The Chesterton man
accused of perpetrating a hostage hoax at Valparaiso University on April 22
appears to have been the victim of someone else’s hoax two days after the
On April 24,
Chesterton Police officers responded to the home of Michael Clemens, 20, in
the 800 block of West Porter Ave., after a call was made to the Porter
County Sheriff’s Police landline by someone calling himself “Michael.” That
person gave an address coinciding with Clemens’ own and then stated that “he
was feeling suicidal and wanted to hurt his mom and dad.”
subsequently determined that, whoever the caller really was, it couldn’t
have been Clemens.
That, according to
the investigating officer’s report.
The call in
question--no identification was made of the originating number--went to the
PCSP landline at approximately 9 p.m. and was then transferred to the CPD
dispatcher. Officers were still en route to the Clemens residence when one
of them recognized the address as that of the man who’d been charged in
connection with the VU hoax. That information he shared with the other
responders, who learned as they were arriving at the house that the caller
was still on the line with the dispatcher but that a second dispatcher had
succeeded in making contact with Clemens’ mother.
meanwhile, was telling the second dispatcher “that there was no problem” and
that everyone currently in the residence--her son included--would wait for
officers outside the house.
At that point
officers, from a position “a few houses down” from the Clemens residence,
observed four people walking out its front door. They were later identified
as Clemens, Clemens’ mother--who was seen to be talking on a phone--and two
of Clemens’ friends.
to make contact with the group and it was “while we were speaking with
them,” the investigating officer stated in his report, that the first
dispatcher advised that the supposedly suicidal “caller had just hung up the
phone or disconnected.”
Clemens’ mother, on
being advised of the situation, “was very cooperative and understanding”;
told the officers that her son had been in the basement playing Scrabble
with his two friends, that “she could hear them laughing,” and that “there
didn’t seem to be any problems”; and gave the officers access to the house’s
landline phone and to her husband’s cell phone, which her son had “been
using since the VU incident.”
Also presented for
inspection to the officers: the cell phones belonging to Clemens’ two
None of the four
phones’ logs showed any call to a law enforcement agency.
officer then asked Clemens a series of questions. Had he made any calls to
the police? Clemens said he hadn’t. Was he feeling as though he wanted to
hurt himself or his parents? Clemens said he wasn’t. Did he want to speak
with a physician? Clemens said he didn’t.
“I advised Michael
as to why we were there and that we were obligated to ask such questions
because of the seriousness of the call we received,” the investigating
officer stated. “And he responded that someone has been setting him up and
he doesn’t know who it is. He also continued to say that he was innocent of
the things the newspaper said and that he didn’t do any of it.”
The CPD cleared the
scene after officers were unable to link any of the phones at the Clemens
residence to the call itself; but were able to observe Clemens in the flesh
while simultaneously someone purporting to be Clemens was talking to the
dispatcher. Clemens has been charged with intimidation and false informing.
He was taken into custody late in the evening of April 22, a few hours after
law enforcement determined that a reported hostage taking at the VU library
was a hoax. Investigators were initially tipped to Clemens by his cousin, a
Porter police officer, who identified him as a suspect from a tape of the
released from the Porter County Jail on a $1,000 cash bond the day after the
hoax--has pleaded not guilty to both charges.
His attorney, Gary
Germann, declined to comment on the April 24 incident at Clemens’ home. But
that incident does explain Germann’s motion to secure a court order
preserving two 911 calls, the first made on the day of the hoax itself, at
7:04 p.m. April 22; the second--and the one of interest here--made two days
later, at 9 p.m. April 24. Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford
granted Germann’s motion and ordered the recordings of those two calls
Trial has been set
for Nov. 9.