A Chicago man is being held without bond after he was accused of mailing letters vowing to “rape, murder and destroy property” at Southern Illinois University, federal prosecutorsalleged in a criminal complaint unsealed Monday.
Derrick D. Burns, 21, faces multiple charges ofmailing the threats between 2012 and 2013 —all addressed to students and staff at the Carbondale school, as well as campus police and the FBI. Burns, who faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, is being held at the federal lockup in Chicago.
The mailed screeds, most of which were titled “The War on SIUC,” were intercepted by the U.S. Postal Service, according to court papers. It’s not clear if Burns was a student at SIU, but the criminal complaint mentions that the school had records and contact info for Burns.
In one September 2012 letter, Burns threatened to bomb three campus residential towers. The following month —in a letter signed “Terrorist of America” – Burns claimed he raped and murdered seven SIU students whose bodies he disposed of near campus, according to the criminal complaint. That same month he sent an additional letter, threatening to prey upon the campus dorms, killing 25 women and as many as 18 men.
“Just because Brush Towers were not bombed the first time doesn’t mean I’m not serious about attacking them,” Burns wrote, according to the complaint. He signed that letter “Terrorist for Alqaeda.”
In a December 2012 letter, the complaint states that Burns again threatened to bomb campus as well as use tear gas and commit arson.
Burns’ writings ceased for about eight months after the December 2012 letter. But they resumed again in August 2013, when he again threatened to plant bombs and murder students, the complaint states. He also threatened to poison people on campus with anthrax.
After October 2013, the letter writing ceased completely. But authorities recovered fingerprints from several of the letters.
Burns’ fingerprints weren’t tied to the letter-writing campaign until this month. In July, he phoned several anonymous and erroneous tips to authorities, claiming a guy named “Big Russ” was threatening to wreak havoc on campus, according to the complaint.
Authorities tracked the calls and requested an interview. Burns denied making the threats, but during the interview the feds hit him with a subpoena, requiring him to be fingerprinted. The fingerprints matched.