UPDATE: Former Coventry Teacher Arrested After Threats

Todd Gillheeney, a former CHS math teacher was arraigned in Kent County Court this afternoon.


Update - 4:35 p.m: After undergoing a psychological evaluation, Gillheeney came before Judge Mary McCaffrey in Kent County District Court with his Attorney Thomas G. Gulick, where he was charged with felony threats to public officials and two misdemeanor charges for the alleged harassment of Coventry High School Vice Principals Susan Chandler and Lori Ferguson. Coventry Police Lt. John Shields confirmed that Gillheeney had no prior background of criminal history. No plea was taken. 

Judge McCaffrey stated that she did not believe Gillheeney met the criteria for hospitalization, however she did have additional concerns for which she referred him to pretrial services.

Gillheeney was released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail, but with the conditions that he receive a full mental health evaluation and monitoring from pretrial services, reside with his parents in North Providence while his case is pending, agree to not have any contact with CHS Principal Mike Hobin and VPs Chandler and Ferguson, and agree to not trespass or have contact with any Coventry schools or the administration building.

A status date of March 20 was set to review his conditions of bail and a felony screening was set for April 15.

Stay with Coventry Patch for updates on this story as they become available.

1:53 p.m.: Police have arrested former Coventry High School teacher Todd Gillheeney after school officials forwarded several threatening/disturbing tweets to the School Resource Officer. 

Gillheeney, 33, of 11 Larchmont Dr., Coventry, who was recently terminated, was charged with threats to public officials, cyberstalking and crank or obscene phone calls (harassing). School officials have declined to give the reason for Gillheeney's termination, referring to it only as a "personnel issue".

Police began investigating Feb. 28 after High School officials forwarded the tweets.

The first tweet in question appeared at 12:01 p.m. on Gillheeney's Twitter account, stating, "Dead man walking."

Little more than an hour later, another post stated: "Judgement day, let the countdown begin."

Later that evening at 6:23 p.m., a tweet stated: "Planning something and actually doing it are 2 completely different things."

Fifteen minutes later at 6:38 p.m., a post from the account read: "All I need is a stage."

At 7:35 p.m.: "Enjoy tonight, redemptions creeping."

At 10:26 p.m., a final message was posted that said, "Pretty much."

After reviewing the messages officers searched Gillheeney’s home, seizing a Stag Arms AR-15 rifle, several magazines, more than 400 rounds of ammo, a computer and assorted electronic devices.  

"There were no direct threats against any school, just a lot of cryptic posts about today's date and some play on words," said Coventry Police Chief Bryan Volpe. "It was enough to raise our awareness level so we put a team together pretty quick, brought it to a judge to get an arrest warrant and then a search warrant and went to his house around 2 this morning. In the scope of what's going on around the country, we can't take any chances with this."

There was never any danger to any student, Superintendent Mike Almeida wrote in a letter to parents Friday. "The safety of the students of Coventry has been at the forefront of our minds and at no time was the safety of the students compromised," he wrote.

Gillheeney will be arraigned in Kent County District Court at 2 p.m.

Stay with Coventry Patch for updates on this story as they become available.

