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Man arrested for making obscene calls to school, library, newspaper

Posted: March 5, 2014 - 1:05am

A 23-year-old man was arrested Monday for making obscene phone calls to female employees at a Juneau elementary school, a public library and the Juneau Empire.

City prosecutors charged William T. Hitchens with multiple counts of misdemeanor harassment after a five-month police investigation that linked the three cases with phone records from communication providers.

City prosecutors said the caller targeted two specific female teachers at Riverbend Elementary School. The calls were of a sexual nature and came from a blocked number beginning in October and lasted until January.

Likewise, five female employees at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library reported being harassed in a similar manner by an adult male voice over the phone in December and January, prosecutors said in charging documents.

The calls to the Empire began in mid-January and targeted two specific female employees. One of the employees did not recognize the voice at first, but later had suspicions that it was her relative’s ex-boyfriend.

Police followed up on the lead and verified that the number was the relative’s phone number. The relative confirmed with police that her ex, Hitchens, used her phone.

Police said they contacted Hitchens last month at his apartment, and admitted to making the phone calls from his ex’s cellphone, according to an affidavit.

“He made calls frequently and only stopped about two weeks ago when he was contacted by Officer Hatch about the Riverbend School calls,” Assistant City and Borough Attorney Sherri Petticrew wrote in the affidavit.

Given the different time frames the calls started, two different police officers were originally investigating the case separately (with one working the school case, and another investigating the other library and Empire cases).

Investigating the school case, Sgt. Blain Hatch connected Hitchens to the phone calls in January by obtaining the phone records and finding possible numbers that matched the time and date of the calls. He asked school staff if they recognized either number, and staff said one belonged to the mother of a fifth-grader (the same relative of the Empire employee).

Through the relative, Hatch contacted Hitchens on Jan. 21, and Hitchens admitted making drunken phone calls to one of the teachers who taught his kid in class a few years ago, according to an affidavit. Hatch warned him not to contact the school again or he would be arrested.

In investigating the later library and Empire cases, Officer James Dooley also obtained Hitchens’ name and phone number as the suspect. Dooley realized it was connected to the earlier library case when he ran Hitchens’ phone number through the JPD database and found Hatch’s case.

Petticrew said Hitchens’ phone calls grew more “brazen and obscene” with each phone call. She requested a warrant to be issued for his arrest on Feb. 12. JPD located Hitchens on Monday and executed the warrant, records show.

Hitchens was arraigned in Juneau District Court the same day, and he is being held in jail on $1,500 bail. Online court records show he is slated to stand trial in May.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at emily.miller@juneauempire.com or at 523-2263.

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