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2nd student accused of slaying plot
Son of leader of police union in Boston faces charges
By Kathleen Burge and Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff | October 19, 2004

MARSHFIELD -- Police arrested a second student yesterday, Joseph T. Nee, 18, on charges of plotting a deadly attack on Marshfield High School modeled after the Columbine massacre.

Nee, a senior, was one of the original tipsters who alerted police to the alleged plan, which police said included a scheme to kill eight named students, teachers, and administrators, possibly on the April anniversary of Columbine. Nee is the son of Thomas J. Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, the city's largest police union.

Last month, police arrested a 16-year-old junior, identified by his father as Tobin Kerns, on charges of planning the attack. In a written statement released by his father, Kerns denied participating, arguing that his former friend, Joe Nee, was the mastermind.

Early yesterday morning, Nee was handcuffed and escorted from school by police. At his arraignment in Plymouth District Court, he pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mass murder and one court of promoting anarchy. Nee was ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing Thursday and was taken to Plymouth County Jail.

Assistant District Attorney John P. McLaughlin told the judge that ''the physical evidence is strong" in the case.

Eric Goldman, Nee's lawyer, said there was no physical evidence linking his client to the alleged plot. Nee went to police in September, he said, because he feared Kerns would take the plan ''to the next level."

''Mr. Nee is certainly guilty of being a distraught teenager," Goldman said. ''He is guilty of making inappropriate comments, but he was the informant."

Authorities arrested Kerns a month ago after Nee and two other students came forward to reveal the alleged plot. Two weeks ago, when Marshfield police announced Kerns's arrest, they said they were confident Kerns was the ''primary mover" and that any other students involved were on the periphery of the plot. Yesterday, McLaughlin said that after Kerns's arrest, other students came forward to volunteer information to the police, convincing investigators that Nee had understated his role and was ''actively involved."

Yesterday, Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz declined to respond to questions about other possible arrests, saying only that the investigation continues.

In court, Nee wore a black T-shirt reading, ''I do all my own stunts," cargo pants, and black sneakers. Hands and feet shackled, he sat quietly, occasionally casting his eyes downward.

McLaughlin told Plymouth District Court Judge Thomas F. Brownell that last December, Nee and Kerns -- whose name the prosecutor never mentioned since Kerns is being tried in Juvenile Court -- formed a group called ''NBK," for Natural Born Killers. The group's goal was ''to protect those at the high school who were being picked on," McLaughlin said.

According to prosecutors, Kerns and Nee subsequently became fascinated with the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, and Nee wrote a school report on the attack. One female student told police she was getting off the school bus last spring when Nee pulled what she believed was a black, .40-caliber handgun from his waistband and showed it to her, telling her ''how the school was going to be shot up," McLaughlin said.

He said another witness told police that Nee and Kerns brought him to a meeting under a bridge in the Humarock section of Marshfield, where they revealed their plan to attack the school and tried to recruit him to help them padlock some of the doors so people couldn't escape.

While at the bridge, the witness said, Nee pulled a list from his pocket containing the names of people they planned to kill. Nee and Kerns told the witness that they planned to have individuals armed with rifles on the rooftop of the school to thwart efforts by police and rescue personnel to respond to the attack, the prosecutor said.

In the application for Nee's arrest warrant, investigators alleged that he was involved ''in target practice and making and detonation of pipe bombs, and knife and axe throwing."

Goldman, Nee's lawyer, argued that he was not a threat, noting that after Kerns's arrest he had been in school until yesterday without incident. Goldman urged the judge to release Nee on bail. Goldman also said Nee did not have a gun. Investigators' reports on the gun conflicted, he said, noting that a police report called it a BB gun.

After Nee was taken away, his father turned to Goldman in the hallway outside the courtroom and said, ''Tell him I love him."

Kerns, who is being held without bail for 90 days after being found a danger to the community at a Sept. 30 hearing, has been charged in Juvenile Court with eight counts of threatening to commit a crime, two counts of promoting anarchy, and one count of attempt to commit a murder. Kerns's father, Ben Kerns, said he testified Friday before a grand jury that is hearing evidence in the case. Ben Kerns has said his son is not guilty of the charges.

Under state law, authorities initially must charge a 16-year-old as a juvenile before a suspect can be rearraigned as a youthful offender.

Students at Marshfield High School learned that a second student had been arrested yesterday morning when the principal, Robert Keuther, made an announcement over the school's public-address system. Keuther didn't name Nee, saying only that an 18-year-old student had been arrested.

But word quickly spread that Nee was the latest suspect charged. Some students, saying they had heard rumors of Nee's involvement in the alleged plot, were not surprised.

''Everyone knew it was going to happen," said Molly Benoit, a senior. ''People have been freaking out. Everyone's been talking about it. Some people didn't want to be in classes with Joe."


Some students wondered why Nee hadn't been arrested earlier.

''Personally, I'm glad Joe's gone from here," said Kyle Carlson, a 16-year-old junior who said he had crossed paths with Nee a number of times.

''And if you knew Toby [Kerns], and I do, you'd know he wasn't capable of anything like blowing up the school."

Marshfield's school superintendent, Thomas Kelley, informed parents of the school's nearly 1,300 students of the arrest.

''We are paying close attention to students' needs," he said later in an interview. ''The important thing is that the school is safe and continues to be safe."

In his written statement after his arrest, Toby Kerns said Joe Nee was the instigator of the plot. In the statement, provided to the Globe by Kerns's father, Toby Kerns said Nee first told him in December 2003 that he planned to ''blow up the school and at the same time execute many of the students."

