DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The Volusia County Sheriff says he’s certain the man deputies arrested is the guy who threatened the family of cancer victim Tyler Trent online, and he had no kind words for that suspect.
"He deserves to rot in jail,” said Sheriff Mike Chitwood from his office in Deltona Tuesday. "I throw the word 'scumbag' around a lot, but this guy is the ultimate 'scumbag' for what he did."
On Monday, deputies arrested 39-year-old John Pinkham of Deltona on felony charges of written threats to kill or injure.
According to Pinkham’s arrest affidavit, the Sheriff’s Office was contacted Monday by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in references to the online threats their detectives had traced back to Volusia County. The sheriff said those threats were traced back to Pinkham’s Facebook page, his phone, and his address where deputies found him in possession of the phone.
The threats were against the family of 20-year-old Tyler Trent; the Purdue University super fan who died of cancer last week and who, in recent months, became a booming voice and major advocate in the fight against the disease.
According to the arrest report, those threats, targeted at Trent’s mother, stated in part, "Can't wait till I can choke the life out of you," "funerals coming and I will appear like the reaper," and "I will kill his mother..just watch I will be talked about forever..this is no idol threat."
That celebration of Trent’s life was scheduled to happen on Tuesday.
On Monday night, both Pinkham and his fiancée denied to deputies and to the News Station that the threats had come from Pinkham.
“I assure them this didn't come from me. This is a case of trolling. I know you know what trolling is, when people get on the internet and say and do stupid stuff,” Pinkham said from jail Monday night.
He appeared to continue in that denial on Tuesday as he had his first appearance before a Volusia County judge and repeatedly shook his head at the cameras pointed at him and at the charges being read.
Sheriff Chitwood repeatedly called Pinkham a liar Tuesday, saying that he and his fiancée had already told investigators three different stories in the 24 hours since his arrest.
"When they question him he says, 'I didn't do it, my girlfriend did it,' and then the girlfriend says, 'Oh no, my phone was stolen,' and then last night when he's being transported to the branch jail he tells the wagon driver, 'I was on a dating app and I saw it on there and told my girlfriend to delete it,’” said Chitwood. “The more lies he tells, the better."
According to the affidavit, Pinkham has 17 prior felony charges and 5 prior convictions including one he just got out of prison for in September.
The Sheriff’s Office shared a message from Purdue’s Athletics Department Tuesday where a representative thanked detectives for their fast action in the case.
Chitwood said Tuesday that his heart goes out to Trent’s family and he encouraged residents of Central Florida to support them as well as Tyler’s cause.
"Out of this terrible event: maybe this brings more light on to what Tyler Trent's life was all about and him wanting to raise money to beat this dreaded disease,” said Chitwood.