NEOSHO, Mo. — A judge Tuesday dismissed a charge of making a terrorist threat that a former Newton County man had been facing for seven years in connection with a threat to kill his mother, which led to a lockdown of schools in Seneca.
Charles W. Leader, 34, who now resides in Colorado, was charged with the offense following remarks he purportedly made to a minister who was providing him with counseling in September 2013.
A probable-cause affidavit filed at the time alleged that he threatened to kill his mother, Grace A. Leader. The affidavit states that he also vowed to kill his uncle, other blood relatives, all the pallbearers at his father's funeral a few years prior and any law enforcement officers who tried to stop him.
A probable-cause affidavit filed at the time states that the Seneca School District was contacted about the threats because Grace Leader was a first grade teacher there, and the schools were locked down for three hours one afternoon. His mother's vehicle was removed from school property, and she was taken to safe location as a precaution.
The Newton County Sheriff's Department was contacted by the defendant's mother and uncle after they first went to Joplin police and the Stephens Unit at Freeman Hospital West concerning a 96-hour mental health committal of Charles Leader. An investigator with the sheriff's office wrote in his affidavit that the mother and uncle told him that Charles Leader did well if he was taking his medication but could not be relied upon to do so and would slip into periods of strange and potentially violent behavior when he did not.
They told the investigators that in the past he claimed there were radio waves controlling his brain and had attempted to cut into his head to extract a microchip that he believed was controlling his behavior, according to the affidavit.
Charles Leader was arrested on the charge after a stint in the Stephens Unit and received evaluation and treatment at a Missouri Department of Mental Health center for several years while the charge remained pending in Newton County Circuit Court.
He eventually was released from the mental health center, but the charge remained pending until Tuesday when Circuit Judge Gregory Stremel dismissed it in response to a motion from public defender Kathy Byrnes alleging undue delay in prosecution.
Prosecutor Will Lynch told the Globe after the hearing that his office did not oppose the motion and stipulated to its factual accuracy.