ELLSWORTH — Two boys initially arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit murder last week were released after appearing in court on March 8.
Police arrested the boys, a 14-year-old from Ellsworth and a 16-year-old from Brewer, on March 6 after being notified by officials from the Ellsworth School Department that there had been “threats of violence” made in a Facebook chat group, according to a press release from the Ellsworth Police Department.
The two were initially charged with conspiracy to commit murder, but the charges were later altered.
According to an updated press release issued Friday afternoon, the 14-year-old will be held under house arrest on suspicion of solicitation to commit murder and terrorizing charges. The 16-year-old has been released to his grandparents on a suspicion of terrorizing charge.
“Basically they [the District Attorney’s Office] decided that the other statute fit better,” said Ellsworth Police Capt. Troy Bires.
Hancock County District Attorney Matt Foster said of the original charges, “It was incorrect earlier.”
One of the boys was a student at Ellsworth High School, according to Superintendent Dan Higgins.
Higgins said in a letter to parents dated March 7 that “At no time were our student body, staff members or our facilities in danger, and there are no known threats against our student body, staff members or our facilities.”
Ellsworth detectives and staff from the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit investigated the threats the day they were reported. After consulting with the Hancock County District Attorney’s Office, they brought charges against the two boys.
The 14-year-old, according to the press release, is also on probation for an unrelated offense last year.
Both boys were initially transported to the juvenile correctional facility in Charleston following their arrest.
Bires said he could not comment further on the case because it is ongoing.
According to the press release, there may be additional charges filed.
Higgins said Friday that he appreciated the quick work of the school’s law enforcement partners on the case, adding: “Our primary interest above all else is the safety and well-being of our students and staff.”
It has been a difficult week for students at Ellsworth High School. On March 5, the day before the two boys were arrested, officers responded to a local residence around 1 a.m. for an “apparent suicide” of a 15-year-old boy who was reportedly a student at the school.
Bires said the two cases are unrelated and that the latter case was referred to the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit, “as is standard practice,” according to a press release.
“This appears to be an isolated incident and there is no threat to anyone else in the community.”
Crisis and grief counselors were on hand to assist students this week, police said.