PARIS, IL. (ECWd) -
The reported (see WAND, WCIA and WTHI) incident of an individual showing up at the Edgar County Sheriff's Department trying to pass himself off as a Federal Agent has gotten much attention in the press lately, and we put together a timeline of events as we know them.
We believe there has been a systemic failure in how these types of threats, or actions are dealt with.
Most have yet to be reported:
EVENTS PRIOR TO THIS INCIDENT:
- In early 2017, I contacted the Edgar County Sheriff's Department about a local person leaving concerning messages on our facebook page and website. I was told something to the effect of: "he's just off his meds - nothing to worry about" (Hefner is not the person in this report)
- About Mid-to-late 2017, I contacted the Edgar County Sheriff's Department to report specific death threats against the ECWd, along with a fake website with threatening information on it, including the following language in hundreds of anonymous messages: "You're dead...We are coming to your next outing, it will be glorious...tomorrow is the day...we know where you live on RR1 in Paris...we are looking at and photographing your wives and children..." - the Sheriff's Department investigated it and asked the State's Attorney for a subpoena or search warrant to figure out who was sending the anonymous messages. The State's Attorney, stated there was not enough evidence and they were not equipped to investigate cyber crimes, and that I should contact the State Police about it. We contacted the ISP and provided them with the information, even though the person contacted said they couldn't help either. (We do not believe Hefner is this person)
TIMELINE OF THIS INCIDENT:
- Fall of 2017, we were informed that Mr. Justin Hefner, 40, of Terre Haute, arrived at an Edgar County resident's home apparently angry about the Edgar County Watchdogs, John Kraft and Kirk Allen, and their past reporting on certain events within the county. It was apparently explained to him at the time that the ECWd were not bad people. He left.
- January 2018, Hefner contacted the ECWd on their Facebook page and said he was wanting to "work together to bring down Edgar County" and also explained that he was previously in the military with the 1544th Transportation Unit based in Paris, Illinois. We ignored his request and never contacted him.
- The first 8 days in February 2018, Hefner called our "tipline" seven times without leaving a message. On his eighth call, he left a short message asking us to return his call. We ignored his request and never contacted him.
- Unknown to us, on February 9, 2018, Hefner arrived at the Paris Police Department in military "garb" claiming to be in the military and wanted assistance from the PPD to do a "welfare check" on a Paris resident. The PPD accompanied him to the residence and contacted the person at that residence. At no time did Hefner or the resident speak to each other. Shortly afterward, the PPD realized the neither Hefner nor the Paris resident were in the military and posted a notice warning other officers about Hefner at the police station.
- About 2 weeks ago, I notified Illinois State Senator Tom Cullerton's Office that I needed to talk with the Senator about threats directed toward him, left on our website. His clerk stated she would relay the message. They have yet to return my call or contact me in any way.
- Earlier this past week, Kirk and I filed a Motion for Discovery Prior to Lawsuit in Edgar County Circuit Court in an effort to find out who was leaving the threatening messages and who was operating the offending website so that we could initiate a civil action against them. Since we can't take action without knowing who to name, this was a necessary step in light of the fact that our State's Attorney was either unwilling or unable to take any criminal action.
- On February 14, 2018, a No-Contact / Order of Protection was issued against Hefner, however, we believe it had not yet been served on him, otherwise, he would not have been able to retain custody of his firearms.
- On Friday, February 16, 2018, I decided to look at Hefner's "Constitutional Wounded Warrior's" Facebook page and became alarmed at what I was reading. It concerned me enough to call the Edgar County Clerk, August Griffin, and tell him about the comments and tell him to keep an eye out for him because it appeared he might eventually act on some of the things he was complaining about.
- Griffin immediately (Friday evening) contacted the Edgar County Sheriff and the Edgar County Board Chairman to inform them of what I had told him (Griffin).
- Saturday morning, February 17, 2018, is when Hefner showed up at the Edgar County Sheriff's Department asking for assistance in arresting people and saying he worked for the Department of Defense. Edgar County Sheriff's Deputies Smith and Burgin effectuated his arrest at that time on initial charges of false impersonation of a public official, unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful use of body armor.
- Sunday, his Bond was set at $20,000 with 10% to apply. He is still in the Edgar County Jail as of this publication.
The way I saw it, was that I had twice reported threatening information to local law enforcement, and both times it was ignored; by the Sheriff's Department (first time) and the State's Attorney (2nd time). I thought to notify someone else whose name was mentioned in the ranting and threatening posts would spur some type of action. That is why I notified the County Clerk instead of local law enforcement.
Hefner apparently had in his possession a rifle with a loaded 100-round magazine and several loaded 30-round magazines, scope, tripod for the rifle, 2 bulletproof vests, a BB gun pistol, 2 pair of handcuffs, a Woodland "OD Green" camo military Field Jacket, and other items that when taken as a whole appeared to be suspicious enough to cause alarm. He also had a notebook with names of people he wanted to "arrest" and copies of some of our online articles (click photos below to enlarge). We have never communicated with this individual in any capacity.
The Edgar County Sheriff's Press Release about the incident is (here).
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