Woman charged with making false accusation

Said husband threatened to shoot up Howland Middle School

HOWLAND — A woman who told police her husband made threats about shooting up Howland Middle School was arraigned in Warren Municipal Court Monday on charges of making false claims.

Vanessa Ackley, 40, 7720 Glen Oaks Drive, contacted the FBI and Howland Police Department stating that her estranged husband, Steven, had threatened to shoot up Howland Middle School and nothing was done about it.

She also made contact with numerous news organizations, including the Tribune Chronicle, about the threats.

An investigation of the claims led to Howland police filing the false alarm charge, to which she pleaded not guilty. She is scheduled to appear before Judge Thomas Gysegem on March 22 for a preliminary hearing, court records show.

Ackley sent hours of audio recordings of her husband to the Howland Police Department and others that she said would verify the immediate threats claim.

Howland Det. Sean Stephens noted in a police report that the department was contacted by the FBI on Feb. 20 about the threats.

Vanessa Ackley and her daughter previously had been granted civil protection orders from a Trumbull County magistrate based on information obtained from the recordings.

Vanessa Ackley, during a Feb 21. interview with the Howland Police Department, said she previously told them about threats by Steven Ackley on individual lives “… and a school shooting should have been assumed.”

Stephens noted that the only person that brought up a school shooting on the recordings was Vanessa, when she stated to him: “That is why you fantasize about school shootings, huh?”

Steven Ackley never directly acknowledged the comment, but stated some gangs shoot people during an initiation process, according to the police report.

When pushed by Stephens to find anything in the information she gave to the Howland police or any other organization that proved Steven Ackley was planning a school shooting, Vanessa could not provide it, according to a police report.

“Vanessa stated she has not seen Steven possess a firearm, except previously having a BB gun in the garage of their 7720 Glen Oaks address,” Stephens wrote.

In addition, according to the police report, Vanessa never saw Steven search the internet or write anything about planning a school shooting or any other shooting incident.

Steven Ackley, during an interview conducted the same day, denied all allegations he planned to shoot up Howland Middle School or any other school, according to the police report.

Stephens stated that Vanessa has initiated, circulated and reported false information stating that “a panel of of experts met in California, including an ex-judge, ex-homicide detective, and an investigative reporter … unanimously concluded that the Howland Middle School is in immediate danger of a school shooting.”

She stated in an email that the Howland Police Department and the FBI hid this threat for months, the police report stated.

Stephens stated the department maintained contact with school district and kept its leadership informed of the allegations.

Because of the amount of law enforcement services used from the FBI, Howland Police Department and Howland School Administration for these false allegations, Stephens filed the making false alarm charge, according to the police report.