James Rada, Jr.
(4/5) Thurmont Middle School teacher
Michelle Dohm was found guilty on Monday April
2 on five counts of making false bomb threats
to five different students at the school.
“The defendant is in fact responsible for
the creation and delivery of these five
documents,” Frederick County Circuit Court
Judge Julie Stevenson Solt said after hearing
a statement of facts read into the record. The
documents were essentially bomb threats sent
to five different students in Thurmont.
Solt presided over the trial, which lasted
less than an hour. Dohm pled not guilty to an
agreed-upon statement of facts. Because of
this, Dohm gave up her right to a jury trial
and the right to hear and call witnesses. On
the prosecution side, the state agreed to ask
for no more than 18 months of prison time in
the Frederick County Detention Center, though
each count carried a maximum penalty of 10
years and/or $10,000.
A soft-spoken Dohm took the witness stand
to answer questions from Solt to make sure she
understood the implications of the agreement
she had made.
Dohm, a sixth-grade teacher at Thurmont
Middle School who has been on unpaid
administrative leave since Nov. 2005, was
indicted in December 2005 on charges stemming
from October incidents where she sent letters
to students that intimated a bomb threat and
death threats against the students. Many of
the letters used the phrase, “Tick tock. Tick
tock. Is it a bomb or is it a clock?”
States Attorney Charlie Smith read the
statement of facts into the record. It
detailed the progression of the investigation
and the unfolding of the events.
It began in September 2005 with a sealed
letter Dohm said a woman had asked her to give
to the administration. The letter told the
administration to check a Landon Routzahn’s
locker for knives. Dohm could only give a
vague description of the woman who asked her
to deliver the note.
“To this day, this woman has never
re-appeared at Thurmont Middle School nor has
she been identified,” Smith said.
The tone of the letters escalated from
terms like “suffer”, “bound and tied” and
“shoot you” to the bomb intimations.
An additional incident in April 2006 was
the basis of one of the five charges against
Dohm. This incident came after Dohm had
already been indicted four months earlier.
Forensic evidence that included microscopic
examination of the stamps on the mailed
threats and handwriting analysis linked Dohm
to some of the letters and the letters to each
other. Through the connections, Smith said,
“it is more likely than not that the defendant
prepared the note that was left in the boys’
bathroom in Thurmont Middle School on Nov. 21,
2005, as well as the note left on the
Routzahn’s vehicle on Sept. 30, 2005.
Consequently, it is more likely than not that
the defendant prepared the notes that were
delivered on Apr. 21, 2006 by U.S. Postal
Service to both Dennis Tokar and Kenny Kober.”
Other circumstantial evidence linked Dohm
to the situation, including knowing
information she shouldn’t have known or being
seen where letters appeared shortly before
their appearance. In one instance, temporary
printing files on Dohm’s school computer
showed that some of the threatening letters
had been printed from it on a day when there
were no students in the school, but Dohm had
been seen at her computer.
An April 2006 search and seizure of her
home yielded the stamps that were connected to
the ones used to mail letters to students and
handwritten practice threats.
“I would wager to say the entire community
is offended by what she did,” Smith said after
Dohm will be sentenced at a hearing on June
26. At that time, families of the victims are
expected to make their wishes known. Dohm also
has to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before
“The only thing that is really perplexing
is why she did it,” Smith said. He added that
the prosecution has some theories, which they
will present at the sentencing hearing, but
they are only theories. Dohm is the only one
who knows her reasoning.
A timeline of events
- Sept. 28, 2005 – Dohm delivers sealed
letter from mystery woman urging a student’s
locker to be checked for knives.
- Sept. 30, 2005 - A student’s father
finds a letter threatening his son on the
windshield of his vehicle. The house is along
Dohm’s regular walking route.
- Oct. 14, 2005 - Threatening letters
printed from Dohm’s school computer when no
students were in the school but Dohm was seen
at her computer.
- Oct. 17, 2005 - Four students find the
letters printed from Dohm’s computer in their
lockers that reference bombs.
- Nov. 1, 2, 2005 - Staff at TMS find
additional threatening letters.
- Nov. 3, 2005 - Dohm tells vice
principal she received a call from a young boy
saying “Tick tock tick tock” on Oct. 24.
- Nov. 4, 2005 - When records are
checked, no call was made and Dohm has dropped
her cell phone service.
- Nov. 16, 2005 - Dohm suspended from
- Nov. 21, 2005 - A note threatening a
bomb explosion is found in the boys’ bathroom.
- Dec. 22, 2005 - First indictments
- Mar. 31, 2006 - TMS student receives
threatening letter in the mail.
- Apr. 21, 2006 - Same student receives a
second note in the mail. Another student also
gets a threatening note. Police execute search
and seizure of Dohm’s home.
- Apr. 22, 2006 - Dohm contacts mother of
student who received the day before and has
knowledge that police hadn’t made public. Dohm
also called postmaster to check on whether
mail can be traced.
- Apr. 2, 2007 - Dohm convicted.