Belmont County Judge Revokes Probation for Martins Ferry Threat Suspect

SMITH

Thomas Smith, accused of sending threatening messages that resulted in a lockdown at Martins Ferry’s public schools, saw his probation revoked this week.

Now, Smith will be going back to prison for more than a year.

Smith, 35, of 207 N. Fifth St., Martins Ferry, saw his parole revoked and was returned to jail for two years, with credit for 267 days.

Smith is accused of making a threat via social media to pupils at Ayers Elementary School in Martins Ferry in early December. His parole was revoked due to the threat allegation and for associating with a known felon, according to information presented to Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra.

Smith was originally convicted of possession of drugs, a felony of the fourth degree, occurring Jan. 18, 2016.

Belmont County Public Defender Frank Pierce asked that the hearing be continued until after Smith’s preliminary hearing today at Belmont County Northern Division Court on the threat allegations.

Pierce said Smith was unaware that the individual he had associated with was a felon.

Sgt. Jerry Murphy with the Martins Ferry Police Department reviewed the alleged threats. He said a woman known to Smith brought the messages to the police department’s attention. Murphy said the woman was receiving messages via social media from a Facebook profile that was not Smith, and the messages had included threats to her children.

Murphy outlined the process of contacting Facebook and tracking down the source.

“Emails, IP addresses, cellphone number, all these were pointing to Mr. Smith,” Murphy said.

He added that Smith was interviewed and said he had not made the Facebook page and said his phone had been borrowed and possibly hacked the evening prior to the threats.

Under questioning from Pierce, Murphy said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations currently has Smith’s phone.

“The final word isn’t in yet as to whether there’s strong evidence my client was actually texting. You’re waiting for BCI to confirm that,” Pierce said. “The only way we can really be certain it was his fingers typing that is if somebody walking in and caught him.”

“Based on what he told us during questioning, he had his cellphone. He was the only one in possession of his cell phone during the time those messages were sent,” Murphy said.

Smith said he had made every effort to follow his parole obligations and denied making the threats.

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