Christy Appears In Federal Court In Ohio
Shawn Christy made his first federal court appearance Monday after roughly three months on the run.
He was wanted for alleged threats made online against police and two government officials, including the President of the United States.
Supervisory Deputy Anne Murphy of the United States Marshals Service in northern Ohio said it was a short hearing in Akron federal court, where Christy, 26, of McAdoo, was formally read his charges. The process of extraditing him back to the Pennsylvania Middle District where the case will be heard, also began, she said.
Cleveland.com reported that Christy only gave short answers when the judge questioned him. He attended the court proceeding in an orange and white jail jumpsuit and walked with a slight limp when escorted out of the courtroom by marshals after the hearing.
His next court appearances is scheduled in Ohio on Oct. 1. That appearance will involve an identity hearing and a detention hearing, during the latter of which, a federal judge will determine if he will remain in custody or be freed, she said.
For now, Christy remains in federal detention though the exact location of where he is being held isn’t being released to the public, Murphy said.
The identity hearing is a formality that will determine if the person sitting in court is indeed the person named in the indictment, she continued.
Christy allegedly posted threats early in June on his Facebook account directed to the Northampton County District Attorney, the president and police. “Keep it up (John M.) Morganelli, I promise I’ll put a bullet in your head as soon as I put one in the head of President Donald J. Trump,” read one post.
“Your (sic) a dead man...Lets (sic) play,” another threat in the four-count indictment read. The indictment states the target of that threat was a person only identified as “J.M.”
Those statements brought law enforcement to his home June 19 to take him into custody and when officers didn’t find him there, they embarked on what would turn into a 95-day manhunt that crossed into six states before ending Friday in Mifflin Twp., northern Ohio, in a stream bed where United States Marshals say he was hiding among rocks.
The Marshals Service was tasked with apprehending Christy, stating early on that they wouldn’t rest until Christy was safely taken into custody. Multiple times, they asked for his peaceful surrender and encouraged his friends and family to ask him to do the same.
Christy is accused of committing burglaries and thefts while at large and is also wanted in Pennsylvania for a probation violation and for failure to appear in court for an aggravated assault case. However, he will answer the federal threat charges before any other case, according to Deputy Robert Clark, supervisor of the U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force in Philadelphia.
Marshals, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service and other law enforcement officers began their search for Christy within the woods and buildings near his home at 23 Rear S. Harrison St., in McAdoo and Kline Twp., both in Schuylkill County. Among the properties searched was a roughly 400-acre stretch of woods in Kline Twp., used for recreation locally and called the No. 8 Reservoir.
The search for him by law enforcement through hot, humid weather and during drenching rain storms endured through various places in Pennsylvania, as well as New York, West Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland and Ohio. It involved hundreds of law enforcement officers searching from the air with helicopters and by ground using foot searches, all-terrain vehicles and automobiles.
The search intensified July 25 after Christy broke into his uncle’s home in Butler Twp. and stole guns, because the man once considered armed and dangerous now certainly was armed.
President Donald Trump did come to Pennsylvania on Aug. 2 as the search was underway in another state. He spoke at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre Twp. to support U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta’s Senate campaign. The arena is about 30 miles north of Christy’s home via Interstate 81.
Marshals and the FBI offered a combined $20,000 reward for information leading to Christy’s capture. Though many tips and reports of sightings were forwarded to law enforcement since the search began, no one claimed the money, Clark said.
Ohio law enforcement began searching for Christy during the last leg of the manhunt after a truck he allegedly stole from Skitco Iron Works in Hazle Twp., early on the morning Sept. 16 was found crashed along the roadside of Interstate 71 near Mansfield, Ohio, later that evening.
He was taken into custody peacefully, according to police.
Christy was evaluated by an ambulance crew at the scene and — when medically cleared — was taken away by law enforcement.
Murphy said Ohio officials were thankful their six-day search for Christy came to a “peaceful” end.
According to marshals, the Ohio search that began Sept. 16 involved more than 200 officers from almost 20 local, county, state and federal agencies in the Richland County area. Law enforcement set up perimeters in areas where possible sightings of Christy were reported and search teams combed through those locales, finding items and makeshift camps believed to be used by Christy while he was hiding.
A fresh campsite with Christy’s belongings was found Friday afternoon and a nearly 140-member search team involving multiple law enforcement groups was sent to that area and a perimeter was set up.
It was inside that perimeter that Christy was found by the multi-agency search team with a loaded .380 firearm and a large knife. The FBI is investigating possible federal firearms violations and charges may be pending.
