'I Don't See That As Threatening'By Brian Maass

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Jefferson County District Attorney does not plan to file criminal charges against an Arvada man who wrote anonymous letters to Jefferson County school board members, including pictures of their homes, which left some school board members shaken.

“The intention was to intimidate and make me feel unsafe and scared,” said Stephanie Schooley, one of four Jeffco school board members who received the letter and photo of her home.

(credit: CBS)

The unsigned letters arrived in August with the writer bristling at a mask mandate for students in Jeffco Public Schools.

“We are not concerned with the efficacy of masks or vaccines, only the rights of Jeffco parents to send their children to school while choosing for themselves what is best for their families,” read the letter. “Other Colorado school districts have wisely chosen to allow parents to make the decision for their children, and we request that you and the rest of the Board follow their lead and change Jeffco’s policy to match. We live in your community, and you represent us. We expect you to stand up for our rights. Please do the right thing.”

The letter was signed “Jeffco Parents.”

Four of the school board’s five members received the letters along with a Polaroid photo of their homes.

Schooley told CBS4 her perception was the sender was sending a threat of, “I know where you live.” Schooley, who has two children in Jeffco schools, said when people start coming to her house “It crosses the line.”

Police were asked to investigate the anonymous letters which led them to David Morrill, 40, an Arvada resident, anti-mask advocate and father of two students.

“I wrote those letters,” Morrill admitted to CBS4 during an interview. He said police found his fingerprints on the letters. Morrill said he didn’t sign a name because “This is the view of a lot of Jeffco parents. It wasn’t just me, and I didn’t want them thinking I was just speaking for myself.”

Asked why he went to school board member’s homes, took pictures of their residences, then sent the photos to the board members, Morrill said, “I wanted them to know I was actually there. I wanted them to know we are in the same neighborhood, the same community.”

He said he thought he could run into the school board members and have a conversation at their homes. Ultimately, he said he didn’t encounter any of the four board members.

(credit: Jefferson County)

“They have yet to produce a shred of actual data, scientific evidence that face coverings do anything to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Morrill. “We’re busy masking up our children when the Broncos are playing with 70,000 people screaming in their faces and nobody bats an eye, but kids are going to school with face masks on. It doesn’t make sense.”

Schooley, who was elected to the board in 2019, said she was shaken by Morrill’s approach.

“It sowed a seed of fear in me. I’m not sure who in my community may be a threat,” she said. “When individuals feel entitled to encroach on my family’s space and bring their grievances into my home, that is where I draw the line.”

“So I’m sorry if she feels threatened that I sent an entirely innocent letter,” said Morrill. “But Jeffco children, they are the ones who are really threatened.”

Michael Teague, a spokesperson for the District Attorney in the 1st Judicial District, said, “Our office cannot ethically file charges for crimes that cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.”

He declined to discuss other factors that played into the non-filing decision.

The run-in between Morrill and school board members comes as the Justice Department is deploying law enforcement officials around the country to look into threats and harassment of educators. Attorney General Merrick Garland has directed the F.B.I and U.S. Attorneys offices to meet with local officials to respond to the threats which Garland said “are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values.”

The National School Boards Association sought federal protection after school board meetings were disrupted and board members were threatened.

Morrill, who has pulled his two children out of Jeffco schools and said he and his wife are homeschooling them, insists he did nothing illegal or wrong.

“I wasn’t ashamed, I didn’t have anything to hide,” he said.

Schooley views his actions differently.

“We have gotten to a place where we have lost any sort of moral compass about how we behave to one another as neighbors,” she said.

Brian Maass