Using candy, Pokémon cards, and the threat of a mysterious criminal organization that would kill his family if he did not comply, a New Hampshire school bus driver attempted to convince an 8-year-old boy into taking photographs of himself, according to a criminal complaint.
The document, filed last Friday, paints a disturbing picture of an alleged stalker who spent months obsessing over his target, going so far as to invite himself to one of the boy’s Little League games.
The driver, a 39-year-old Maine man named Michael Chick, was arrested Friday night, New England Cable News reported. He is now facing a federal charge of interstate stalking, according to New Hampshire District Attorney Jane Young.
The boy, identified in court documents only as “AC,” was a young Greenland Central School student on one of Chick’s bus routes. Earlier this year, the driver began presenting the 8-year-old and his sister with small gifts, according to the complaint. Chick also allegedly left letters at their home whenever one of the children missed school, explaining how much he missed them.
AC’s parents, already rattled, grew more concerned when Chick approached the mother to ask if he could attend one of the boy’s Little League games. They contacted school officials, who requested Chick be assigned to a different route.
On May 6, officers with the Greenland Police Department approached Chick for the first time. When one asked Chick why he thought law enforcement wanted to speak with him, the bus driver “responded that it ‘probably’ had to do with AC,” the complaint says. The officers cautioned Chick not to contact the boy or his family again.
Two months later, AC’s father was cleaning the boy’s closet when he stumbled upon two cell phones squirreled away in a Pokémon lunch box. Chick later told investigators that, several days after the officers’ warning, he had called AC over to his bus to give him the phones. Reluctant at first, the 8-year-old eventually accepted the devices. According to the complaint, “AC told his parents that he had only spoken to Chick one time on one of the phones and they talked about Pokémon.”
The family, fearing that Chick was planning to kidnap their son, installed surveillance cameras around their residence. What they didn’t realize was that Chick, using magnetic GPS trackers, was already keeping tabs on both their family vehicles. (Investigators later retrieved the devices after Chick confessed to having secretly installed them.)
Throughout May and June, the driver had begun to allude to a shadowy “they” and “them” in threatening conversations with AC, bus surveillance footage obtained by investigators showed.
“We’re still in this situation, right?” Chick can be heard asking in footage from May 13, according to the complaint. “Have you been worried about it?”
“Yeah,” the boy replied.
Occasionally muffled by the chatter of other students, Chick continued: “Remember our deal? The reason they haven’t gone to that [inaudible] is I’ve been paying $1,000 a week [inaudible] hold them off while I try to figure out what I gotta do.”
In a June 6 conversation, the driver warned the boy that “yesterday, when... you were at your grandmother’s house, we were right across the street.”
“I’m doing everything I can to stop them from doing very bad things,” he added.
In other conversations, Chick gave the boy instructions on how to use the cell phone, pressuring him to use it “in the bathroom” at school, the complaint states.
On Friday, AC felt brave enough to fill in the gaps for investigators about the driver’s threats, according to court records.
The boy said that Chick had talked about an organization known as “The Team,” which had between eight and 800 members. If “AC did not meet their demands,” the complaint explains, “‘The Team’ would go to ‘Plan B,’ which would result in AC being kidnapped and tortured.”
The Team, the boy claimed Chick told him, liked clothing and underwear.
An Aug. 5 search warrant executed at Chick’s home in Eliot, Maine turned up several disturbing items, including a large Ziplock baggie of children’s underwear, and a note—handwritten as though addressed to AC—that read: “Good job, you were great last night. Thank you. You saved yourself. Would have taken you away on Friday.”
Other notes were found in Chick’s bedroom, according to the complaint, including one with detailed instructions on how to take body selfies, offering the recipient “extra credit” if they recorded a “video of anything you would consider naughty.”
Several printed-out pages were more explicitly threatening. “YOU HAD TOO MANY CHANCES THIS IS NOT WORKING WE ARE DONE FUCKING AROUND,” one warned, “MAKE THIS HAPPEN NOW OR THE KID DISAPPEARS.”
“TODAY IS THE DAY YOU HAVE HAD FAR TOO MANY CHANCES,” another read in part. “SAY GOODBYE. WE ARE DOING THIS. DO NOT RUN. DO NOT HIDE. WE KNOW WHERE TO GET YOU.”
That Friday night, Chick arrived at the residence as officers were executing the warrant. Standing out on his front lawn, he told investigators that he had visited AC’s home at night between six and 10 times over the past few months, just to walk around the house. He was arrested soon after.
The bus driver has been ordered to remain in custody pending a detention hearing later this month.