Among the Ohio search team members were federal, state and local officers to include sheriff’s, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Sheriff’s Department bloodhound dog handler; Columbus, Ohio, Police Department Aviation Unit and U.S. Border Patrol.
Contact the writer:
The timeline, according to law enforcement:
■ June 3-12: Christy allegedly posts threats on social media directed to the Northampton County District Attorney, the president and police. “Keep it up (John M.) Morganelli, I promise I’ll put a bullet in your head as soon as I put one in the head of President Donald J. Trump.”
■ June 19: Charges are filed against Christy in response to those threats. Law enforcement showed up at his home to take him into custody that day and when they couldn’t find him in the residence, took to searching woods and buildings in and around McAdoo and Kline Twp. in Schuylkill County.
■ July 10: Christy is indicted by a federal grand jury for threatening Trump and police in social media posts. Locally, he is charged with burglary by state police for allegedly stealing a vehicle from his former employer, Hazleton Oil and Environmental in Audenried on July 7. The vehicle was found July 8 in Constable, New York, about 100 yards from the Canadian border. Marshals said he then stole a vehicle in Fort Covington, New York, about 10 miles away from Constable, and abandoned it after it overheated on Interstate 81.
■ July 17: Federal, state and local law enforcement search woods behind the Scranton School for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children in Clarks Green, Lackawanna County, after video surveillance from four days earlier shows someone who “strongly resembles” Christy breaking into the school and stealing food. He was not found.
■ July 25: Christy is accused of breaking into his uncle’s home in Butler Twp., allegedly taking weapons and leaving notes for his mother.
■ July 29: Christy reportedly steals a van from a school bus company in Butler Twp. Surveillance footage from a Sheetz in Allegheny County the next morning show Shawn Christy at the sales counter.
■ Aug. 2: Authorities find the stolen school van in Nitro, West Virginia, about 460 miles from Butler Twp. Later in the day, a vehicle is stolen in Poca, West Virginia, with Christy as the suspect in that crime. That vehicle is later found in Greensburg, Kentucky.
■ Aug. 9: The saga of Shawn Christy again overlaps with Sarah Palin. He is seen on surveillance video breaking into a home of Palin’s former son-in-law in Greensburg, Kentucky. Christy is suspected of stealing a 2001 Jeep with U.S. Postal Service markings from there. The Jeep would later be found in Nitro, West Virginia.
■ Aug. 19: The Allegheny County (Maryland) Sheriff’s Office fields a call from a resident about a suspicious man in a tan shirt and blue jeans, sleeping in a vehicle. He fled and was unable to be located, but marshals responded and positively identify the sleeping man as Christy.
■ Aug. 20: A business owner in Cumberland, Maryland, reports a 1997 GMC Sierra pickup truck with a Pennsylvania license plate was stolen. Christy is considered a suspect in that vehicle theft.
■ Aug. 21: The truck reported stolen in Maryland is found in Tidewood East Industrial Park in Hometown, Rush Twp., around 7:30 a.m.
■ Aug. 23: A man fitting the description of Shawn Christy breaks into a home on Ben Titus Road in Packer Twp., Carbon County. The man fled the home and went into a wooded area. The burglary victim told police that the man told him he was homeless and was looking for food, police said.
■ Aug. 24: Shawn Christy is identified as the man who broke into Skipper Dippers, Rush Twp. The break-in is captured on video surveillance at the restaurant. Christy pushed in an air conditioning unit in a window to get inside, helped himself to a variety of food and took off.
■ Aug. 29: Law enforcement searches the area of Skipper Dippers in Rush Twp. again after an employee reported seeing Shawn Christy around the business’ dumpster. The individual ran off when spotted, and authorities could not confirm the man was Christy.
■ Sept. 5: An early morning burglary was determined to be committed by Shawn Christy. Authorities believe Christy took about $300, food such as cookies and chips, a shotgun and a box of ammunition, and small tools from Skitco Iron Works, Hazle Twp.
■ Sept. 13: An unidentified man entered an unlocked office at Haulmark Industries Inc., Banks Twp. The man, not immediately confirmed as Christy, took $20, a black skull cap and also smashed the glass on a vending machine, which he stole several candy bars from before fleeing on foot.
■ Sept. 14: Reports surface that Shawn Christy may have injured his knee during his flight. “I think I shattered my knee during a MD (Maryland) getaway, so I’ve been slowed down a bit,” he said in the message posted on Facebook. “Stay safe, I have a mission to complete.” The injury may have occurred in mid-August.
