Graffiti Investigation Continues

The Andover Town Police have not yet apprehended a culprit in an ongoing investigation of threatening graffiti found on the Commons construction site last week. Students, faculty and staff were notified of the graffiti, which read “Everyone is going to die on 5/30/2008,” in an emergency All-School Meeting held last Thursday. The Andover Police do not believe that the graffiti poses a credible threat. In response, Phillips Academy has halted construction on the Commons site until Commencement. Lieutenant Hashem of the Andover Police said, “[The investigation] is being handled in accordance with the [Andover Town Police’s] policy … I couldn’t put a time frame on it. It depends on where the investigation leads. Hashem said, “We went back a couple of days later and interviewed a couple of people who had access to the site. The interviews did result in further information and further leads.” Phillips Academy has also hired private security personnel from Internal Security Associates, LLC (ISA) to oversee the construction site. Currently, the site is being monitored with 24-hour surveillance cameras and security. Officers from ISA, Phillips Academy Public Safety (PAPS) and the Andover Police will be present at the Commons construction site and around the perimeter of the Phillips Academy campus, beginning on the afternoon of Thursday, May 29, until the end of Friday, May 30. A limited number of workers from Consigli Construction Company, the business managing the renovations, have remained on the site recently for security measures. Consigli personnel will not be permitted on the Commons construction site today. Phillips Academy has also issued a No Trespass Order to one construction worker. The Andover Police noted difficulty while interviewing this worker in the investigative process and recommended that the school follow an appropriate course of action against this employee. The graffiti, which was written in a portable toilet located on the construction site, was written in black marker, according to Nancy Jeton, Special Assistant to the Head of School. She said, “Evidently a lot of these guys on the site carry these markers because they mark stuff up for future references.” Barbara Landis Chase, Head of School, said that the marker was consistent with the other markings found in the portable toilet. Initially, Phillips Academy had considered the possibility of giving a $10,000 reward to a worker who gave information leading to an arrest, according to Chase. After the direction of the investigation shifted over the course of last week, Chase said that this option was dismissed. Extra phone lines were added to the Dean of Students Office following the All-School Meeting held Thursday to accommodate incoming calls from parents. Chase noted that very few calls came through after the meeting. Chase said, “I’ve heard directly from a handful of parents and they’ve all been very grateful for the information [they have received].” Phillips Academy has also notified the Andover Police of an unusual parallel between the graffiti found on the construction site and tag line in the trailer for a film, “The Strangers.” Chase said, “[Since] it was identical basically compared to the tagline, it seemed to us that it was information that might be relevant.” She confirmed that the similarities reinforce that the graffiti does not pose a genuine threat. “[The similarities make] it seem even more like some kind of a hoax,” Chase said.