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Teacher charged with making false threats at her school says, 'not true' in court

Posted at 4:49 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 18:19:22-05

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. (WXYZ) — Fifty-nine-year-old Johnna Rhone was an art teacher at Jefferson Middle School in St. Clair Shores for 21 years.

On Friday, police and school officials say she was found placing three hand-written notes under the doors of a classroom, the library and the media center, and the incidents are on surveillance video.

Rhone is charged with making a false threat of terrorism, which is a 20-year felony.

The classes were not canceled. Police sources say a search of her house found no guns or weapons.

In court as the evidence was told to the judge, Rhone was on a video connection from inside the St. Clair Shores Police Department lockup and said, “not true, not true, not true.”

Since the shooting at Oxford three weeks ago, almost a hundred kids in metro Detroit have been charged with making copycat threats. This is the first adult — a teacher.

“Somebody either cried out for help. Somebody who's maybe desperate. Somebody wants a day off. But I don't have a crystal ball to give you an exact answer as to why some adult who's in supervision and control of our children in the classroom would even think about doing something like this,” Macomb County Prosecutor Pete Lucido told reporters.

Lucdio read one of the notes: “Start break early. He's gonna do it. Just don't be in the hall after lunch. Boom, get it?”

Defense Attorney Andrew Leone told the judge, Rhone has no criminal record and is pleading not guilty. Rhone has been issued bond at 10% of $75,000, house arrest with a GPS tether and psychological testing. Rhone can’t have any contact with anyone at the school.

“She seems shocked,” Leona told reporters outside of court his client. “Well first of all, I'd like to see it. We haven't seen it. So no, we have not spoken about the facts of the case when it comes to that, she's made a blanket denial.”

Lucdio says there are three different notes and would not discuss the other two. He’s only issuing one charge.

Could this be a misunderstanding?

Lucido says, “I can't answer that question. Only she can and show us how it’s a misunderstanding.” Leona said. “I don't know. I don't want to give it until I get an opinion myself of it once I see it.”

Police say Rhone did not cooperate with them after being arrested and did not give a statement.

If she gets out on bond, she is not to have any contact with anyone from Jefferson Middle School.