The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 14, 2003


Assessors' office gets threatening message

An anonymous threatening message was left on the answering machine at the assessors' office late Friday, January 31. It was played for the first time when town offices opened on Monday, February 3 and Carlisle Police were contacted immediately. Police chief David Galvin says police have maintained a "heightened presence" at Town Hall since the threat was received.

Message on answering machine

John Speidel, the town assessor, discovered the message when he downloaded the answering machine in the assessors' office on Monday morning. The message is brief and impassioned: after the assessor's recorded announcement, a deep, urgent whisper says "I know what you did and I swear to God I'm going to kill you all for it. You're all going to f___ die." That is the entire recording and the machine indicates it was received at 10:15 p.m.

The town telephone system does not have caller ID, so the tracking procedure is more complicated than it might otherwise be. Galvin says Verizon has cooperated with his office to trace the call and he expects their investigations will be concluded this week. When asked, he said a threatening call of this nature is considered a misdemeanor and the perpetrator, if identified, would be arrested.

Possible motives

Town officials and police speculated on two possible motives for the call. Tax abatement decisions were mailed earlier in the week and would have been received on Thursday or Friday (January 30 or 31). Someone who did not receive the amount of abatement requested or whose request was denied could have made the call. The other possible trigger for the threat may have been an article in the January 31 issue of the Mosquito ("Assessor finds large errors in property records"). The source of the errors was a database which listed homes as being significantly smaller than the existing square footage. A resident whose property had been underevaluated and who would now be facing higher taxes on the basis of new information could have made the call. In the absence of further information, these two possibilities are simply conjecture.

As of Wednesday afternoon, no new calls have been received. Unscheduled police patrols continue at Town Hall as Galvin awaits further information from Verizon, which must be subpoenaed. Although Galvin has requested a subpeona from the district court, he has as yet received no response.

Town employees come to work every day and it looks like business as usual. But it is different now. Last week, when a visitor to Town Hall asked for directions to the assessors' office, "We all froze," said a Town Hall employee.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito