WINDHAM — Police have charged a 16-year-old Windham boy with felony terrorizing in connection with emailed threats that shut down Windham and Raymond schools for three days.

The boy, identified by his father as Justin Woodbury, sent emails to two school administrators Monday morning in which he threatened to use weapons, police said. Investigators found and seized a firearm Tuesday evening when they searched the home where he lives with his parents, police said Wednesday.

In an exclusive interview with the Portland Press Herald, John Woodbury said his son, who attends a charter school in Portland, is not a killer and is not crazy.

“No one’s life was ever in any danger,” Woodbury said in a telephone interview Wednesday evening, one day after Windham police took the 16-year-old into custody.

“Everyone who knows Justin has plenty of good things to say about him,” Woodbury said. “He’s not crazy or violent. The people who are saying that don’t know him.”

The teenager was expected to make an initial appearance for a detention hearing in juvenile court Thursday. Police would not identify him Wednesday, but the felony charges meant that he was expected to be named in court documents Thursday.

The teenager is charged with eight counts of terrorizing, one for each of the schools affected, and is being held at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland. Woodbury said his son will be represented by a court-appointed attorney.

Police said they do not believe anyone else was involved in the threats, and schools in Regional School Unit 14 were reopening for all 3,300 students Thursday morning.

“We will get back to normal,” said Superintendent Sandy Prince. Police will be at the schools to reassure students and parents, and counselors will be available for several days to meet with any students who want to talk about the incident, he said.


Woodbury said his son had attended Windham schools, but left the district after completing middle school two years ago. He is currently enrolled as a junior at Baxter Academy for Science and Technology, a charter school in Portland.

Michele LaForge, head of school at Baxter, declined to comment for this story but sent an email to students and parents Wednesday night that said, “Building a school is hard, and we have hard days. Today was hard and I’m sure there will be more challenges ahead. We’ll face them together.”

Woodbury said his son left Windham schools because he felt he would get more instruction in his fields of interest – computers and technology – at Baxter Academy.

He said Justin has been doing well at Baxter, where he helped set up the school’s computer network. Baxter is a college preparatory high school focused on science, technology, engineering and math.

“He spends all his time on computers,” his father said. “All his friends are virtual.”

The nature of the threats that Justin Woodbury allegedly made remain a mystery even to his family. Woodbury said police seized his son’s computer Tuesday evening and would not discuss the content of the emails.

“I am not a computer person. I don’t even have a Facebook page,” said Woodbury, a construction contractor.

“I wish I knew more, but I’m being kept in the dark,” he said.

Woodbury and his wife, Tina, don’t know why their son would email threats to Windham schools. But Woodbury, who has three other children, has a theory.

He said his son did not hold any grudges toward anyone in the district and had no reason to target schools there.

“I think someone in Windham dared him to do this,” Woodbury speculated. “I told the police (that) my son didn’t do this alone. It served no purpose. There is more to this than meets the eye.”

Woodbury said he decided to speak out Wednesday night because of what he called misinformation and rumors on social media.

He said his son does not have a violent nature. When he witnessed his uncle shoot a squirrel, Justin became nauseous, his father said.

“It’s been hard on us. He’s our son and we love him, but he’s going to have to take responsibility for his actions,” Woodbury said.


The news of the arrest came as a relief to parents and students who were unsettled by the lockdown and evacuation Monday, and the precautionary closing of schools Tuesday and Wednesday during the investigation.

“I never expected anything like this to happen in Windham,” Sadie Nelson, a junior at Windham High School, said Wednesday. “We didn’t know what was happening at first when we were in lockdown. … I was in the library. No one was allowed out of their rooms.”

Nelson and her friends said even the news of an arrest won’t prevent them from feeling nervous about going back to school Thursday.

“At first I wasn’t that nervous, but now I’m a little nervous. I’ll be nervous about going back,” Nelson said.

“It was scary at the time, but they got us out of school quickly,” said Mya Mannette, a sophomore at the high school. “I’m going to be nervous to go back.”

Windham police Lt. Jim Boudreau said the teenager did not resist arrest Tuesday evening, but he would not say whether the boy confessed to sending the threats.

Police withheld details about what evidence led them to the house, and would only say that a firearm was seized. “Some of the evidence collected indicates there was a potential for danger to students and staff,” Boudreau said.

The suspect made efforts to disguise the origin of the email messages, which appeared to be sent from two sources, police said.

“We feel very fortunate we were able to work through this as quickly as we could. Frankly, I wasn’t certain it was going to go this quickly,” said Boudreau. “In today’s day and age, you have to err on the side of caution.”


All 3,300 students were sent home Monday morning, and parents had to scramble for child care or take time off from work while the investigation continued. The abrupt closure of the schools in both towns and the extended closures had many in the two towns mystified and concerned.

“Three thousand kids out of school – I can’t even imagine how much that has cost the community,” said Jennifer Pooler of Windham, who took her 8-year-old son out for breakfast early Wednesday before heading back home to work. She said she was lucky to be able to work from home, and that she felt bad for families that had to scramble to find child care.

Parents at a Windham High School basketball game Wednesday evening in Gorham said they were pleased with the way the district handled the threats. The game was moved to the University of Southern Maine campus in Gorham as a precaution.

“The community came together. Everyone was very supportive. It was impressive,” said Mike Coffin, who has a son at the high school and a daughter in the middle school. “The school administrators, teachers and support staff handled the situation very well. They kept the parents informed.”

Kate Brix, a school board member from Windham, said she was proud of the way police and school officials handled the threat, and that she was confident the district would make students feel safe as schools reopen.

“I hope the transition back in the next few days is smooth,” she said. “We’ll have lots of support in place for those who are anxious.”


Criminal suspects under the age of 18 are often not identified by name. But Assistant District Attorney Christine Thibeault, head of juvenile prosecutions for the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office, said that when a child is charged with a felony, their identity becomes a public record.

Juveniles are not entitled to bail because they are in the adult criminal justice system. Instead, a judge will evaluate whether it is necessary to detain the child, she said.

According to Maine law, a person is guilty of felony criminal terrorizing if they threaten a crime of violence dangerous to human life and the threat results in the evacuation of a building.

Staff writers David Hench, Tom Chard and Scott Dolan contributed to this report.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

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