Rk March 02, 2013 at 02:20 PM
He was a great teacher. All of his students loved class with him. He made boring topics fairly amusing.
Austin Coyle March 02, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Im sorry, Gillheeney would never do that. Leave the poor guy alone, he got fired, doesnt have a job and lives with his mom. Thats what "dead man walking" stands for?! He hit rock bottom. And that "redemption day" was about the court day so maybe he could in fact still teach. They are blowing this up way out of proportion.
02816 March 02, 2013 at 08:42 PM
I don't know him, he may be a great teacher and this may be overblown. However, having kids in the Coventry school system I have to say better safe than sorry!! Thanks to the school department and the Coventry PD for taking this seriously. If this is in fact overblown, let the courts figure that out.
Stephanie Lyn Morley March 02, 2013 at 10:33 PM
I've heard many CHS students talk about his innappropriate behavior with his female STUDENTS. Thats just immoral. And I def think theres more to the story...
ernie nardolillo March 03, 2013 at 01:49 AM
Here we go again Coventry RI Taxpayer maybe if you and other people in Town didn't break the Law you would not have such a problem with CPD. As far as this case goes NO Judge is going to issue a search and arrest warrant without just cause. There needs to be a certain level of professionalism when you are a Teacher, and I don't believe and Teacher and Student should be "Friends" beyond the classroom whether it's social media or not.
lisa bites March 03, 2013 at 02:06 PM
if he is so awesome, why does he prey on girls that are his students? Isn't that why he way fired? someone that does that is not mature or psychologically stable and the weird tweets showed just how immature he is! my daughter had him for math and he was very weird at the parent teacher conferences.
ashley March 03, 2013 at 02:55 PM
the innapropriate behavior with students was wrong but seriously the economy is aweful and coventry high school sucked when i was there in 03 ...... and just cause there was a gun in the home doesnt mean anything just another citizen waiting for our government to fall off the deep end..... not everyone who owns a gun wants to hurt people ....
Coventry RI Taxpayer March 03, 2013 at 05:51 PM
@ernie nardolillo You work for the CPD so your opinion is definitely biased. I personally have never broken the law, been arrested nor do I have a problem with the CPD. In fact, I think they do a great job! I was born and raised in Coventry, still live here and love my town. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with anyone that takes advantage of the position of authority they were trusted with. Where in the article does it say he has been charged with being "friends" with a student beyond the classroom? It said he has no prior criminal charges so a reasonable person could assume by your comment that his arrest for posting ambiguous comments on Twitter is simply an attempt to charge him with something....no matter how far the reach. Unless there's more to the story I'm pretty sure his posts are nothing more than a guy blowing off steam, not a criminal offense. I see posts on Twitter and Facebook every single day that could constitute someone implicating themselves in criminal activity or making comments that could be taken as threatening. If the posts were from you directed at a neighbor you don't get along with would a judge issue a search warrant? I highly doubt it. It's called selective prosecution.....and no, I don't know the guy! Are you aware of the "professionalism" the principal at our local junior high showed several years back? He didn't even lose his job....in fact, he was promoted to superintendant!
ernie nardolillo March 03, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Coventry RI Taxpayer again you are spreading misinformation I do not work for CPD, I work for DPW as a garbage man so actually so my job is similar to that of CPD to help keep trash off the streets of Coventry
M March 04, 2013 at 12:34 AM
M Having a anykind of relationship besides a teacher to a student is innappropriate. They did the right thing by firing him. As far as everything else is concerned, I dont' know enough of the truth to have an opinion besides to say that if somethng bad had happenned everyone would be saying "they had all this information and did nothing!!". Having a child in the school I'm glad they aired on the side of caution.
isupporttgills March 04, 2013 at 05:05 PM
You all have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. He is an AMAZING father, person, teacher and a great friend to everyone in his life. The 3-1-13 date was about starting his life over after being fired and a string of other events happening such as his child support case, being officially terminated, etc. He was looking forward to a new beginning. Personally knowing him, I can 1000% say that he is the most unharmful person you'll ever meet. The Coventry PD and Coventry school system should be ashamed of themselves. I'm embarassed to be from this town. And to those commenting on the child he has with a former student, that was a woman who was his girlfriend and fiancè for almost five years. I know them both and know the truth behind the rumors.
Harsh Reality March 04, 2013 at 08:38 PM