■ Sept. 16: A vehicle stolen from a Hazle Twp. business crashed on an Ohio road. A white GMC heavy-duty utility truck involved in the one-vehicle wreck was stolen from Skitco Iron Works around 12:30 a.m. By 4:45 p.m., it went off Interstate 71 in Mansfield, Ohio. Law enforcement officials confirmed the vehicle was the one stolen from Skitco and believe Christy was driving it.
■ Sept. 17: Schools in the Mansfield, Ohio, area close due to the search for Christy.
■ Sept. 18: Mansfield, Ohio, schools close again while authorities search for Shawn Christy.
■ Sept. 19: Bounty hunter and television personality Duane “Dog” Chapman is reportedly retained by a friend of the Christy family to find the fugitive and get him to surrender.
■ Sept. 21: Shawn Christy is captured shortly after 4:30 p.m. in a densely wooded area in Mifflin Twp., Richland County, Ohio. U.S. Marshals say he had a knife and a .380 handgun in his possession. Christy is taken to a hospital for examination, then will be held in Ohio on a number of arrest warrants.
■ Sept. 24: Christy makes his initial court appearance before a U.S. Federal District Magistrate in the Northern District of Ohio.
■ Oct. 1: Christy is expected to make his next court appearance in Ohio. Scheduled are an identity hearing and a detention hearing.
CHRISTY THROUGH THE YEARS
■ Sept. 27: A temporary, 20-day protection from abuse order is filed in district court in Anchorage, Alaska, against Shawn R. Christy, 18, of McAdoo, alleging that he stalked and threatened former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and her friend, Kristan Cole, via phone and email since the summer of 2009. The issue came before the court once Palin and Cole believed Christy was in Alaska and intended to harm them.
■ Oct. 11: A judge in Anchorage grants a six-month protection from abuse order. It prohibits Christy from being within one mile of Palin or Cole and their families, and from several locations in Alaska.
■ Dec. 29: Christy files a motion in an Alaska court requesting to have the protection from abuse order revoked or dissolved. A similar request filed Dec. 6 was denied Dec. 21.
■ May 5: An Alaska court extends a restraining order against Christy for six more months after Palin testifies by phone that she feared for the safety of herself, her family and friends. Palin said she believed Christy was sending out a clear signal when he made a one-day visit to Alaska on her birthday in February. She also said she feared Christy’s parents because of their contention that she had a sexting relationship with their son in 2009.
■ Aug. 18: Christy and his father, Craig Christy, are arrested in Allentown on federal charges for allegedly making hundreds of harassing phone calls to the offices of Palin’s attorney.
■ Jan. 23: Shawn Christy and his father, Craig, plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Anchorage to one count each of making harassing telephone calls to Palin’s attorneys.
■ June 8: Shawn and Craig Christy are sentenced to time served plus five years’ probation for harassing Palin’s attorneys. During the court proceeding, Shawn Christy called the judge’s order that he live up to six months in a Pennsylvania community re-entry program “ridiculous.”
■ Nov. 28: Christy is taken into custody at his McAdoo home by U.S. Marshals on a charge of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers and prisoners in custody of an institution or officer. He is accused of verbally abusing a worker at the Scranton Catholic Charity Center eight days earlier after a search of his backpack uncovered contraband, a soda and a cellphone. He then allegedly ran into his room, kicked a hole in the wall and left without permission. Christy’s father said he left the halfway house after receiving more than 300 bedbug bites.
■ March 20: Christy is sentenced to two years in prison for violating his probation in November 2012.
■ June 29: Christy is taken into custody on a parole violation after he is accused of harassing a teacher and an administrator at McCann School of Business and Technology in Hazle Twp., where he was a student.
■ July 1: Christy pleads guilty in U.S. District Court, Williamsport, to violating parole and is sentenced to nine months in prison.
■ Sept. 20: Christy pleads guilty to two summary counts of harassment and is ordered to 10 days incarceration, to be served concurrently with his federal prison term for a parole violation.
■ March 15: Christy is charged with four felony counts of aggravated assault and two misdemeanors for simple assault after police say he swung a “large” stick at McAdoo Mayor Stephan Holly following an argument about snow removal.
■ Oct. 20: Christy and his father are charged with harassment for numerous telephone calls to McAdoo and Kline Twp. police regarding the assault case pending against Shawn Christy.