GREENSBURG, Pa. – Most people lose an hour's sleep when clocks spring forward for daylight-saving time. One western Pennsylvania teen lost 12 days of freedom.
Cody Webb, 15, says he was wrongly charged with phoning in a bomb threat to his high school last month because the school district didn't reset a clock on a phone system, something police overlooked during their investigation.
Webb spent 12 days in the Westmoreland County Juvenile Detention Center before a judge dismissed the charges.
Webb, an honors student active in student council, tennis and the Japanese Club at Hempfield Area High School, had never even been given detention, his mother, Linda, told the Tribune-Review of Greensburg for a story Wednesday.
"It was a nightmare," she said.
Webb called a school district hot line to listen to a recorded message about school delays at 3:12 a.m. EDT on March 11, according to his cell phone records.
The next day, school officials found the hot line had recorded a bomb threat from a blocked phone number at 3:17 a.m.
School officials concluded Webb had made the threat because they also found a record of his phone call, his attorney Tim Andrews said.
The school's recorder, however, was still on Eastern Standard Time, meaning the bomb threat really came in at 4:17 a.m. daylight time, more than an hour after Webb's call, Andrews said.
When the principal asked Webb for his cell phone number later that morning and said, "We got him. We got him," Webb did not immediately realize what she meant. When Webb refused to confess, he was arrested on a felony charge of threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and related misdemeanor counts.
He was detained for a total of 12 days, until a judge released him when a state trooper failed to show up at another hearing.
A few days later, on March 27, the judge dismissed the charges.
"The district attorney subpoenaed the cell phone records, and it didn't take more than a minute to see the times didn't match," Andrews said.
Hempfield Area School District solicitor Dennis Slyman said police investigating the bomb threat never asked school officials about when the clocks were reset.
"Whatever they did was with their own investigation and outside the auspices of the school district," Slyman said.
Trooper Jeanne Martin, a state police spokeswoman, did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday. Martin told the newspaper that the time change was an issue in the charges being dropped and said the bomb threat investigation was continuing.
Andrews said the boy's family is considering a lawsuit against the school district or police for false arrest.
"I wasn't going to admit to something I didn't do," Webb said. "Me and God know I didn't do it."