AP NEWS

Accused letter-writer admits sending derogatory missives

August 23, 2018

GENEVA – Anton L. Purkart, a Geneva man accused of sending anonymous hate mail to residents, confessed to police that he did it to hurt others as he had been hurt on social media, according to a 106-page police report released through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Purkart, 50, of the first block of South Andover Lane, was charged

July 13 with four counts of disorderly conduct, for knowingly sending derogatory statements to four people “in such an unreasonable manner as to alarm and disturb … and provoke a breach of the peace,” according to the charging documents.

Purkart’s hate mail targeted Hispanics, women and a gay man, all connected to various Facebook posts, records show. He also is suspected of writing similarly degrading letters to a teenager who was writing a column for the Kane County Chronicle in 2012 – sending letters to her school. The case was continued to Sept. 5.

On July 12, Purkart and his attorney met with police and he confessed, the report stated.

“Purkart admitted to sending the letters to multiple subjects and stated it was ‘really bad judgment’ on his part,” the police report stated. “Purkart advised that he acted alone and did not have any racist ideologies, was not part of any racist groups and did not have any anti-gay ideologies. Purkart did not have any reason for targeting the victims. [Redacted] Purkart claimed to not know any of these individuals in person and advised he would not recognize them face-to-face.

“Purkart selected them at random from Facebook and looked up their addresses via whitepages.com. None of the victims from this incident did anything to provoke Purkart; he was just looking for other people to hurt,” the report stated.

“Purkart could not recall the addresses where he sent the letters but believed he sent a couple to Geneva residents, one to a St. Charles resident and the ‘others’ he could not recall,” the report stated.

However, some recipients of the letters said they were Purkart’s neighbors.

A Facebook ‘squabble’

As a stay-at-home dad, Purkart turned to Facebook as an alternative for interacting with other adults in the community.

He referred to a Facebook incident as a “squabble.”

“According to Purkart, his comments in the Facebook community were continually shot down, and he felt he was being attacked by his peers. Purkart advised, when another Facebook user (name not obtained) wanted the city of Geneva to have more parades, he responded by writing he thought there were enough parades. The Facebook user accused Purkart of being an online bully and other users criticized Purkart for his opinion,” the report stated.

“On another occasion, Purkart posted a comment about how Geneva has approximately [10] Mexican restaurants and he wished half of them would shut down to make room for more variety of restaurants. Purkart advised he lived in Chicago, Illinois, for a period of time and missed the diversity in restaurants near his residence there. Purkart was again criticized for his comments online and called a ‘racist,’ ‘biggot’ (sic) and told to ‘go back to Germany, Nazi,’” the report stated.

“Purkart saw a conversation on Facebook about ICE activities in St. Charles and thought it was a ‘hot button issue’ and thought ‘maybe I can trigger someone like they triggered me,’ ” the report stated.

“Purkart advised his intention was ‘to get under someone else’s skin like they got under mine.’ Purkart again advised he is not a racist or anti-gay, he was just using those statements to hurt other people,’” the report stated.

Purkart said he was ashamed of his behavior; Purkart further stated the letter to [redacted] was in ‘horrible taste’ and he was desirous of apologizing to [redacted],” the report stated.

Purkart has not been on Facebook and gave control of his account to his attorney, Matthew Haiduk, the report stated.

“Purkart apologized for the time I [the officer] spent investigating this case and for the hurt he caused [redacted],” the report stated. “Purkart further stated he believed this incident was a wake-up call for him to deal with the ‘baggage’ and anger he has been experiencing.”

A teenage newspaper columnist

The police report also includes details of a similar letters sent to a 16-year-old Geneva High School student, at the time a student news columnist for the Kane County Chronicle. The letters were sent to her school and to the Kane County Chronicle in August 2012.

At the time of the incident, the dean at the school had intercepted the letter – mailed to the student at the school address, and which referred to the teen by a derogatory and vulgar name – and turned it over to police, the report stated. The missive included a copy of the student’s column in the Chronicle and a message in all capital letters: “Please stop writing! Your inane columns are a disgrace to GHS & to our town,” the report stated.

Her parents and employers did not provide her with copies because of their vulgar language, the report stated.

When police spoke to the student, she told police she had received similar letters at the Chronicle, which were reported to St. Charles police, “that were not overtly threatening in nature, but expressed their displeasure for her writing,” the report stated. Police helped get her parking spot at the high school moved closer to the building, the report stated.

Geneva police obtained copies of the letters from St. Charles police, the report stated.

“Those letters appear to be from the same sender as the handwriting looks to be the same as the letter sent in this incident,” the report stated.

On Oct. 3, 2012, a Geneva High School dean reported another anonymous letter was sent to the chairman of the English Department, which contained a photocopy of an article by then-publisher of the Chronicle, J. Tom Shaw. Also in the envelope was a letter critical of the teen writer, typed on a computer in a large font, the report stated.

Nearly six years later, on Aug. 3, 2018, upon seeing an article in the Chronicle about Purkhart’s recent arrest, the former columnist called police regarding the letters she had received in 2012, as did a man who said his wife received a similar letter on Jan. 1, 2017, which was reported to the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

The report to the sheriff’s office, released through a Freedom of Information Act request, involved a woman who posted a question on Facebook of where to buy bathing suit.

As with some of the other letters connected to the charges against Purkart, a screen shot was taken of the posting, it was printed out and sent with a handwritten note in a thank-you card.

The note urged the woman to “beat yourself in the head with a ball peen hammer” and to give her children and husband “a few hits too. … Our town needs fewer morons like you. Please leave!!!”

A Geneva woman received a letter last October with a similar sentiment, also in response to a Facebook post about spiders at the train station.

In an email, Geneva Police Cmdr. Julie Nash wrote that charges in two more cases connected to Purkart are under review with the Kane County States Attorney.

AP RADIO
Update hourly