Friday, November 10, 2000

Prank caller sentenced to undergo counseling

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OXFORD — Larry Mullins, who made prank phone calls to frightened relatives of murder and traffic accident victims, avoided a jail sentence Thursday, but was fined and ordered to undergo psychological counseling.

        Mr. Mullins had pleaded no contest Sept. 7 to a misdemeanor charge of telephone harassment stemming from a May 15 call to a Morgan Township woman whose daughter-in-law had been killed in a traffic accident 10 years ago.

        Police said Mr. Mullins, 58, of Hamilton, has made more than 100 prank calls to relatives of victims of tragedies that occurred years ago.

[photo] Larry Mullins (left) tells Judge Rob Lyons on Thursday that he will never again make harassing phone calls to murder and traffic accident victims. With him is attorney Carl Ferris.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        Butler County sheriff's deputies confiscated more than 230 journals containing newspaper clippings and notes about missing persons, crimes and fatal acci dents. He often called the relatives on the anniversaries of the tragedies.

        “I'm sorry, and I'll never do it again,” Mr. Mullins told Judge Rob Lyons in Butler County Area I Court before he was sentenced.

        The judge found him guilty of the charge. He said that, based on a presentence report and a psychological evaluation, he didn't think jail was appropriate for him.

        “I do believe you need therapy and counseling,” the judge said.

        He gave him a suspended jail sentence of 180 days, fined him $1,000, ordered him to undergo counseling and placed him on probation for two years.

        He told him not to make any more prank calls. He also ordered the sheriff's office to keep Mr. Mullins' confiscated journals.

        “Can I get my journals back some day?” Mr. Mul lins said.

        The judge said he didn't know.

        The sheriff's office said they tracked down eight other victims of his prank calls, but they didn't want to press charges.

        Mr. Mullins is unemployed and lives with relatives. He had no criminal record, said his attorney, Carl Ferris.

        He and Judge Lyons said they're still not sure why Mr. Mullins make the prank calls.

        “This situation troubles me greatly,” Judge Lyons said. “I still don't understand this.”

        Shirle Weartz, the Morgan Township woman he called May 15, said she's satisfied with the sentence.

        “I didn't want to see the man's whole life ruined,” she said. “I am very glad he is going to get help.”

        Mr. Mullins had left a message on her answering machine, saying he was involved in the fatal traffic accident involving her daughter-in-law and wanted to tell Mrs. Weartz' granddaughter, then 12, that he was sorry.

        Mrs. Weartz said the phone call scared her granddaughter for months.

        “She slept in the chair in our bedroom for a long time,” she said. “She wouldn't open a window or the blinds. She still sleeps with a light on in her room.”


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