Morning Meeting: An Online Investigation

Posted: Friday, January 21, 2011 at 10:39 am
By: Karen Sherman
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The arrest of an 18-year-old girl in De Smet is sparking a lot of conversation about taking on-line threats seriously. Let me fill you in on what led KELOLAND News to the story.
We first received a tip Wednesday morning about a possible investigation and arrest at the De Smet school over threats made on a Facebook profile. The caller gave us the name in question but calls to the school and Kingsbury County Sheriff could not confirm that information. When you look at the court papers, you see that’s because officials were also just learning about the threats.

On Thursday morning, KELOLAND News confirmed a student was arrested because of threats posted on a Facebook profile and Shawn Neisteadt headed to town to gather information. Even at that point, officials weren’t ready to release much information. It wasn’t until just before 5 PM that the state’s attorney released the name, age and charges against 18-year-old Melissa Kruger. And minutes later, court papers were filed and we were able to get copies faxed to us.

That’s where officials confirmed the threats were posted on the Facebook profile for Mark Ray Grey, though they say it belonged to Melissa Rae Kruger. That profile is not open to the public and was not the profile reported to KELOLAND News. The one the tip caller told us about also has disturbing comments about killing people and has messages from Mark Ray Grey, which Shawn brought to the superintendent’s attention. Today, Shawn is looking into just how those two pages are connected.

We’ve also received several comments from people on Thursday’s story, some of whom are from De Smet and are glad officials took the threats seriously. Honestly, as we did our own work back here at the station, it really raised questions about just how often teenagers deal with threatening messages. Katie Janssen is going to talk with students today to find out what kind of comments they’re dealing with these days.

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Dennis Rhodes says:

    An important story indeed and worthy of your in depth coverage. After seeing your relentless attitude toward uncovering the facts here I have to question how you decide which story to really go after or just report what you heard and walk away. A most recent story that comes to mind is your reporting of nude dancing in Lead.

    Overall your coverage was good on the Lead story but in both stories you reported statements by citizens (apparently anonymous in the second story) alleging an increase in murder, rape, vandalism and crime in general without questioning the validity of their statements. I did a little research on my own and I have come away with the conclusion that just about any event or activity that will draw a crowd can lead to an increase in crime in that area. That includes commerce of just about any kind whether it be a shopping mall or a sporting event. It has become obvious that certain types of activities like nude dancing, strip bars or bars in general always brings forth an increase in alarmist rhetoric and skewing of statistics for their own purposes by small conservative groups that try to appear as a majority. I would be interested in what research done by KELO reporters would turn up as far as refuting or agreeing with these claims about crime.

    In going beyond the specifics in the Lead story I would have to ask if KELO will be more diligent in the future when dealing with claims made by political candidates in the upcoming political races. I was really saddened by the “stand back and watch the fireworks” attitude in the recent Herseth / Noem race. Both candidates spewed contradicting “facts” about each other. I realize that they are representing themselves in this race but I had expected KELO and other news organizations to represent us (the people) by running a truth check on all of this rhetoric. I still to this day do not know who was lying about what. They can’t possibly both be right.

    A little checking up on what the truth is could go along way towards better journalism.

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