Thursday, May 22, 2003

Accused twins repeat runaways

Teens held in alleged plot to kill their brothers

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MADISON TWP. - Fourteen-year-old twin brothers accused of plotting to stab two siblings to death were repeated runaways - and police recently caught one of the boys with large knives in his front pockets, police records show.

The Butler County sheriff's reports, obtained by the Enquirer via a public-records request, add background to a case that is already drawing national attention. The boys are being held in the county juvenile detention center on delinquency charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder; they are set for a Tuesday court appearance.

When investigators quizzed the twins about an alleged plot to kill their brothers, ages 10 and 15, they spoke casually, nonchalantly, police said.

"There's no doubt in our minds that these kids were serious," Butler County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Craft said Wednesday. "I talked to one of them personally, and his demeanor, it was so matter-of-fact, it was just haunting."

Detective Jason Rosser said he sympathized with the boys' mother, who made the gut-wrenching decision to come forward with evidence of their alleged scheme: a tape-recording.

In a videotaped interview with WCPO-TV, the 32-year-old single mother said the boys communicated with unique sign language, which they call "twin talk," and each twin seems to be able to tell what the other is thinking.

"They were doing a lot of whispering Sunday," the woman said. "I knew they were up to something. ... I was just really nervous Sunday and I put the tape-recorder underneath their bed."

She listened to the tape-recording Monday morning. It contained "threatening statements" about the boys' siblings, a sheriff's report says.

Investigators wouldn't disclose anything else about the tape or the alleged threats. Officers also wouldn't discuss a possible motive for the alleged plot. But police said the twins apparently planned to use knives in an attack planned for Monday night.

Deputies arrested the boys around 3 p.m. Monday at Madison Junior-Senior High School. They were called to an assistant principal's office and their arrests seemed virtually unnoticed that day, said Principal Curtis Philpot.

Philpot said he knew the boys as somewhat mischievous, "definitely active kids - a lot of energy with those two."

But, he said, "It was a little bit of a shocker" to learn they were facing such serious allegations. He noted their mother was cooperative with the boys' teachers and seemed to be "very supportive" of their education.

The boys' mother filed sheriff's reports alleging they ran away three times in April alone. Deputies spotted the twins skateboarding around 2 a.m. April 20 on Trenton-Franklin Road near Ohio 4. When officers took the boys into custody to return them home, they found three knives, each about 10 inches long, in one boy's front pockets, a report says. The knives belonged to the boys' mother; she agreed to press charges.

Both boys had been declared "unruly" by the Butler County Juvenile Court, and both were on probation at the time of their arrest for the alleged conspiracy, said Rob Clevenger, juvenile court administrator.

The boys' mom said she has seen the twins throw sticks and rocks, and damage cars. She thinks the twins need therapeutic counseling or a boot-camp-type program where someone who is bigger than they are can "get in their face" and teach them discipline.


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