the kids that he wasn't going to take any crap. Governor George W. Bush was speaking at commencement, and Boone didn't want them to screw it up, she remembers. He told her Lucas had until Monday to get a haircut.
Boone declines to explain his side of the story in detail. "I'm tired of messing with it," Boone says. "I know I did what was right." He offers instead to tell about the governor's visit at graduation.
Doug Hodgins, the school district's attorney, said he would like to talk about the incident but can't because of potential litigation. No one in the Freeport City Police Department would talk about it, either.
John Reynolds, one of the outcasts, hadn't been arrested the day before, because he hadn't been at school. But this morning, he was arrested: The computer teacher, suspicious, had searched his diskette, and found on it a dirty joke. At the police station, he was charged with a misdemeanor obscenity: One of the underage kids in his class, they said, might have seen the joke on his computer screen.