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Man arrested after allegedly posing as student at Moab schools

A 19-year-old man who allegedly tried to register with the Grand County School District as a 15-year-old was arrested on Thursday.

A 19-year-old man who allegedly tried to register with the Grand County School District as a 15-year-old was arrested on Thursday. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

MOAB — A man who allegedly tried posing as a student, walked into a classroom and attended class, and then followed two students home and went into their house was arrested on Thursday.

The 19-year-old was booked into the Grand County Jail for investigation of trespassing and trespassing on school property.

On Thursday, the Grand County School District posted a message on their Facebook page stating "a 19-year-old male attempted to pose as a student at both the middle school and high school this week. He attempted to register himself as a 15-year-old student to attend Grand County schools."

According to a police booking affidavit, police and school administrators have had interactions with the man since Sunday.

On Sunday, "law enforcement was contacted regarding (the man)," according to a police booking affidavit. The affidavit does not give any other details about why police were called. Officers got a hotel room for the man that night and his "mother had come to take responsibility for him" on Monday, according to the affidavit.

On Tuesday, the man "was at a school unlawfully and asked to leave. When law enforcement arrived, he was taken to the hospital and checked in for a mental evaluation," the affidavit states.

The school district released additional information on Friday, stating that the man, who "could easily pass as 14" had entered Grand County High School on Tuesday before school started and went into the library.

"He mingled there with other students and left through the front doors before school started. Then, at 8:35 a.m. he re-entered the high school office with two other students. The attendance secretary didn't recognize him and asked him if he was a student. He said he was. She asked his name and he gave it. At that point one of the other students said that he wasn't a student at (the school). The high school counselor spoke to the young man and the young man left," according to a prepared statement from the school district.

After leaving the high school, the man walked to Margaret L. Hopkin Middle School in Moab and played on the playground equipment, the district stated.

"A staff member saw him and escorted him to the office. In the office he said he was hungry and the office staff fed him. The young man said he was 14 and would like to go to school there. The office staff thought he was a high school student so they called the high school and were told what had happened there earlier. The middle school principal then called the police and the police indicated they knew who the young man was," according to the district.

On Wednesday, the man again showed up at one of the schools and saw children running on a track during a gym class, the district stated.

"The PE teacher told him he couldn't stay with the class and asked him to leave," according to the district.

The man left. But he returned that afternoon to the high school and walked into a classroom as other students were entering. The teacher thought he was a new student, the district states.

"He stayed through that class and exited the high school at the end of school with the other students. The young man did not threaten any students during his visits to either school, however, he did follow two sisters home and threatened them at their home," according to the district.

One of those sisters told police that as she walked home from school and picked up her younger sister at the middle school, the man followed.

"As they walked, (the man) asked the (student) random questions that did not flow to the conversation ranging from video game play to how (the student's) day was," according to the affidavit.

When the two siblings arrived at home, they told the man that he was not welcome inside and that he needed to leave. The man then asked for a drink of water, which one of the siblings gave him, the affidavit states. The siblings then again told the man to leave and turned to go back inside their home.

"As the door closed, (the man) walked in the front door behind both victims and sat on their couch. As he remained inside the house, (one of the siblings) continued telling (the man) he was not welcomed and he needed to leave their house," according to the affidavit.

The siblings told police they were frightened of the man and did not want to upset him, so they did not "press the issue" of getting him to leave, the affidavit states. When they asked him his name, "he pointed at his wrist and showed a name tag from a recent hospital stay and told them (his name)," according to the affidavit.

When the siblings called their father, the man left the house. They believe he was in their home for about 45 minutes, the affidavit states.

The man later showed up where the older sibling works, asking for a job, according to the affidavit. He was told to leave but was "reluctant to vacate the premises," according to the affidavit.

On Thursday, after learning what had happened on Wednesday, the Grand County School District requested additional police patrols around their schools due to the man's recent behavior on school grounds, the affidavit states.

He was spotted Thursday at Moab Regional Hospital and detained by police for questioning. When asked about going into the house of two students and "why he continually went to the school, knowing he wasn't a student there, the man could not answer and said he did not know what they were talking about," the affidavit states.

The man was arrested after being questioned.

"Obviously (the school district) administration is concerned that a (man) was able to attend a high school class posing as a student. A staff meeting was held this morning before school to determine what went wrong and what needs to be done to ensure a similar situation doesn't happen again. The (district) leadership team and accreditation committees are identifying all processes and procedures that were lacking, changing them where appropriate, and then training all staff to ensure knowledge and compliance. (District) administration and staff will use this unfortunate situation to improve and be better, and ensure that nothing like this happens again," the school district stated Friday.

Moab police declined comment on Friday, stating it was still an ongoing investigation.


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