What prompted the friendship between the two teenagers to rupture was unclear yesterday. Authorities did not offer a theory, and the teenagers' fathers and their friends offered conflicting versions.

Yesterday, Thomas Nee said he did not believe his son had participated in the plot. He also said it was unfair that his son was being accused because he came forward and told police of the plan.

''I am awfully proud of my son for coming forward," Nee said, his voice cracking with emotion, and added that he was concerned the arrest would send the wrong message to other teenagers who might consider cooperating with authorities.

Nee, who said his son has no criminal record or disciplinary record at school, said he didn't know about the alleged plot or his son's plan to go to authorities until after Joseph Nee had met with police.

Yesterday, Ben Kerns expressed condolences for the Nees, saying, ''I would not wish the tragedy that this represents on any family." But, he said, Nee's arrest was a ''positive development" in his son's case.

Toby Kerns is being held in a youth detention facility in Taunton. His father hadn't talked to him yesterday, but had told him recently that he suspected Joe Nee would be arrested soon.

''He wasn't elated," Ben Kerns said. ''We're not malicious people. He thinks the truth is going to come out, and he's happy for that."

Yesterday, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who clashed bitterly with Nee over a two-year contract dispute that was settled this summer, expressed sympathy for his former adversary.

''It's unfortunate," Menino said. ''I support Tommy Nee. Anything I can do to help him I'll do."

Matt Carroll, Suzanne Smalley, Emily Sweeney, and Patricia Wen of the Globe staff contributed to this report, along with Globe correspondent Bob Carroll.Kathleen Burge can be reached at [email protected].

© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

4,210 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm down in NYC working right now and on the news they keep point out his father and how he's a cops kid and how if an officers son can do that what kind of parent is he...blah blah blah. They're making the father look like a horrible guy...I don't know him but I'm sure many of you do.

I'm sorry this happened to him. It can't be easy.

Czar of Cyncism and Satire
2,070 Posts
Yup, it went national, saw it on Fox news. The man has 9 children. Cut him a break will ya? If this kid's dad was Joe the plumber or Tim the mailman, I am sure there wouldn't be such a fuss around it.

As I have said before, there are 3 sides to every story. What he said, what she said, and what actually happened. Too bad the Boston media is blowing this way out of proportion. Must have been another slow news day.

Subscribing Member
633 Posts
News Break

10/18/2004 15:38:57 EST

Mass. Police Union Boss's Son Arrested
Associated Press Writer
PLYMOUTH, Mass. - A high school student whose tip about a planned Columbine-style massacre landed his friend in jail was arrested Monday and charged with being a conspirator in the plot.

Joseph T. Nee, 18, a senior at Marshfield High School whose father heads the main Boston police union, pleaded innocent to conspiracy to commit mass murder and promotion of anarchy. He was ordered held without bail pending a hearing Thursday.

Nee's tip to police had led to the Sept. 17 arrest of his friend, 16-year-old Tobin Kerns.

Acting on information from Nee and two other unnamed witnesses, police said they uncovered evidence of a plan to carry out an attack that would coincide with the sixth anniversary of the Columbine shootings and that students, teachers, police officers and firefighters were identified as targets.

Further investigation revealed that Nee was part of the plot and that he understated his role when he contacted police, prosecutor John McLaughlin said.

"There is physical evidence here of more than just a high school kid looking to get back at the people who tormented him," McLaughlin said.

Nee's attorney, Eric Goldman, said there is no evidence linking him to the plot.

"Mr. Nee is certainly guilty of being a distraught teenager ... but he was the informant," Goldman said.

Outside court, a tearful Thomas Nee said he was "embarrassed by the allegations," but proud of his son for coming forward.

"I don't care what kids talk about, as long as they don't act it out," said Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association. "I'm just thankful for one thing, that there's been no tragedy, there's been nobody hurt."

According to court documents, Nee had told a friend he knew how to make a Napalm-like explosive. A search of the woods near Kerns' home found evidence that an explosive had been detonated there, police said.

Investigators said they also recovered diagrams of the school, including plans for which exits should be padlocked to prevent escape.

Kerns has pleaded innocent to promotion of anarchy and attempted murder, and is being held without bail. His father has said he was framed by Nee following a dispute over a girl. The two boys were part of a group of four students who called themselves NBK, for "Natural Born Killers," after the movie about a couple who go on a killing spree.

During the Columbine attack on April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed a teacher and 12 of their classmates, then killed themselves.

4,172 Posts
Not to downplay cops getting the dirty end of the stick from the media, but if this was a teacher's or fire fighter's kid, the parental occupation would have attracted the same attention. My dad was a teacher and we lived in a very small town: pop. 5000. Everyone knew who are family was, as we'd lived there about 200 years. Rule 1 at our house was do not disgrace the family name (rule 2 was that dinner table conversation to stayed at the dinner table and was not discussed with outsiders).

Imagine the father-son 'discussion' that is happening in the Nee family now...

Senior Member
1,334 Posts
DCS, I agree with and like Rule #1..."do not disgrace the family name". Maybe more kids should be taught like that. I come from an average family, all of my grandparents are/were involved in town in some positive way and we knew if we got in trouble in school or out in town we would not only embarrass parents, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc... Its a good way of thinking and to keep kids in check, if they are not swayed too much by peer pressure. Having some respect for the family as a whole might just work for some teens. It must suk having a story go on the national news about your family, especially with the media and how negative they are towards the police.
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