I have sent three children to Coventry High School, 2 boys and a girl. My second son had him for some ridiculous class they called Algebra 3, but was nothing more than Pre-Algebra where they did Sudoku puzzles all year. When my daughter was a senior she signed up for the class and I immediately pulled her out of it because my son warned me about him. THE KIDS HAVE KNOWN FOR YEARS WHAT HE WAS. When I was asked about it by people in the guidance department, I told them that I have heard some pretty disturbing things. I've been told by other parents and grown children now that he has had students over his house and pictures of it appeared on Facebook. Kids may not know better, but aren't we as adults supposed to? Where was the school department in all of this? Where was the accountibility? How long has this been going on? Why has nobody asked these questions?
Nicholas March 04, 2013 at 08:49 PM
I hope that the paper follows up on the case and why he was terminated in the first place. I think it is unfair to judge someone without hearing all of the evidence. Does he have a history of being inappropriate with 16-18 year old girls? Did he really father a child with an ex student? I think all of it should be on the table and if he did have some inappropriate affairs why was he only fired and not arrested on that. I think the paper and readers need to demand more information. Is the Coventry School Department covering something up. Does this have anything to do with the DEA, CPD and State Police at the Middle School last with finding drugs in the school... and making arrests. I really am beginning to wonder.
Coventry alumni March 05, 2013 at 01:22 AM
I have been to parties at his house as a student ! Alcohol present. Yes he fathered a child with a student I was in class with her when they were dating.
Coventry RI Taxpayer March 05, 2013 at 12:46 PM
@ernie nardolillo I apologize, must have confused you with your brother Anthony. He works at the police station and you work for the DPW. You both landed town jobs, right? I want to make sure I'm not spreading misinformation. It's a good thing nepotism isn't illegal, wouldn't you agree?
JALF March 06, 2013 at 04:15 AM
This loser was put on paid administrative leave due to the fact that their is a senior walking around the school right now pregnant with his child, and as of recently they have proved it so he was fired for breaking his student/teacher oath. Its unfortunate that he has this power over young girls and that they consent to him. He should be considered a sex offender in my eyes. I have nieces and nephews who attend CHS and they have said that he brags about being in a GUN CLUB............so who's to say he can't get ahold of more weapons??? Who knows what he was planning or not I am glad CPD did what they did, I just wish he was locked up until this mess is figured out.
covgrl March 06, 2013 at 12:00 PM
@ Coventry Alumni- stop trying to get a piece of the action. They did not begin dating til 2008, something you would know if you truly were around them. She graduated in 2007, something else you would know if you really were in class with her. You are apart of the problem in this world, spreading rumors because you want to be involved in the situation.
covgrl March 06, 2013 at 12:03 PM
@ Harsh Reality - you are also apart of the problem. All of a sudden because Mr. Gillheeney gets bad publicity you want to stand up and preach about how you knew of his supposed bad behavior, etc. You should be ashamed. You "know" the rumors you hear, not the truths. Please keep your false accusations to yourself.
covgrl March 06, 2013 at 12:07 PM
@ Lisa Bites - He doesn't prey on his female students in the least and anyone that claims that is full of sh*t and trying to pour gasoline on this fire. He was very well loved around CHS because of the teacher he is and the good and caring person he is. He went out of his way to help his students succeed because he truly cares about them doing well. The proof is in the grades and test scores of his students.
covgrl March 06, 2013 at 12:11 PM
@ Mike1 - ask some of the other teachers? Their opinions and what they have to say are full of sh*t also. The entire school system is trying to look like a hero right now when in fact, they are the ones who CAUSED this problem. Every teacher in that building KNOWS that Mr. Gillheeney was a good person and was absolutely beyond a doubt not sleeping with 16 year olds and whatever other dumb rumors we are being made to believe. Just because a "teacher" says something is true, doesn't mean it is.
Objectivity March 07, 2013 at 11:27 PM
Am I the only one who has noticed there is no proof of the school or anyone being threatened? The gun was registered to his live-in cousin, and his door was barreled in at 230 am. If you are comfortable with the police in your house based on ambiguity so be it, Im not. As for all the gossip Im not sure of the correlation to the story, I dont think the story or issue is whether or not he should be employed there
Objectivity March 07, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Lisa bites as name reaks of maturity lol. And what girls no one has seemed to back that up either. There was never a threat to the school and no one seems to know the girl"
Chris St Peter March 12, 2013 at 01:44 PM
These Idiots Saying That This Guy "Would Never Do Anything Bad" Or "He Wouldn't Hurt A Fly" Should Go Spend A Day In New Town CT. He Was Arrested For His Threatening Tweets. The Stuff He Was Tweeting Is Absolutely Cause For Arrest. If The Police Hadn't Arrested Him, All You Morons Would Be On Here Complaining About The Police When He Went Into The School With That Machine Gun And Killed Innocent People. I Can't Believe They Let Him Out On Bail. Do They Really Think He's Not Going To Go Into That School Just Because Some Judge Told Him Not To? And BTW, People Don't Get Fired For No Reason. I Have Never Been Fired From A Job, Because I Do My Job, And Follow The Rules.
mah March 13, 2013 at 02:27 PM
