By David Heinzmann, The Chicago Tribune
Police used DNA testing of saliva from an envelope seal to identify a registered sex offender who is accused of sending letters last fall threatening to shoot South Side schoolchildren and others, police and FBI officials said Monday.
Milo Farris, 33, of the 11500 block of South Wentworth Avenue is accused of threatening to shoot children at Metcalfe Elementary School, 12339 S. Normal Ave., and West Pullman Elementary School, 11941 S. Parnell Ave., in mid-September.
He wrote at least eight letters, including others that threatened public officials and private citizens, FBI spokesman Ross Rice said. Rice declined to name any of the targets of the letters.
Police said Farris told them he wrote the letters in hopes of getting added police presence in his neighborhood. He lives within several blocks of the schools.
FBI violent crimes task forces, which includes FBI agents, Chicago police and Cook County sheriff's department officers, arrested Farris on Friday at his home. No guns were found in the home, authorities said.
He is charged with one count of using U.S. mail to send threatening or harassing communication. He is being held in lieu of bail and is scheduled to appear Wednesday before a U.S. magistrate judge.
"We're really thrilled," Chicago Public Schools spokesman Peter Cunningham said Monday. School officials notified police of the letters when they received the first one on Sept. 15, school officials said.
Police immediately heightened security around the schools. Children did not go outside for recess for several days, Cunningham said.
Outdoor recess resumed after a few days, he said.
"Once the letters stopped, our sense was that ... the threat was not as immediate," Cunningham said.
The principals sent letters to parents, but tried to keep the incident from gaining public attention for fear of encouraging the writer, Cunningham said.
Although none of the threats were carried out, Farris does have a violent past, according to court records.
He was convicted of aggravated battery of a police officer with a firearm in 1999, and was convicted of armed robbery and aggravated criminal sexual abuse in 1992.
In the 1999 case, he was arrested on a outstanding rape warrant while driving a cab in Blue Island. At the police station, he attacked the arresting officer, tore his holster from his belt, and then fought with two other officers, according to court records.
One of the officers sprayed him with pepper spray but Farris, who weighs about 350 pounds, broke free and ran through the police station before finally being subdued.
Court records did not reflect what became of the rape allegation, said Tom Stanton, a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office.