Mr. Gillheeney is a truly sincere individual. My daughter was a student of his in 2009-2010. In 2012 he tutored me for my college Algebra course. He went out of his way to help me pass the class; coming to my home because I am disabled. As to the reason why he was fired... nobody knows the reason why. In none of the stories where there mentions of inappropriate behavior with students. Assumptions are running rampent here. Until the truth is revealed these rumors only cloud perceptions. If truth be told; there is more than one male teacher having inappropriate relations with students at CHS, and at least one female teacher I know of. The Tweets on Mr. Gillheeney's account can be construed in any number of ways. For example, "dead man walking" could be in reference to him being exhausted. He has a child for God sakes. "Redemption" is simply what someone feels when they have won a victory over an oppressor. All these things are being taken out of context. In this country we are innocent until proven guilty. Facts speak for themselves so do not assume we know anything until all is revealed. I support Mr. Gillheeney.
Allie Vadnais-Lobao March 13, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Oh and of course, he was fired for SUPPOSEDLY sleeping with a student but I can name five or six teachers that have had sex with multiple students in their classrooms or offices, VICE PRINCIPLES INCLUDED!! Word travels fast and all of those teachers are still there, but not Gillheeney? Hmm.. I wonder why. I understand being concerned for your children but do not discuss about what you do not know. “Children may not know better?” These are high school students- young adults! If these kids do not know about self-respect and the birds and the bees, than clearly you need to work on your parenting techniques. Already since 2010, our town has been in the paper for two students stabbing each other, an outbreak of Chlamydia and now this… Either way it is not just a reflection on Gillheeney and his moralities, it is a reflection at how desperate these students are for sex and attention. I love this! The newspaper says something, so it must be true, even though Coventry High is the first school to teach you about propaganda. Ha! “All I need is a stage,” I can think of two songs that have those exact lyrics. In case you guys forgot, many people post songs as statuses. I think you all need to look at yourselves before picking apart others. Students were in line to get into Gillheeney’s classroom, not to have one mass-orgy with their teacher, but to actually love learning for once.
Allie Vadnais-Lobao March 13, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Let us just talk about those cryptic messages... "Dead man walking." Wow- big deal! He has a child, maybe he was tired? Or maybe this was how he felt after he had been fired? Have you never said you felt like a dead man/woman before? And may I just ask how you all feel he was going to walk into the school when he was fired? What was he going to do? Carry a gym bag in through the front door past the bullet proof, glass- enclosed area where the secretary has to buzz you in? Oh yes! I am sure she would just let him walk through no question... I went to Coventry High School and, of course, rumors were spread, but no truth ever came of it. He was one of the few teachers that made class fun and actually cared about his students. Hobin has been waiting to get his hands on him for years! If you would like to discuss the supposed "sleeping with students" bull, here is what I have to say to that, HIGHLY DOUBTFUL. And a senior is pregnant with his child?? So now we can take paternity tests while the baby is in the womb? Really people. If the girl would SUPPOSEDLY sleep with a teacher, what are the chances that her mother taught her right and she kept her legs closed on a day to day basis? I made it through high school just fine without sleeping with my teachers because I was taught to respect myself.
Allie Vadnais-Lobao March 13, 2013 at 02:46 PM
“Pretty much,” you guys need to get a life. Oh no! I said pretty much, this must mean that I too plan to shoot innocent students...
Coventry Jane March 13, 2013 at 03:00 PM
An outbreak of Chlamydia? I've lived here since well before 2010 and I don't recall hearing or reading about that. Of course, when you reference "two students stabbing each other", "an outbreak of Chlamydia" and "now this" as the recent noteworthy happenings in Coventry, not mentioning our fire district that is on the verge of liquidation or the town's horrific pension liability - I don't know how seriously I can take your comments.
Sadie March 13, 2013 at 03:03 PM
You sound like you know her VERY well...hmm. Any relation?
Fun Facts March 31, 2013 at 10:05 PM
I went to Coventry High School, I graduated in 2006. Mr. Gillheeney, including a handful of teachers there also including a certain Vice Principal have all acted very inappropriate around ladies in that school. Of course most of these girls were dressing inappropriately to begin with; honestly they were whores let me just clarify that. I think the parents for these girls are also very much to blame they are very much responsible for raising such low class woman, I'm disgusted with attending such a school. Parents are suppose to know what their kids are up to and the fact that this has been going on even when I started attending the school in 2002. 10 years? It takes 10 years for an Adult to understand the fucking situation!?, the problem is not just a Teacher diddling kids in high school. The problem is you raised a town whore and your putting the responsibility where it DOES NOT FUCKING APPLY. THESE ARE CONSENTING TEENAGERS NO ONE FORCED THEM TO BE INVITED TO PARTY AT A TEACHERS HOUSE WHERE ALCOHOL AND DRUGS ARE PRESENT. WAKE THE FUCK UP PEOPLE.


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